My biggest issue with producing almond milk is the amount of water used, especially when making almond milk from almonds grown in water-sensitive California. While Califia is unable to change the fact that almonds need a lot of water, through their manufacturing processes and working with their farmers to improve their water efficiency, Califia proves that they are very aware of their water usage and want to produce almond milk in the most sustainable way possible. Furthermore, Califia’s initiatives to reduce their energy usage and waste and to source locally are another way that they prove their awareness of their social and environmental impact.
However, while Califia is transparent about their manufacturing and farming processes, they lack information and depth about the treatment of their workers. Because they have direct relationships with their farmers, one can hope that they have good treatment of them and provide a living wage, but that is all based on my hopes. Same goes for their treatment of their factory workers.
Although Califia’s almond milk is a pricey, for everything that Califia is doing, their almond milk is worth the price. However, the bottom line is that Califia cannot change the amount of water needed to grow almonds. If you still want to support Califia in their endeavours and are okay with switching from almond milk, maybe try their oat milk instead?
Califia’s original almond milk is certified vegan, gluten free, BPA free, kosher, and Carrageenan free, and it complies with the non-GMO project. Additionally, all of Califia’s products are made in recyclable packaging.
When comparing cows’ milk, soy milk, and almond milk, almond milk produces the least amount of carbon emissions, producing 0.14 kg of CO2 to soy’s 0.195kg and cow milk’s 0.6kg for every 200mL glass. This is a similar trend for each milk’s necessary land use. However, this trend is false for water usage. While cows’ milk still requires the greatest amount of water (1050 liters of water to 1 liter of milk), on average one California almond requires 12.1 liters of water. While California is no longer officially in a drought, in a state that produces so much produce and has had issues with water availability, the amount of water usage growing almonds requires in comparison to soy or oat seems unreasonable.
Not only are their products recyclable, but Califia has tips on their website to help the recycling process (rip off the label if you can!), there are additional links to determine how to check if the Califia bottle is recycled in your area, and Califia acknowledges that while right now their refrigerated product is shipped using a foam- free alternative to styrofoam and with cardboard made of 75% recycled material, they are working on further ways to reduce their environmental impact by using recycled materials in their packaging.
Additionally, more than 80% of the almonds bought by Califia are processed within a 20 mile radius of their bottling facility, allowing Califia to reduce their carbon emissions from transportation significantly.
In their factories, Califia has decreased the amount of energy needed to produce 1 bottle of almond milk by 23% from 2016 to 2017, they use energy efficiency motors, and they have skylights and motion sensors to reduce the amount of electricity needed during sunny days. On top of all that, they are working on installing a solar array at their manufacturing plant and transitioning to 100% renewable power by 2020. In terms of water usage, the amount of water they require to produce one bottle of almond milk has decreased by 16% through more efficient production planning, and 100% of the water leaving their factory in Bakersfield, CA is recaptured and reclaimed by their farmers. They are currently working on their Zero Waste Certification, with 90% of production waste being recyclable and their food waste being donate to local farmers to be repurposed.
At the farms they source from, Califia ensures that their almond farmers use drip irrigation and live weather and soil moisture monitoring to use water as efficiently as possible.
Califia works their partners directly to best establish and clarify their goals and visions as a corporation. For almonds, Califia primarily partners with one family that has been growing almonds for generations. Additionally, in 2018, Califia began supporting Equal Origins, an organization promoting gender equality. The team at Califia also supports other local non-profits and grants each employee a full paid day off to volunteer at the organization of their choice.