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Investing in our planet

Yeo Valley Organic shares five ways it’s supporting Earth Day 2023
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
A black and white dairy cow grazing on the side of a small hill in early evening sunshine

This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 22 April 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Farmers see firsthand the incredible things that nature can produce – and the many ways in which humans have the potential to damage living systems.

Everyone has a role to play in protecting and helping to preserve our planet for future generations.

By respecting the natural world and working with natural relationships and cycles, organic farming is a healthier approach for both people and planet.

We spoke to Yeo Valley Organic, Britain’s largest organic dairy brand, to discover how it has been making good choices for over 25 years.

1. Regenerative farming projects

In organic farming no chemicals or artificial fertilisers are used, and with both organic and regenerative farming soil disturbance is minimised while plant diversity is maximised.

In 2021, Yeo Valley Organic took soil samples at three different depths, across 25 supplier farms, as part of a new carbon soil project.

The six-year, £2 million programme will explore the impact of soil health on our climate crisis and guide the actions of farmers in the future.

The potential of regenerative organic farming to be part of the solution for mitigating climate change is hugely exciting for Yeo Valley Organic owner Tim Mead.

‘Helping to regenerate the world’s soil carbon stocks is one of our greatest opportunities to help combat climate change’, Tim said. ‘The work we’re doing on our own and our supply farms is all about weaponising soil. As farmers and custodians of the soil, it’s time to recognise that our natural ally is right under our feet.’

2. Reducing food waste

More than a third of our food is wasted – that’s over 6.6 million tonnes of food every single year.

In a bid to combat unnecessary waste, Yeo Valley Organic switched its ‘use by’ labels to ‘best before’ dates on butter, cheese, milk and natural yoghurt.

‘Investing in best before labelling puts the power of deciding when to eat back in our customers’ hands’, explains Yeo Valley Organic’s Beth Katuszka. ‘It allows us to use our senses – to look, smell and taste – to prevent delicious dairy from ending up in the bin.’

3. Closing the loop

In recent years, Yeo Valley Organic has been working towards making its packaging fully recyclable and from 100% recycled plastic.

‘A few significant changes include taking the plastic lids off big yoghurts pots’, Beth tells us, ‘which will remove 145 tonnes of plastic a year.’

Last year, Yeo Valley Organic introduced a new 1 litre milk carton made from renewable materials, using 70% less plastic than previous bottles. This followed a world-first move in 2020 that saw Yeo Valley Organic Super Thick Yogurt pots produced using 100% recycled plastic.

4. Renewable energy

On home soil at Yeo Valley Organic HQ, all electricity is from renewable sources – including solar power from the family company’s own farms and many of its manufacturing sites.

There’s a whole acre of solar panels on the roofs of its cowsheds, and over 10,000 solar panels have been installed at distribution and production sites in Somerset.

It’s all part of the company’s commitment to become 50% self-sufficient in electricity usage over the next 10 years.

5. Food miles

The UK imports half its food, which can lead to shortages in the supermarkets.

Making the small change of purchasing food locally and focusing on where your food comes from can reduce carbon emissions while supporting the best of British produce, like home-grown organic dairy.

It’s important that we remember the good choices we can all make every day – from taking part in ‘No Mow May’ to supporting wildflowers and struggling pollinators by opting for organic yoghurt or milk when we’re in the dairy aisle.

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