Long lost are the glass bottles for milk, replaced by cartons and plastic gallon jugs. I’m no saint, I do opt for gallon jugs when I’m home for a while, however am grateful that I’ve found a local Colorado company that does sell reusable milk jugs – Farmers All Natural (that you pay a deposit on, rinse out once empty and return back to store for the deposit back – the company then sterilizes the containers and reuses them).
However, very few places have this option, so here are some ideas on how you can extend the life of plastic milk jugs before you retire it to the recycling bin:
- protect seedlings in the ground- once your seedlings have sprouted or if you’ve recently transplanted them into the ground and are looking to protect them from frost, weather, critters, etc, you can simply cut off the bottom of the milk jugs and place jug over your seedlings; secure in place by affixing to ground with dowel or stake that can slide through the jug handle and straight into the ground (or you can poke a hole in the bottom of the handle and slide over top the stake/dowel; use the transparent jugs to keep over the plants long-term so the sun can get through and remove cap to allow for airflow; the white jugs can be used temporarily for frost but don’t allow for sun to get through, so keep in mind when determining what your purpose is
- as a scoop or pail – keep the lid securely fastened to the top; cut out the bottom, invert the bottle and now you have a perfectly good scoop with a handle
- save energy – a full freezer runs more efficiently than an empty one; the frozen items help to insulate and keep everything frozen in a self-sustaining way. Keep some empty gallon jugs handy and whenever your freezer starts to get low, fill up your containers 3/4 full and stick in the freezer to help reduce energy; when you need to fill up your freezer, take the jug(s) out, let them melt and water your plants with the leftover water!
- keep your cooler cool- along the same lines as the idea above, you can take one of those frozen milk jugs and put inside your cooler (instead of buying those blue gel packs) and keep your food cool without having the hassle of having ice cubes melt all over your food
- water your garden lightly – poke tiny holes in the bottom and set in your garden to allow for water to slowly trickle out to your plants over the course of several hours - save time and reduce the chance for evaporation (especially if done in early morning or late evening)
- mark your garden- cut strips down the long side of the jug and using a permanet marker, label your plants in your garden
- outdoor rinsing – spending the day out in the yard/garden? Fill up a jug with water and leave outdoors for rinsing hands/feet when working outside so you don’t end up getting your home dirty just trying to get to the sink/tub
- piggy bank – if you save a lot of coins, here’s a way to store them in a crash-proof container, especially good if you have kids (can also be cut open if coins get stuck at the opening (which sometimes happens in glass jugs and tough to remedy); encourage kids to decorate!
- store bulk goods – hate keeping flour and sugar in those flimsy paper bags they sell them in? Store these items and other items like grains and beans in cleaned and dried milk jugs – can then be easily poured out of jugs when needed for convenient handling and measuring
- for small paint jobs – cut the jug in half below the handle; keep the top half, invert it (obviously a screw top is a much better option to a pop off top) and use to hold smaller amount of paint that you can transport with you while doing touch-ups or small paint jobs
Do your part to help our Earth by reducing waste and finding useful ways to reuse everyday items. Remember, Reduce first, Reuse next, Recycle last!
Go green and save cash at the same time!