Choosing organic: what it means and why it’s worth the effort

Choosing organic: what it means and why it’s worth the effort

Over the years, the way we shop, eat, and live has become increasingly green in nature - as many of us look for ways to align our choices with our values. One term that needs no introduction is ‘organic’. But what does it really mean to buy organic? And why should we consider incorporating more organic products into our lives?

There’s a lot of information out there - so instead, we’ve deep-dived into the nitty gritty for you, from the benefits of choosing organic, to the practical ways you can get aboard the organics bandwagon.


What does 'organic' even mean?

The term ‘organic’ refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. For food, organic means that crops are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or chemical fertilisers. When it comes to livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products, the animals must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. 

As for the organic farming practices involved, whether it’s food or materials for things like clothes or bedding, the standards aim to preserve natural resources and biodiversity, as well as environmental balance. Fibres used are grown without synthetic pesticides or genetically modified seeds, and are also processed without harmful chemicals, making them safer for both the environment and the people who use them.



The benefits of going organic

Health benefits

Organic food is often considered healthier because it’s free from synthetic pesticides and GMOs, which have been linked to everything from skin irritations to reproductive and neurological damage. On top of this, studies have shown that organic crops may contain higher levels of certain nutrients and antioxidants, while other research shows certain herbicides, such as Roundup, are “probable human carcinogens”, can affect sperm quality, and may contribute to the prevalence of ADHD in children.


Environmental benefits

Organic farming practices are designed to reduce pollution, conserve water and energy, and promote soil health. By choosing to shop organic, you're supporting a more sustainable way of producing food and textiles - which in turn starts to shape future trends of growing and making products. Organic farming also helps protect biodiversity by avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals that can harm wildlife, the surrounding ecosystems, and waterways.



Animal welfare

Organic farming standards include guidelines for the humane treatment of animals. Organic livestock are given more space to move around, and don’t get subjected to routine antibiotics or growth hormones. Think free-range, happy living creatures that aren’t just treated as a commodity or crop. This not only benefits the animals, but also helps prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment. 


Supporting small 

While organic is becoming an increasingly desired checkbox when shopping around, many organic farms are small, family-owned operations, or a collaboration between small businesses and local farmers. By purchasing organic products, you're supporting these people and the more sustainable farming methods they’re trying to preserve. 




Certified VS non-certified organic

When choosing organic products, it's important to understand the difference between certified and non-certified options. Certified organic products bear a certification logo, indicating that they meet strict organic standards set by a certification body such as the Australian Certified Organic (ACO). These standards cover everything from soil health and pest and weed management, to GMOs and synthetic chemicals. If you’re wondering which ticks to look for, this is our go-to guide.

Non-certified organic products, on the other hand, may not carry a certification logo or label, but they may still be produced using organic practices. In some cases, these small-scale growers might follow organic practices, but choose not to undergo the certification process due to the cost or administrative work involved.



While non-certified organic products may still be a good choice, especially if you know and trust the producer (think local farmers’ market friends) there’s a level of assurance that comes with shopping from certified organic companies. 

Without certification, there is no guarantee that the product meets the same standards for organic production - but take it on a case-by-case basis. Shop organic where possible - particularly with bigger brands - and with smaller individuals, be clear on the processes that a grower or seller goes through to bring you organic products.


Add more organics to your life

There’s an abundance of ways you can go organic, from the food you eat, to the clothes you wear, and the bedding you sleep on. And while things like cost factor in, you don’t need to swap all your purchases at once. Start small, prioritise specific aspects of your lifestyle, and make the switch at a sustainable pace.



Going organic - food

Start by choosing organic fruits and vegetables, especially those that are known to have higher pesticide residues when conventionally grown. Check out The Dirty Dozen, which highlights which produce should be swapped for organic due to the volume of sprays used. 

You can also look for organic meat, dairy, and pantry staples like grains and legumes, knowing the impacts these farmers are having on the produce and industry. 

A great way to integrate more organic food into your home is to use your local community Facebook pages to find where your local farmers' markets are held, as these are the places you'll find small, sustainably-minded organic growers to buy from. And bonus, you get to talk directly to the people producing the food, giving you more insight and peace of mind as to what you're buying and eating.


Going organic - clothing

When shopping for fashion, look for items made from organic cotton, linen, or wool - and be sure to check the tags for the percentage of these materials used because sometimes it’s lower than you think! These materials are not only better for the environment but they come with far less side effects than materials made from synthetics or with toxic chemicals. 

While organic clothing options can often be more expensive, the trick is to buy better quality, less often. A little extra care will also see your organic clothes live a lot longer. And when your wardrobe needs a little ‘new’, head to secondhand stores, host a clothing swap with friends, or join a local Buy Nothing group on social media to find gently used organic clothing items. 



Going organic - bedding

Organic bedding, including sheets, blankets, and pillows, can help create a healthier sleep environment - and trust us when we say they just feel better. If you’re seeking out organic bedding options, it pays to shop from an predominantly organic brand like TNBC, as brands that only offer a small selection of organics tend to be more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. 

When you sign up to brands that you know and trust, and who offer transparency about their materials and supply chain, then you can browse freely and buy on sale, knowing that every organic mattress, organic bedding accessory, or organic latex pillow is backed by a business who shares your values.

Going organic - cleaning products

Switching to organic cleaning products can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals in your home, many of which are common across every non-organic offering. Look for products that are made with natural ingredients, are certified organic, and don’t hide any synthetic items under ingredients like ‘Fragrance’ (double check the fine print!) 

Save yourself the cost if ready-made options don’t fit your budget, and try making your own with common household ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils are safe, effective, and environmentally friendly.



Slow and steady wins the race

It might not be the fast way to get there, but slow and steady swaps across all aspects of your life is a sustainable way to go organic. Whether you're shopping for food, clothing, bedding, or other everyday items, opting for organic can have a positive impact on your health, the environment, and the livelihoods of all farmers and producers involved. 

Best of all - by making mindful choices and supporting organic agriculture, you can contribute to a more sustainable and hopeful future. And who doesn’t want that kind of feel-good vibe!?