There are many reasons why you might choose to stop drinking animal milk. Lactose intolerance, a decision to go vegan, a general uneasiness with the idea of drinking milk that was intended for baby cows. But you might not have realised that reducing how much cow’s milk you drink could have a hugely beneficial effect on the environment. Milk production is actually pretty damaging – it generates a colossal amount of carbon dioxide emissions. According to figures shared exclusively with Metro.co.uk, the average amount of milk consumed by a Londoner is 1.61 litres each week, which produces the equivalent emissions of driving 22.4 km in a car every week.
When you combine all of London’s milk consumption, that equates to an incredible 196,848,781 km of driving per week – that’s 1,047,068 times around the M25, and a huge amount of pollution. As a nation we are slowly but surely becoming more environmentally conscious. Almost two-thirds (62%) of Londoners no longer use disposable coffee cups and 44% now refuse to purchase plastic shopping bags. But the environmental impact of products that we use every day – including the dairy in our diet – hasn’t yet made it on to the mainstream radar.
The research was commissioned as part of Oatly’s Ditch Milk campaign, encouraging Londoners to swap go-to dairy for a more environmentally friendly alternative. They found that by replacing cow’s milk with an oat drink, Londoners can cut a huge 73% of Co2e emissions – an equivalent of 142,715,366 km worth of car journey. ‘When we hear phrases like Co2e and carbon emissions being thrown about, we often think about the impact of cars, buses and factories. ‘In fact, the food system accounts for 20-25% of the world’s total climate footprint,’ explains Ishen Paran, Oatly General Manager UK.
‘Most reasonable people agree that to avoid an environmental catastrophe, we must keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 C and making small changes like swapping cow’s milk for oat drink in our tea, coffee and cereal could have a huge cumulative impact on reducing emissions,’ Ishen adds. ‘Over the past few years we’ve seen the UK embrace changing attitudes towards plastic usage, and although there’s still a way for us to go, we’d love to see London apply this approach to other environmentally damaging products. ‘It’s time to ditch milk to significantly reduce our climate footprint.’