How can I reduce my use of plastic milk bottles?

We’ve had an email from Katharyn:

Can you tell me what alternatives I have to plastic milk bottles from the supermarket? I tried to get a milkman to deliver but they told me I don’t get through enough milk to warrant them adding me to the route but I seem to generate lots of empty milk bottles! I can recycle them at the supermarket but I would rather not use them in the first place.

I think the milkman – with their reusable glass bottles – is probably the best route here to go down here – such a shame they won’t deliver. How about talking to your neighbours to see if you can up the order?

Some local wholefood stores also stock milk in glass bottles – talk to them about whether you can return the bottles for reusing or whether they should be recycled with other glass bottles.

If you have to keep using your supermarket, buying in bulk would reduce the amount of plastic used per pint but then you’d have a lot of milk to get through. Milk can be frozen but it can be a little separated on thawing – perfectly fine for cooking with but a little less palatable on your cereal. Any advice on freezing milk?

Any other suggestions?

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8 Responses to “How can I reduce my use of plastic milk bottles?”

  1. How about switching to biodegradable cardboard cartons? You can reuse the cartons as planters… the roots will grow right through them and the end up being mulch. If you buy milk in the largest cartons possible it would also reduce waste.

  2. Cipollina says:

    It takes a bit of time to adjust to the slightly different taste of another dairy’s products, but I’d switch to cartons, too. They are easier to store both before and after consumation since you can stack them like bricks, and then flatten them after use. I keep an empty one by the sink into which I cram them after rinsing and drying (I flatten them and fold them once along the long side). When it’s full – after about a week in our household – it goes to recycling.

  3. Lizzy says:

    I’ve always been a little wary of buying milk in cartons because the inside is coated with a clingfilm-like plastic which can react with the fats in the milk at low temperatures e.g. in the fridge, to produce small amounts of chemical nasties. The completely plastic milk bottles are a different polymer, and so the problem doesn’t arise to such an extent. And anyhow, cartons (at least where I live) only go up to a litre. I’d say your best bet would be to buy in the large six pint ones, and then maybe keep a small amount in a bottle in the fridge, and freeze the rest. As long as you give it a shake up after defrosting, it should taste fine. For baking, you could consider powdered milk from cardboard boxes.

  4. Hazel Edmunds says:

    I buy milk in bulk (6 pints at a time) and freeze 4 pints in 4 1-pint containers using the remaining milk straight from the fridge. I’ve never had any problem with whole milk (well shaken before freezing to disperse the cream) but sometimes have separation with skimmed.

  5. Interesting Cipollina. I didn’t know about the low temp reaction is cartons. I live out in the sticks and buy from a local dairy. I just take my bottles down and get them filled up.

  6. My grandma cuts off the bottom, part of the top, and uses them to protect her tomato plants when they are little. She lives in a fairly harsh climate (Lead, SD) so they need protection from the cold and deer.

    I am starting a new blog about my upcycling projects. Check it out and comment if you get a chance

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