Projects for Recycling Milk Cartons
Tips for Recycling Your Milk Cartons!
Do you buy your milk and juice in cartons? Want to do something with the empty cartons better than tossing them into the trash?
Sometimes your junk can be the raw material for creative projects. We live in a time when we need to challenge ourselves to recycle what we would otherwise throw away.
Cutting down on purchases and consumption is unavoidable for our future, and with a little ingenuity, we can transform the refuse left from what we do buy to make useful and creative items that meet more of our needs. The challenge can be quite enjoyable and you deserve a pat on your back for seeking to reuse your trash!
Here are some ideas on what you can make with empty milk and juice cartons. Ready to get started?
All photos, except in the videos, are my own.
Five Things You Can Make With Recycled Milk Cartons
Clean Your Empty Carton Thoroughly and You Are Ready to Go
Ways to Use an Empty Milk Carton
1. Home made Building Blocks: Open up the peaked tops of two clean, used milk or juice cartons. Fit one over the other so that the bottom shows at each end. You now have a surprisingly durable building block. Cover it with contact paper if you like. You can add more blocks to your collection as you drink more milk! Some people spend money buying pre-made cardboard blocks. Why not save your money and make your own cardboard blocks from your recycled milk cartons?
2. Bowling Pins: Stand up a few cartons to knock over with a ball. If you want them to look fancy, cover them with contact paper and make numbers and dots on them with a marker.
3. Doll House: Cover your carton with used paper grocery bags or used gift wrap then cut out windows and doors with an exacto knife (adults-only job). Decorate your house with markers. Make a whole village using different sized milk and cream cartons.
4. Garden Planter: Cut the peaked top half off your carton and then carefully poke holes in its bottom. Fill with soil and plant some seeds according to the directions on your seed packet. Watch the seeds sprout and grow. Later you can transplant the seedlings in your garden or if the plants stay small enough, you can keep them on a sunny windowsill.
5. The Color Cube Game: See directions for this game below.
5. The Color Cube Game: Another Idea for Recycling Milk Cartons
I made this one up. It can be really fun!
After making this colorful cube, you can use it to play many different games.
You need two milk cartons. Using the bottom edge of one carton as a measure, trace a line on the second carton so that your measured line is as high up on the carton as the carton is wide. (See the photos below.)
Cut with a knife along the trace line (a job for adults or older children with supervision only).
Measure and cut the same way with the other carton. You now have two shorter cartons.
Fit the open end of one into the open end of the other. You now have a cube.
Cover each surface with a different color construction paper.
- Measure six squares of construction paper to fit the carton surface;
- Glue each square to one of the surfaces of the cube;
- Tape along the edges to keep the construction paper from lifting off. (Electric tape or duct tape works the best.)
Optional: If you want your cube to have longevity, you can cover the whole thing with clear contact paper.
Use your finished cube as a giant die.
Here are some possible games you can play using the color cube:
1. Take turns rolling the cube and naming the color. Find something in the room that matches it.
2. If you're ambitious, make cards from the same colors of construction paper with actions to perform. The child rolls the cube, chooses a card of the same color, and does that activity (sing a song, say a nursery rhyme, hop on one foot, etc.)
3. Use the cube at clean-up time. Roll the die and pick up and put away toys of that color.
4. Use your imagination to make up another game using the color cube. (Please share your idea below!)
How to Make the Cube for the Color Cube Game
Measure one carton with the bottom of the other to get the right height.
Cut with a serrated knife.
Fit one carton over the other.
It helps to pinch the corners.
You now have a milk carton cube!
Measure and cut squares of brightly colored paper. (Though the sides are supposedly square, be sure to measure before you cut.)
Here Is Your Milk Carton Color Cube, All Ready to Play Your Game!
Here Are Two Projects You Can Make With Recycled Milk Cartons! - Milk Carton Lantern Project
The first project gives clear, fun directions for building a lantern.
You will have to help your child with these projects unless you have an ambitious teenager in the house.
Halloween project -- lantern! The same principles can be used to make special lanterns for other times of year. Just change the decorations.
Scary face for your desk.
Make a Windmill from Your Recycled Milk Carton - Milk Carton Windmill Project
This second project describes how to make a windmill. Though the final result looks like a toy that is a lot of fun, the process is a bit complicated.
You will probably have to help your child with this one, too.
Here Are Some Links to Other Projects Using Recycled Milk Cartons - And Some with Jugs, Too!
- Bird House
Cover with masking tape and color brown to look like bark.
Gives directions with some interesting details that make the basic house come alive. Also suggests using milk carton as a base for a gingerbread house!
Good for Christmas or birthday presents.
- Traffic Light
Helpful when teaching children about traffic lights and what they mean. Includes a little rhyme you could set to music to help a child remember what to do when you see the different colors.
- Milk Jugs
35+ Uses for plastic milk jugs in the garden and home. Creative, practical ideas.
- Turn A Plastic Milk Jug Into A Reusable Lunch Box — Family Fun | Apartment Therapy
The new cool lunchroom sensation! Uses milk jug.
- Recycling Milk Cartons
Ideas about how to freeze a water-filled milk carton and use with a fan to cool pets, among other cool ideas.
But I Buy My Milk in Plastic Milk Jugs! - What Happens to My Plastic Jugs After My Town Collects Them? How Are They Recycled?
If your municipality recycles plastic milk jugs, hurray! Recycled plastic milk containers (HDPE) can be made into many products, including toys, furniture, and more. Here are some links to products made with recycled plastic #1.
Can a person reuse the jug before sending it to the recycle bin? Certainly!
I have seen people cut a plastic jug to make a dustpan for cleaning up messes. I've also seen homemade garden shovels using the handle side of the jug and cutting away some of the rest.
You can also make a game for tossing a ball back and forth using the handle and cutting the bottom off the jug. Using your imagination, I'll bet you could come up with more ideas.
But if you're not really the crafty type, but you still want to support companies that use the plastic recycled from your jugs, you'll be happy to discover that the products below have all been manufactured using post consumer recycled plastic.
- Adirondack Glider Bench
Adirondack Glider Bench built from recycled plastic milk containers (HDPE).
- Cedar Outdoor Furniture
Distributor of the highest quality Amish-made outdoor poly lumber and wood furniture, gazebos, and pergolas. Also carry lawn décor like windmills, bridges, and lighthouses. This site features the Berlin Gardens line of top-quality products.
Sustainable furniture made from recycled milk jugs.
- notNeutral's Recycled Outdoor Kids Furniture
Children's furniture made from Milk Jugs. Tea Parties will be oh so fun on this kids' furniture!
- Green Toys
This site tells how Green Toys are made from plastic milk jugs
Do You Have a Favourite Project?
Describe a project you like to make using recycled milk cartons. Or tell us which of the projects on this page you like the best.
© 2010 Sheilamarie