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Best Milk Containers for the Environment

Many times in grocery stores when you are at the check-out counter, you will be asked paper or plastic. That question now extends to your milk purchase, as milk comes in a variety of containers and travel varied distances to get your local store.

In a research study performed by Pablo Paster, an environmental consultant for Treehugger.com, one of my favorite eco-friendly websites, the environmental impact was measured for a quart of milk. The 4 types of containers tested were cardboard, plastic, glass and TetraPak, which is a method used to allow milk to be stored unrefrigerated prior to opening.

Included in the measurement was how the milk container was manufactured, transported and stored.

The results for each container were as follows:

Cardboard – 3,150 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
Plastic – 2,880 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
Glass – 2,090 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
TetraPak – 1,340 grams of greenhouse gas emissions

Glass bottles emitted the highest amount of greenhouse gas in a majority of the categories, which is not surprising as glass weighs more and has more raw materials for manufacturing. You will note that cardboard milk container, in the end, had the highest level of gas emissions and TetraPak had the least.

While making healthy choices about the nutritional quality of the products you bring into your home are important, it is equally important to look out for our environment and make eco-friendly choices when possible. Next time you make a trip to your grocery store and find yourself in front of the dairy case, take a moment and see if there are choices for you that allow you to lower your impact on our beautiful planet.

September 25th, 2010

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