Organic September: The simple swaps to make in your routine, from skincare to clothing

Whether it's tea bags or a cleaning product, small changes can make big differences

Louise Whitbread
Tuesday 01 September 2020 07:54
The campaign first began in 1994 and was originally known as Organic Harvest until 2012 when the name changed to its current form
The campaign first began in 1994 and was originally known as Organic Harvest until 2012 when the name changed to its current form

As we all make a concerted effort to eat better, buy better and be overall more conscious of the planet, one way you can make a difference is by opting for organic.

This month marks the start of Organic September, a month-long campaign founded and run by The Soil Association, the UK's leading food and farming charity and organic certification body, to raise awareness of the benefits of organic food and farming.

Some of the benefits of this include combating the climate crisis, employing better standards for welfare for wildlife, supporting biodiversity and reduced exposure to animal welfare.

The campaign first began in 1994 and was originally known as Organic Harvest until 2012 when it was re-named to be Organic September.

You can get involved by being part of the conversation using the #OrganicSeptember hashtag, supporting organic farmers in your local community or attempting to grow your own organic produce at home.

If you’re new to it, organic means ensuring the growth of food and crops sustains soils, ecosystems and people, which is regulated by the certification body once a year.

According to The Soil Association, for a food or drink product to be labelled as organic, at least 95 per cent of the ingredients must come from organically produced plants or animals. This label can also be found on skincare, make-up and cleaning products too.

There’s no shortage of places to shop organic, with products always emerging in food, wine, beauty, baby clothes and cleaning products. Organic September is the perfect time to make a commitment to trying to implement a more organic lifestyle.

Ahead we’ve curated the ultimate guide to making small swaps that will make a difference to your own life, local community and wider planet. After all, every little helps to make positive change on a global scale.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Wine, prosecco and tea

While we consider tea to be the most important drink of the day, switching out your usual for an organic alternative will make very little difference taste-wise, and can be environmentally friendly too.

In our guide to the best plastic-free tea bags, we loved this Clipper organic everyday tea (Clipper, £3.49 for 80) whose bags are unbleached, organic, fairtrade, plastic-free and non-GM.

This eco-friendly triangular tea bag makes for the perfect cuppa (Clipper)

Boasting a long list of credentials, it was even the world’s first fairtrade tea. “The teabag is made from abaca plants – a type of banana – and the plastic that sealed the bag is replaced with a material made from non-GM plants and it's become our new go-to every day tea,” said our reviewer.

Clipper is also now working on making the inner foil packaging recyclable too. Make sure you stock up next time you're in the supermarket.

Plenty of vineyards across the UK and other countries have been making organic wine for a long time.

In our guide to the best English sparkling wines, we were impressed with the Oxney Organic Estate classic (Oxney Estate, £40).

Rich and creamy, this will go down a treat next time you have friends over (Oxney Estate)

Rich and complex in flavour thanks to the ripe orchard fruits, biscuity notes and a long, creamy finish, we found it to be perfect as an aperitif but also pairs well with seafood and other light dishes.

It comes from an organic East Sussex vineyard, six miles from Rye, which the winemaker describes as “a warm bowl between giant oak trees – a wonderful microclimate which leads to amazingly ripe fruit”.

Or if you can't decide between a bottle of red or white, we've got you covered with our guide to the best orange wines, in which we loved this Domaine Gauby blanc la jasse côtes catalanes (The Wine Society, £18).

Orange wine sits between white and red, and gets its name thanks to its amber hue (The Wine Society)

According to our reviewer, "it smells deceptively sweet on the nose but is actually a gorgeous bone-dry style offering up fresh peach and delicate orange blossom, before moving into layered citrus fruit and pronounced texture on the palate. We found the honeyed notes to be extremely moreish."

A firm favourite when brunching, there's also a wide range of organic proseccos available too. In our guide to the best proseccos, this Masottina organic prosecco DOC (Berry Bros & Rudd, £14.95) came highly rated.

Don't forget to bring a bottle of this organic wine to your next catchup in the garden with friends (Berry Bros & Rudd)

The grapes used in this bottle are certified organic, allowing the more nuanced flavours of the glera grape to really shine and our testers described it as "elegant and fresh."

There's crisp notes of pear, apple and citrus that pairs excellently with food, as it's more of a drier style.

