Do milk cartons make Canada poor

Cream still comes in cartons
Cream still comes in cartons
But milk comes in 4 litre (flexible) containers.
But milk comes in 4 litre (flexible) containers.

Or is Canada going greener?

If you’re coming from the UK, you’ll find Canada’s milk cartons odd – very odd.

The method of packaging and delivering milk will take you by surprise. In the UK, milk stopped being delivered to homes decades ago, and even milk bottles have become a thing of the past; so much a thing of the past that there are now milk bottle collectors and your old bottles could fetch a great price at auction.

The UK milk comes in pints, in cartons, and nowadays you have to buy it at grocery stores. There were lots of advantages to abandoning bottles and taking up with cartons. Cartons are easier to use, cheaper to make, and if you drop an open carton of milk, all that needs to be cleaned up is the milk, and not the milk and glass splinters of yesteryear. Cartons made sense.

Cream still comes in cartons in Ontario, but the milk containers will baffle you; they come in wallowing malleable plastic containers containing 4 litres (just over 7 pints) at a time. They are quite heavy and difficult to carry because of the way they flop about. Each floundering container has milk in three separate pliable holders, presumably holding 1 ⅓ litres each. Opening the main holder can be difficult, but when you get to the 3 clear inner milk holders, you will have a different problem; what to do with them?

1 ⅓ litres of milk.
1 ⅓ litres of milk.
Milk Jug.
Milk Jug.

Where's that straw?

How to open them? You will consider piercing a hole in it and sucking the milk through a straw? But then, as soon as you punctured it, you would have a sudden splurge of escaping milk. After pondering this problem for a few minutes, it will dawn on you that you will have to snip a corner off, and possibly hold it under your arm as you pour the milk into a cup. But that would be impossible without spilling all of it. A small slicer is provided for you to cut off the corner of the container, and most families keep their slicer attached to the refrigerator by a magnet. The slicers are irritating to use, and you might find it a lot easier to use a pair of scissors.

But? Won't you need a container before cutting off the corner - a jug perhaps?

And, surprise, surprise, Ontario has jugs precisely for that use. First of all, you will have to place the separate milk holder into the jug. You will have to make sure the container goes right to the bottom of the jug. In order to do this, once the container is in the jug, give the jug a couple of hard whacks on the counter or somewhere similar. (If you don’t get the milk container to the bottom of the jug, when you begin to pour the milk out through the cut on the corner, the milk container will flop over the jug edge and you’ll get more milk on the counter and yourself than you will in the cup).

You will get used to the system after a few weeks; you might mutter some dark thoughts, but you’ll get used to it – after all, you won’t have any choice. And, using these types of containers saves a lot on manufacturing, and the used containers are recyclable. It is an excellent attempt by Canada to become even greener.

container opener.
container opener.

Or is America Profligate?

When I arrived in Ontario, I became used to the system, until my American grandson drove up from New York State, to visit us for the first time. As he was a teenager, we made allowances for him when he didn’t understand the ‘squeeze in’ idea of some bottle tops, and when he couldn’t understand why we didn’t have every meal at McDonalds. In fact we forgave him far too much, until he sneered at our milk containers

“So it’s true what they say about Canadians, you’re either meaner than the Scots, or Canada is a very poor country.”

“How do you work that out?” I asked, with forbearance wearing thin.

He snorted and went out to his car. He came back carrying a large empty glass jug.

“In the States this is how we buy our milk. It comes in 1 gallon glass jugs, not bits of leftover plastic.”

The only thing I buy in containers that size is laundry detergent. Although the jug had a handle, it was hard to imagine how difficult it must be to pour - or have a drink out of - a gallon container. Apart from which, the milk must sour faster with all that milk coming in and out of the fridge each time. At least with the plastic containers, only 1 litre is being used at one time, and the other containers remain in the fridge until needed. And, to my mind, it was waste of resources as the milk jugs would not be made out of recycled glass.

