June 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Seeks To Destroy Our Milk Crate Way Of Life


The milk crate's days are numbered. Record collectors, bodega-haunting codgers, and playroom shelf-building dads of the future will curse the name of Greg Soehnlen, the Robert Oppenheimer of milk packaging design, whose square milk jug stacks tighter and four high on pallets--without crates.

According to the NY Times, Sam's Club can fit 224 gallons of milk in the space that previously held 80. They pack tighter in the truck, too, and with no empty, dirty crates to retrieve and wash, the dairy's cut truck trips, fuel costs, labor, and water usage by 60-70%.

The utilitarian-seeming milk crates turn out, in these energy- and environmentally sensitive times, to be the packaging equivalent of a Hummer. But unlike SUVs, whose shiny carcasses will litter the sides of the highway, clogging the lots of increasingly desperate used car dealers, the obsolete milk crates could have a repurposed future. Did Mr. Soehnlen actually just liberate the world's milk crates a higher calling? Soon, you'll be able to put milk crate end tables next to your reclaimed Cadillac Escalade 60/40 split sofa and captain's chair set.

Solution, or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth [nyt, images: from the audio slideshow, david maxwell for nyt]


Organic milk (Organic Valley anyway) still comes in cardboard quarts and normal jugs...not too worried about it.

They use these types of jug at Costco. For some reason, the wider spout causes almost unavoidable spilling when you pour. It's annoying to the point where I avoid buying it, even though it's $.70 cheaper than the regular jugs.

@sethom...can you recycle the wax-coated cardboard with your normal cardboard recycling?

recycling? just kidding...I don't know really. I don't buy enough milk to really matter. Maybe a half quart a month. And the only thing I really use it for is for pancakes. Once my son starts drinking animal milk, I think we are going to stick to goat's milk as much as possible.

[yeah, we buy our organic milk a half-gallon at a time. Organic Valley. Snowdeal in da house!-ed.]

growing up, every room in our house had some sort of milk crate and/or cinder block and wood plank shelf configuration. i used to think she was cheap. years later i learned she just really liked the ease of moving them from house to house and the ability to adapt them to whatever you wanted to store on/in them.

... and my husband and i buy milk in glass containers. we bring them back to the store and they then go back to the local dairy for cleaning & re-bottling. the deposit's kinda high ($1.00-$2.00 depending on size), but when you end up with a few of them to return, $6.00 off your grocery bill is sort of awesome.

Speakibng of Organic Valley, want to be a dork and save $1.00 each time you buy the stuff?



[why, yes, yes, I do. thanks. -ed.]

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