I’ve been pondering milk containers lately.
I used to buy milk in 4-litre plastic jugs which are curbside recyclable here. Then the recycling depot started accepting cardboard milk containers (no deposit unfortunately), so I started buying 2-litre cardboard containers instead.
Before long, we had piles and piles, dare I say a mountain, of cardboard milk and soya containers sitting on our front porch. If that doesn’t say “welcome to our waste-free household”, I don’t know what does. Yes, yes, I know they were being recycled, but it does seem like a lot of packaging doesn’t it? So lately, I’ve switched to 1-litre glass bottles.
Buying milk in glass bottles has its pros and cons. They’re more expensive, they hold less milk per container, and I know they take more fossil fuels to transport because they are heavier. However the milk is local and organic, and the bottles are refillable (each bottle has a $1 deposit on it, so we are always sure to return them). The only waste they have is a number 2 plastic lid and collar which are curb-side recyclable, so in terms of the Clean Bin Project, glass bottles are definitely the way to go.
But what I’m wondering is, why the plastic lid? I distinctly remember having paper lids on our milk bottles as a kid. I assumed that they had been switched out for sanitary reasons. But Grant and I are on vacation on the kootenays (about 8 hours East of Vancouver), and I have to tell you that they have milk bottles here with paper lids. (They also have bulk tofu, so it’s pretty much a waste-free paradise, but that’s another story).
I don’t have the answer here, but I’m thinking that a biodegradable paper lid is better for the environment than a plastic lid that, even if recycled, will eventually end up in the landfill. Yes, it’s just a tiny milk bottle lid, but it has been staring me in the face because it was one of only 2 items in our waste yesterday.
Yesterday was our second day of participation in Sustainable Dave’s one week waste challenge. As part of the challenge we’ve been writing down all the waste we generate this week, recyclable or not. I’m proud to report that yesterday all we produced was a plastic milk lid and a paper bag -both recyclable. (Of course, we did eat out twice, so that cut down on our packaging waste considerably).
Even though we have reduced our waste drastically over the past 6 months, this challenge has really drawn attention to our recyclables stream. I’ll do the official waste report at the end of the week, but until then we’ll skiing in the Kootenays, drinking milk from bottles with paper lids to our hearts’ content.