Our grandson stayed for a week, criticizing almost everything in the house and in the country. Were we pleased to see him go? Put it this way – must we love our relations? © tbmcv 2013 All rights reserved.

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 3 years ago from Canada

You know when you do something all the time and never think about it, then someone asks you why you do it, and all you can think to say is "Huh. You know, I've never thought about it before" .. This hub made me do that. lol.

I've never actually thought about milk containers.. I'm born and raised in Ontario and it never occurred to me that it might be looked at as weird that our milk comes in bags... Is this really just a Canadian thing? lol..

We can still get milk in cartons here too though, as well as those big jugs they favour in the states... But the carton milk and the jugged milk generally is higher in price for less milk.

Nice hub. I always enjoy learning that something I think of as perfectly normal, is in fact, strictly a Canadian thing. lol.. Bagged milk.... A Canadian thing.. Who'd a thunk it? lol... I guess we can add that to the list along with Ketchup and dill pickle chips, and poutine. :)

Nice job!

Cheers!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment Jess. I didn't know you could still get milk in jugs and cartons here. All I've ever seen in the stores near here are the bags of milk. As far as I know it is a Canadian thing, and it did throw me for a loop when I first came across it. Believe me, Canada has lots of oddities - like Tim Hortons???? LOL.

When I first came to Canada for a visit, my daughter took me into a Tim Hortons for the first time and asked for a 'double double.' Me, like an idiot, asked "Is that Canadian?" I got told, "No, that's Tim Hortons."


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 3 years ago from Canada

lol.. Yeah, jugs and cartons are usually found in corner stores still. :) Ah, good ol' Tim Hortons... It just makes everyday so much better to start it off with a double double :) There must be little oddities and comforts like that in Scotland that we don't have here? Scotland is on my list of places I'd love to visit one day. It looks so beautiful.


cheaptrick profile image

cheaptrick 3 years ago from the bridge of sighs

When I was a child[in Italy],drinking milk was a dangerous thing to do in our small town.I almost died one day while drinking milk...the cow fell on me...


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

I know the feeling well, cheaptrick. When I was a teenager in Scotland I tried to milk a bull, and it tossed me.


chrisinhawaii 3 years ago

I've spent my whole life in the US (38 years), and I was surprised to read that there is some part of the country that still uses glass bottles for milk. I thought we did away with that completely before I was even born! In California and Hawaii, we just use plastic 1 gallon bottles and paper cartons (half gallon or smaller).

The plastic bag method looks interesting. I think I would make a big mess with that lol

On behalf of the United States of America, I would like to apologize for your grandson's disrespectful behavior. He sounds like he needs a good slap in the mouth!

That's what my mom would've done if she heard me talking like that =)

Aloha!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

chrisinhawaii - A good swift kick up the a*** is what he needs, but then who are we to tell his mother that - the daughter who came home with her hair painted blue one night, way back 30 years ago.

I checked up before putting this article online, Chris, and most of the bottles are plastic, but you can still get the odd glasss one.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

JessBraz

Yes, Scotland is a beautiful country - but it's only about the size of one of Ontario's decent sized fields. I mentioned to a friend here, that I'd cycled around Scotland when I was a teenager. He scoffed and said, "but it isn't as big as South Stormont." Cheeky man.

I'll have to sit down and think about Scottish oddities, it's just like here when I said I was going to do an article about clearing snow. My wife said "That's a waste of time, everybody knows how to do that." If you do it most of your life, you don't think that it could be interesting to others. Thanks for the visit Jess.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

Thanks, if I ever meet a plastic bag full of milk, I'll know exactly what to do - get a milk jug. Living in Florida, I probably won't run into a Canadian milk jug any time soon, unless it's on a trip to visit relatives (I may have some cousins who are polar bears!) Voted up and funny!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

SidKemp

Glad to be of service young man. I'm surprised you haven't seen some Canadian milk bags, what with all the Canadian Snowbirds who winter down there every year. Thanks for the votes and the reading. I may have some (alligators? crocodile?) relations down there, and let's hope the stay there. Take care.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Not so sure, John, that I would get used to milk in bags - we use cartons in the states. But then I don't drink much milk in the first place. Though I do believe, when in Rome, do as the Romans do . . . speak Italian ;)


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

That's alligators, my friend. Crocodiles are African, I believe.

