It seems like every week when I prepare our household trash for pickup the cans are overflowing with boxes and plastic containers such as milk jugs. I’ve never been very good at separating and recycling, so I recently went on a mission to discover ways to reuse milk jugs instead of simply throwing them away.
In a very small way, we are doing our part to reduce waste and find new uses to extend the useful life of everyday products. It is my hope that this post inspires you to look around the house for ways to recycle or reuse items you normally add to the trash collection. Perhaps if we would all make these small environmental contributions we could make a big impact on our planet for future generations. Besides, it is the frugal thing to do!
Uses For Milk Jugs
Collect rainwater to irrigate gardens. Rinse empty milk jugs thoroughly and remove the cap. Place milk jug on a paved area on your property to collect rain water and use the water to irrigate gardens and small plants once a week. If you live in a windy area, pour a little tap water in the jug for stability. I like to drive a couple skinny nails through the cap so that I can replace the cap when the jug is full and sprinkle the water out of the jug like a homemade watering can.
Cut milk jug in half and use top as a a funnel for pouring motor oil. Pouring motor oil can be a messy job. Besides the economic impact of missing the oil reservoir in your car, oil spills create a mess under the car and spilled oil can cause an engine to smoke.
Cut off handled section to use as dog food scooper. Like most things we use a lot of over the course of a month we buy dog food in huge bags to get the lowest unit cost possible, and store unused food in a dedicated trash can. When our dedicated scoopers get lost in the shuffle we cut the top off a used milk jug and use it to scoop food in our dog’s bowl.
Make powdered drinks and juices. My wife and I like the sugar-free Great Value brand drink mixes from WalMart, but don’t drink them every day because they contain Aspartame. Depending on what you read this may be bad for us. Regardless, we occasionally use milk jugs to mix up powdered drinks and juices.
Use as a paint cup for trim work or small paint jobs. Cut jug in half, secure lid, turn upside down and pour in paint. The homemade paint cup is much more ergonomic than holding a nearly full can of paint. When the job is finished you may dispose of the paint cup or rinse it to reuse for another paint job. Considering a simple painter’s trim cup can run nearly $4.00, you will be saving some money and saving yourself from potential shoulder problems down the road.
Use milk jugs to store granulated yard products such as ant killer. Ever opened a small bag of ant killer and ripped the bag? It happens to me all the time. I usually ditch the bags and pour up granulated yard products in a used milk jug. Label the jug with a Sharpie marker and store safely out of reach of kids and pets.
Homemade toilet brush holder. The dilemma of where to store the toilet brush can be solved by cutting a hole in the side opposite a milk jug’s handle. Make the hole large enough for the brush to pass through and let the handle stick out for easy no-mess access.
Store foods. Small grains, such as nuts, popcorn, rice and seeds may be stored in a clean, dry milk jug. Pouring grains from a milk jug makes measuring a breeze thanks to the built-in handle and small pour spout. We used to store rice in large containers, but always made a mess scooping and pouring the rice into a measuring cup.
Refrigerator organizer. Cut off tops from used milk jugs and use the remaining base to store small fruits such as grapes, apples, tomatoes and kiwi. Make taller bases for larger fruits and vegetables such as apples and oranges. Cut bases to a shorter height for use in trays and drawers. We use these homemade refrigerator organizers in crisper drawers to store fruits and veggies, and in trays for cheese sticks and other small snacks for the kids.
Portable freezer. Fill a gallon, or half-gallon milk jug about 3/4 full with water and freeze. Place frozen block in a cooler to keep foods cold. As an added bonus, as the ice begins to thaw you will be left with a container of ice cold water to take on the road.
Industrial strength paper weight. A few weeks ago my son pulled up a small strip of laminate flooring – the strip that divides the carpeted floor from the laminate flooring. I glued it back down, but needed something heavy to place along the strip to provide a good seal. I had just the thing – a couple milk jugs filled with water. Place the heavy jugs on top of anything glued to help hold in place until the glue bonds and thoroughly dries. In my example, it is also a good idea to put down some plastic just in case the jug develops a leak. There is nothing worse for wood flooring than standing water.
Plant starter containers. Some plant varieties require some extra special attention during the germination period. Milk jug bottoms make excellent planters for single plants that can be later transplanted outside, or to larger pots. Use a safety pin to poke drainage holes in the bottom of the jug, and place on a saucer to catch water. As an added bonus project, have the kids decorate the jug base with a few markers. If you have several starter plants growing at once, it is a good idea to write the names of the plants you are growing on each container.