When I was little my grandmother used to get her milk delivered fresh every day by an elderly milkman who drove around in a milk cart – it was like an enlarged golf buggy. The bottles of milk would be stacked in brightly coloured crates and I’d run out of the garden to give him the empties and take a new bottle back home. On Mondays, we’d get fresh squeezed orange juice too, carefully rationed out to last the week as it was more expensive. These days, almost everyone buys their milk in plastic bottles from the supermarket as the prices dropped so low that your local milk man went out of business. As shops began to pop up everywhere and milk longevity increased, supermarket milk became not only cheaper, but even more convenient too.
I was absolutely delighted to recently read about the resurgence of the glass refillable milk bottle and those early morning deliveries. With an ever growing awareness in the environment and a desire to cut down on waste, people are realizing that the one thing that a glass milk bottle offered above all the other alternatives was it’s green impact. With the government’s recent pledge to scrap avoidable plastic waste entirely by 2042 and to add an extra tax on one-use items, the cost of the plastic milk bottle is going to rise which means in the future – our children could well be used to the refillable glass bottle again.
The Benefits of using Refillable Glass Bottles
- The bottle is used time and time again, so it offers the best ecological impact and the least waste.
- Glass is 100% recyclable with no loss in purity, so even if the bottle has reached the end of it’s re-usability, it can be recycled readily.
- The milk is fresh and you know exactly where it’s coming from.
- Plastics can melt and leak chemicals; although the plastic in food containers is deemed safe, there are still chemicals present. Glass is made entirely from natural materials and has no chemicals or contaminants.
- Glass bottles preserve the taste of dairy, which means your milk will actually taste better!
- It supports local business.
The Downsides of using Refillable Glass Bottles
- It can be more expensive.
- You can’t always get it at short notice.
- Leaving bottles outside isn’t always practical in some areas / housing blocks.
- Glass is more easily broken than plastic.
Given that last downside, I think there could be a market in the future for handing in your old bottle at your local store and switching it for a fresh one, rather than having to wait home for deliveries or have milk left outside. If the demand rises, this is one they will definitely find a solution for.
Since I’m very interested in reducing my waste and improving my ecological impact in small, practical ways, this one seemed to me like something that I could do. I’m not quite ready to switch to a vegan diet yet, but I do use organic cotton, look for the Fairtrade logo, try to maximise my recycling and minimize my waste. I’d consider myself environmentally conscious and like to think of ways my family can improve and I hope that my son will continue that having been brought up aware of the environment and the damage that we are doing to it.
It might cost a little bit more a week, but when you think about how many plastic cartons of milk are thrown away every year, glass milk bottles is a change that really makes a lot of sense to me. I googled and found a local milk delivery service that offers glass bottled organic milk, orange juice, fresh baked bread and free range hen’s eggs from a local farm. They only deliver twice a week so we’re going to have to keep a good eye on how much milk is left and make sure we order enough to avoid those emergency trips to the supermarket and I’m a bit nervous about leaving it on the doorstep as I live in an apartment, but I’m feeling really good about managing to reduce our plastic waste.