The (Rinse and) Return of Glass Milk Bottles


If there’s one method of recycling glass that’s even better than popping it into the local bottle bank…it’s reusing it as a bottle.

Twenty years ago, glass milk bottles were the norm. The whine of the electric milk van and the clink of bottles were the sounds of deepest morning, a time early enough to burrow under the covers for another forty winks. Then along came the double whammy of rising costs and Tetra Pak – and in dairies across the world, glass fell out of fashion.

Until now. Traditional dairy practices are making a timely comeback – after all, what could be eco-friendlier than washing out your used bottles to be collected by the dairy for sterilizing? If you’re looking out upon a dawning Manhattan, you might see the vans of the Manhattan Milk Company dropping off fresh organic milk and keeping their “rinse and return” routine ticking over. The key is participation – getting people to return their empties and keep them in the loop long enough to be less expensive than current packaging methods.

So find a local milkman – and wake up to the green, elegant beauty of our humble little milk bottle (as these people have).

Image: macinate

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.