Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reuse before recycling: praise the local milkman

Its great to recycle bottles in this way ('23 million bottles recycled in a year', Bristol Evening Post, 15 May 2008) - but even better and more environmentally friendly if we were reusing bottles instead. Unfortuneately we are not gearing up our society to take this better option. Lets sing the praises of the local milkman, who provides us with at least one clear way of reusing bottles over and over again!!

The argument for reuse is put very well here (summarised in the extract below):

Reuse keeps goods and materials out of the waste stream
Reuse advances source reduction
Reuse preserves the “embodied energy” that was originally used to manufacture an item
Reuse reduces the strain on valuable resources, such as fuel, forests and water supplies, and helps safeguard wildlife habitats
Reuse creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling
Reuse results in less hazardous waste
Reuse saves money in purchases and disposal costs
Reuse generates new business and employment opportunities for both small entrepreneurs and large enterprises
Reuse creates an affordable supply of goods that are often of excellent quality.


  1. True, the milkman model of food distribution is a good one to follow, especially if other food can be packaged in uniform, reusable containers. The demands of manufacturers for packaging to differentiate their products from others however makes this difficult. Also milk is of questionable sustainability. Dairy is a major contributor to CO2 and methane emissions, not to mention land take and the ethics of the dairy \ meat trade. No easy answers are there...?

  2. Yes Steve, I think we need new law/regulation/standards on packaging in order to require packaging reusability, where possible, from manufacturers.

    Milk, as currently produced, and consumed in the quantities we currently consume it, has very big impacts. With changes in the way it is produced and in the amount consumed, my view is that milk can be sustainably produced. The same argument applies, but even more so, to meat.


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