Food

There’s many ways to introduce organic food into your diet, from sweet treats to cuts of meat.

And when it comes to organic food, we've tested plenty of it, from cheeses to meat boxes and chocolate bars in order to find the products worth buying.

As we explained in our guide to the best meat boxes, free-range and organic chickens are meatier because they have developed good muscles. They also offer more complex flavours because of their healthier lifestyle and feed.

Whereas organic and truly free-range pigs are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive farming.

Coming in at number one was this Eversfield Organic family meat box (Eversfield Organic, £99.95) which includes; 1.2kg lamb leg (bone in), 1.7kg whole chicken, 325g pork escalopes, 340g rib-eye steaks, 400g beef stir fry strips, two packs of unsmoked streaky bacon, one pack of beef mince, 400g lamb mince, 400g traditional pork sausages.

For a meat box that will feed all the family, this one has plenty to help you make tasty dishes that are better for the environment and support British farmers (Eversfield Organic)

It’s made by Devon-based Eversfield Organic, which works with a network of small farmers and fishers to offer meat, vegetable and fish in family friendly boxes.

Not only does it support British farmers and employs environmentally friendly farming practices, the beef and lamb is 100 per cent grass-fed, the chickens are processed on the farm where they are reared, which minimises travel time that can be very stressful for the animals. Finally, the fish is caught by hand diving or rod and line.

If you’re a cheese lover, make a more considered purchase next time you stock up to pair with crackers, wine, grapes or in dishes.

We’d recommend The Bath Soft Cheese Co. subscription (Park Farm, from £22 for a month) allowing you to get artisan produce delivered straight to your door every month, and it is of course organic.

There’s three models of subscription to pick from ‒ the first contains a surprise selection of three cheeses each month.

Perfect for your next dinner party, this cheese subscription box is a winner (The Bath Soft Cheese Co)

The second is the rolling “Bath soft bespoke bag subscription”, which can be customised, allowing you to select your favourite five pieces from the selection of five organic multi award-winning artisan cheeses. The third is a five-cheese selection of monthly deliveries for six months.

We found it great value for money too as you can double up on your favourites and pass on any you’re less fond of.

Our reviewer said: “The Bath soft cheese has a creamy centre, the wyfe of Bath is your semi-hard cheese with sweet, nutty notes and there’s an extra mature version of this as well. Then there’s the merry wyfe with its distinctive pungent orange (edible) rind, which is washed in cider and lastly the Bath blue – and together they make the perfect cheese board.”

Aside from savoury foods, there's a big market for organic chocolate too.

In our guide to the 0 best ethical chocolate brands that go the extra mile, this Seed and Bean organic dark 66% chocolate with Cornish sea salt and lime (Planet Organic, £2.99 for 85g) earned top marks for it’s citric tang.

Treat yourself to a bar of this delicious chocolate with a kick of lime and sea salt (Seed and Bean)

Using organic and small scale suppliers, the brand pays above market price for their cacao and the company only uses FLO certified chocolate (the certification for Fairtrade Standards) and none of it is mixed with conventional chocolate – that’s not Fairtrade – meaning farmers benefit from the Fairtrade premium from 100 per cent of the bar.

It makes its bars in small batches too, with 23 varying flavours available. Additionally, the packaging is 100 per cent compostable, including the inner foil, which is made from eucalyptus tree pulp.

Beauty

As consumers become more informed than ever about what’s in their products and the origin of ingredients, organic products have become a a real-go to.

As “organic” is not a legal or regulated term in skincare, look for products with a certification label from Soil Association label when shopping in the UK which require them to meet a strict criteria including a certain percentage of organic ingredients (typically at least 95 per cent) in order to carry the label.

This Pai camellia and rose gentle hydrating cleanser and cloth (lookfantastic, £40) is by beauty brand Pai, which boasts an entire line up of products certified organic and natural by the Soil Association, and are also vegan and cruelty-free.

This cream cleanser is ideal for removing makeup without drying skin (lookfantastic)

This product, which topped our guide to the best organic skincare products, is a cream formula, designed to remove makeup, dirt and grime without stripping natural moisture from your skin.

It also contains omega-9 and vitamin E-rich camellia oil, as well as nourishing rose otto oil. We’d recommend using it as a second cleanse with the face cloth included.