Are you trying to tell me that Canadians cross the border with their milk bags???


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Thanks for the visit and comment young 'un, You'd be understood in Scotland if you spoke Italian - most of the cafe owners are Italian,


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Of course! It has to be alligators; 'see you later crocodile' doesn't thyme. Naturally the plastic bags had no milk in them - millions of cigarettes, but no milk. Appreciate the visit and comment, SidKemp.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Well who would have thought it? lol! I would get in a very milky muddle using one of those. I am so used to milk cartons that the Canadian way would get me in a befuddled muddle! haha!


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Thanks for the visit and comment Nell. You can imagine the befuddled muddle I got into for the first few weeks - now it is second nature, but I still love the cream better, as it comes in cartons.


Desmith3 profile image

Desmith3 3 years ago from Tallapoosa, GA.

When prompted with "See you later alligator" the proper response here in the American Southeast is "After while crocodile" It rhymes properly but otherwise makes no sense whatsoever due to the fact, mentioned above, that there are no crocodiles in the States. At least not legally. Nice Hub, voted up and funny :)


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I love Canada but they do come up with some funny stuff. The milk container is ridiculous and very strange. We had a milkman named Bill when I was growing up. Poor guy had to deliver milk to lonely housewives all day and drink coffee and pastries. Apparently they didn't work on the time clock. Nice hub.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Desmith3: Forgive me for not answering your comment sooner, Desmith. Put it down to old age and memory loss. I remember those lines from way, way back in my youth. Wasn't that a song at one time?


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

We have those plastic bags here in New Zealand, only one layer though and only 1 ltr and not as floppy as yours, they don't provide a jug though and they are not very popular. I think it would take me a good long while to get used to using your milk pouches. The 2 ltr plastic bottle is the most popular here, we also have the cartons.

I am guessing you won't be having your grandson over to stay very often. Yes he deserves a kick up the rear end.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Rosemay50: Thanks for reading and commenting Rosemay. I prefer the milk cartons; the floppy bag still catches me out. I haven't seen grandson for a while, but I am hoping he has wised up with age.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

This wonderful hub made me smile.....hey, why cry over the possibility of spilt milk. I'm sure there's a lot of energy and money saved on packaging, so in some ways it's very practical. We waste so much on needless packaging here in the UK, maybe we could learn from Canada.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

tobusiness: Thanks for reading and commenting tobusiness. I don't know if the UK could learn much from Canada. There are so many things the UK has that Canada hasn't. No washer/dryers here. Most hot water is still made by heating a hot water tank instead of gas on demand - if you go on a winter vacation you still have to leave your power on to heat the tank: complete waste of energy.

It is a more throw-away society than the UK.


ElleBee 2 years ago

Interesting - never heard of these milk bags. I can't imagine how it would work, without mess! But I can see your point that milk would keep faster if you didn't have to take out all of it every time you went to pour. Here in Mass we get our milk in plastic jugs for gallons, and 1/2 gallons and smaller containers come in either plastic jugs or the cartons depending on brands. Personally I don't drink a ton of milk, and have started switching over to almond milk when I do so its not a big thing for me! We do have a resurgence of traditional dairies including milk delivery in our area though. I know a few people who get glass bottle milk delivered to their house.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting ElleBee. I'm surprised to hear that there is a resurgence of milk bottles and as for the delivery, that's awesome. Back to the good auld days??


ElleBee 2 years ago

That's what it sounds like. We definitely have quite the community for green & sustainability here, and small scale agriculture and agritourism is a big part of our business so I think all those tie together, in favor of the small farms and dairy delivery. I don't think I can get it in my town, but I know relatives nearby who have the service and if I lived in their town I would totally consider it!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working