Milk float

Action: Sign up to a milkman

Traditional milk deliveries nosedived in the 1990s thanks to supermarkets, but environmental concerns have contributed to them coming back. In fact, the new services offer a much wider range of goods than the milkmen of the past.

Growing up, my family used a milkman. My wife and I used one in the late 1980s. But all that stopped because it was simply cheaper to buy from the supermarket as part of a weekly shop; it looked like these deliveries were set to vanish for good as the grocery juggernauts muscled in. The morning milk floats’ share of the household milk market plummeted from 90 per cent to just 3 per cent when supermarkets began selling milk in plastic bottles in the 1990s. I remember plastic bottles being hailed as an improvement because they are so much lighter than glass!

Now, once again though, you can arrange for a pint of whole organic milk, a semi-skimmed, a loaf of artisan sourdough, half-a-dozen eggs and oat milk to be waiting on your doorstep in the morning. It means you can have breakfast sorted without the need to pop to the supermarket – and without the added temptation of loading up with unnecessary items.

Traditional milk bottles

A pint of milk delivered costs a little more than at Tesco, but the premium is justified in our opinion, for several reasons:

  • buying from a milkman generally means it’s a fresh local product
  • fewer food miles and less pollution
  • electric floats are quieter, lighter and cleaner than supermarket trucks
  • your local milkman can deliver fruit, veg and more too
  • most importantly, glass bottles are used and these are fully re-useable/re-cyclable
  • not a plastic milk carton in sight!
  • milk bottles are typically used 25 times
  • even after that the glass can be recycled
  • you will drive to the supermarket less often, reducing your own fossil fuel use
  • other local goods tend to be delivered in paper rather than plastic, such as bread

In the UK, over 1,000 milkmen and women now make over 1.3 million deliveries per week, with 100 million pints of milk (in bottles) being delivered a year. That’s 50 million single use 2-pint plastic containers saved!

With electric vehicles predominating too, it’s an industry ahead of the rest of us when it comes to greening!

Please consider joining this new movement: thousands of tonnes of plastic could be saved by switching more milk and juice into glass bottles, which is why we want people to think about using these wonderful services.

Milk & More, a network of milkmen serving the UK, says that 97 per cent of everything it sells is in packaging that fits the circular economy – in other words, it is reusable, recyclable or compostable. Plus, it is aiming for 100 per cent by 2025.  All of its milk is British and sourced from a network of around 1,700 farms, and almost all customers leave their empty bottles out to be recycled.

All in all, what’s not to like?

Take action

You can find a milkman in the UK at Find Me A Milkman.

And, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

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