Treat yourself to this indulgent English lavender bath & shower gel (Neal’s Yard, £14) from Neals’ Yard entire product range of certified organic skin and bodycare by the Soil Association, is carbon neutral and carries the cruelty-free Leaping Bunny label.

Treat yourself to this relaxing shower gel that's infused with English lavender (The Independent)

It has a sweet but not cloying fragrance and provides relief to sensitive, dry or itchy skin that we loved in our guide to the best organic body washes.

Another cleanser that received rave reviews is the Conscious Skincare make-up melt (Conscious Skincare, £15).

This cleanser will melt down makeup, SPF, dirt and grime

The lightweight blend of organic sesame and castor oils dissolves all make-up, including our waterproof eye products, without irritation or rubbing.

It also contains rosemary, eucalyptus and myrtle, which are essential oils to clarify and even out skin. It is certified vegetarian and cruelty-free, is suitable for vegans, and is completely plastic-free if you choose to order without the plastic pump.

Hyaluronic acid is a well-loved and commonly used product in skincare, thanks to its ability to hold more than 1,000 times its weight in water, making it ideal to treat parched skin.

We loved this Evolve Beauty hyaluronic serum 200 (John Lewis & Partners, £25.50) which left our tester's skin soft and plump when applied on a clean face before moisturiser.

Apply onto cleansed skin for a plump, hydrated complexion (Evolve Beauty)

Evolve Beauty products are made in small batches in Hertfordshire. Its hyaluronic serum is a good example of a product that’s fairly low in the organic percentage (36 per cent) but still labelled organic.

But if you can get over that – it is 99 per cent natural – it gives results that easily compare to more mainstream brands.

Make-up

Skincare isn’t the only area of the beauty industry getting the organic treatment, there’s many make-up brands embracing it too.

An easy addition to your make-up is lipstick, and a small tube can totally transform your whole face.

We loved this Axiology lipstick in ‘worth’ (Glow Organics, £29) that offers a sheer wash of colour with one-swipe for a low-key wash of colour, or you can build it up to an opaque semi-matte finish.

Kepe this in your handbag for a quick top-up of colour(Glow Organics)

This orange-toned brick shade would be flattering on all skin tones without drying out lips.

For a liquid eyeliner that delivers an intense black cat-eye flick, try this Zao refillable liquid brush liner (Beautifully Organic, £18.95).

Master the art of the cat-eye look with this refillable liner (Beautifully Organic)

The applicator is a fine brush that allows for a precise liner look, that once dried down we found doesn’t smudge or flake throughout the day

All it’s ingredients are 100 per cent organic, and it’s also packaged in a refillable bamboo case and a cotton drawstring bag, which is a nice touch.

Refills cost £11.75 which makes it very affordable in the long run.

Baby

You may think babygrows are all made alike, but for many organic cotton has fast become a go-to fabric for baby brands.

This is because it’s super soft with no chemicals that could irritate delicate skin and will withstand the countless amount of times it will it will no doubt go through the washing machine.

It’s better for the planet too, according to The Soil Association organic cotton emits up to 46 per cent less greenhouse gas than non-organic.

Good for the planet and good for your baby, there's lots to love about this organic babygrow (The Independent)

In our guide to the best babygrows, we loved this INPO x From Babies with Love multi-print organic babygrow (From Babies With Love, £21.90) that’s from a gender-neutral collaboration with artist In No Particular Order.

The multi-print babygrow is made with certified GOTS organic cotton yarn, while the envelope neck makes for easy dressing and the perfect present for new parents.

Cleaning

One of the easiest places to make the switch to organic is with household cleaning products.

Overhaul your routine with a few environmentally-friendly, inexpensive alternatives that will rid surfaces of dirt and stains just as well.

In our guide to the best natural cleaning products, we enjoyed using this Kinn Living sweet orange kitchen cleaner (Kinn Living, £4.25).

Wipe down surfaces with this zesty orange cleaner (Kinn Living)

Made in the UK using only pure essential oils, it’s free from harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances, dye and animal by-products.

While we tested several products from Kinn Living, the kitchen cleaner was by far our favourite.

According to our reviewers, the zesty scent is delicate and not synthetic – it really lives up to its name and smells just as though you’ve just used essential oils in your kitchen. “We found it a really effective cleaner too: a few sprays are all that’s needed to provide a lovely soapy texture that left our kitchen shining."

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