Nice Jugs and How to Milk Them for all They're Worth

This holiday season for sure you’ve had many guests and used lots of that sweet nectar of the cows – milk. We were looking into the impacts of milk jugs versus cartons and found an interesting study that goes a little against our typical idea of what is greener. This study on the Use Less Stuff website reports that plastic milk jugs have less overall environmental impacts than cartons or even PLA jugs.

The study notes that milk jugs are recycled at a rate of 29%, but that also means that 71% are going to landfills. That’s a lot of high density polyethylene milk jugs sitting there that may never break down. Of course, they duly notes that it takes more energy to make PLA milk jugs given the new-ness of the technology and additionally, the plastic guys take less material to make the same thing (one of the reason that glass is also less efficient). Thus it appears that the overall energy requirements are less for the traditional HDPE jug than the PLA jug, the carton and the glass bottle. They didn’t look at the plastic bag option, which probably would have come out on top.
We went looking for what to do with these landfill fillers and how to milk them for all they’re worth. We found a very handy website that provides more than 35 ways to reuse those HDPE milk carriers. A few of our favorites include:

Swim floaters for kids: When my kids were young we didn't have a lot of money. When we went to the pool swimming we used milk jugs for floaters. Tie a sting to each handle. You may use one or two on each side. Place them near under arm and tie string around the child. Now he can float. May want to super glue the lids on.

Make a Wall-o-Water
Fill jugs with water and arrange them in a ring around plants. Cover the ring at night to preserve heat absorbed during the day. When the danger of frost and cold has passed, use the warmed water to water your plants. For warmer water, paint the containers black before filling them. This is a good way to regulate heat in cold frames and greenhouses.

And of course, the classic clothes pin holder for your clothes line. Not only can you reuse your milk jug this way, but you’re also reducing your clothing impactsby hanging dry!

Poor man's blender
Add yogurt, soy milk, fruit juice, nutritional powders, crushed berries or jam to a 1/2 to 1-gallon plastic milk. Replace the lid and shake like crazy. Store extra in the fridge.

Where to put the toilet bowl brush?
Cut a hole out from the top corner opposite the handle. Voila, problem solved.

Take a look at the Plantea site here to see all of the re-uses (like making giant igloos, ball catchers, berry pickers) for these plastic containers that are difficult to avoid if you like milk. Also read our own guide on How to Green Your Gardening. The life cycle assessment of milk containers is available here. Image Credit: Drinkstuff.

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