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Projects for Recycling Milk Cartons

Updated on December 9, 2017

Reusing Milk and Juice Cartons: Recycling Your Milk Cartons!

Tips to Recycle Milk Cartons: Are you looking for ideas on how to recycle 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?

When challenged, people can come up with some amazing ideas on how to reuse things that may be considered junk by others. We live in a time when we need to challenge ourselves to recycle what we would otherwise throw away. Cutting down on our 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

Some Suggested 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!

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, 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: Carefully poke holes in the bottom of a carton you have cut down to a reasonable height. 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 -- after the building block directions.

Home-made Building Blocks from Recycled Milk Cartons

Recycling Milk Cartons to Make Toys

How to Make Blocks from Milk Cartons

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?

These blocks are really durable and if you cover them with contact paper, they can look good, too.

1.Open up the peaked tops of two clean, used milk or juice cartons.

2. Fit one over the other so that the bottom shows at each end. You now have a surprisingly durable building block.

3. Cover it with contact paper if you like. You can add more blocks to your collection as you drink more milk!

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. Can you think of some uses for the color cube besides what is mentioned here?

New Game with Used Milk Cartons (Can Be Adapted for Any Recycled Square Box.)

You need two milk cartons. Use the bottom edge of one carton as a measure. Place sideways and trace a line on the second carton so that your measured line is as high up on the carton as the carton is wide.

Cut with a knife along the trace line (again, adults 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. (Cut six squares of construction paper the same size as the carton surface. Use a swab of glue stick to hold each square in place and then 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 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.

Measure one carton with the bottom of the other to get the right height.
Measure one carton with the bottom of the other to get the right height.

2

Cut with a serrated knife.

Cut with a serrated knife.
Cut with a serrated knife.

3

Fit one carton over the other.

Fit one carton over the other.
Fit one carton over the other.

It helps to pinch the corners.

It helps to pinch the corners.
It helps to pinch the corners.

You now have a milk carton cube!

You now have a milk carton cube!
You now have a milk carton cube!

4

Measure and cut squares of brightly colored paper. (Though the sides are supposedly square, be sure to measure before you cut.)

Measure and cut squares of brightly colored paper. (Though the sides are supposedly square, be sure to measure before you cut.)
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!

 

Recycling Milk Cartons in a Big Way: Milk Carton Castle - Recycled Milk Cartons Fit for Royalty

When I came across this site showing photos of a kids' project using recycled milk cartons, I just had to add it to this lens! This milk carton castle is an amazing feat. The cartons were collected by children in Grenada and the final structure is impressive indeed.

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.

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.

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 sheilamarie78

What Do You Think About Recycling Milk Cartons? - Do You Have a Favorite Project Using Recycled Milk Cartons?

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    • sheilamarie78 profile image
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      sheilamarie78 3 years ago

      @tazzytamar: I hope you get to try some of the ideas. Let me know when you do!

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      These are all great ideas - I'm looking forward to doing some of these with my son when he's old enough

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 3 years ago

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Thanks! I hope you get to use some.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      Great ideas for kids crafts

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Great ideas! It's giving me ideas for my next lens. Thanks!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @editionh: Thanks for your comment, EditionH. I guess we can reuse almost anything

      when we let our imaginations loose.

    • profile image

      editionh 4 years ago

      I am stunned. Incredible what you can do with these milk cartons. :).

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @dellgirl: You're welcome, dellgirl. I hope you get to try a project or two.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      This is really cool and such a good idea for a lens. Thanks for taking time to put this together and for sharing it.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @Rhonda Lytle: Good point, poetvix. When I read your comment, I had a vision of my kids

      when little drinking down their milk so they could use the empty carton for

      a project. Double purpose teaching moment!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      How awesome is this? Not only do the kids have crafty fun and help the planet, but it's a great motivator to get them to drink their milk. Too cool.

    • HSP Connections profile image

      Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      This is cool-- good creative suggestions here. The recycling folks here don't actually accept "waxed paper" (i.e. milk cartons) in the paper or cardboard bin... and we have grandkids, so there are projects in the making, here!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 4 years ago

      I like the windmill idea. Love that people are into recycling.. yay.. save the planet.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      What a great idea you have! I am just amazed to see this lens. Blessed by takkhis :)

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @johnsja: Thank you, johnsja!

    • profile image

      johnsja 4 years ago

      Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @Lynda Makara: Thanks for your comment and the blessing, Lynda.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      I like the windmill project. Very clever. Angel blessings.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @getmoreinfo: Thanks, Get More Info!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      This Projects for Recycling Milk Cartons is really a cool idea.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Nice to see you here again, too, Tipi!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Its fun to stop by here again and be reminded of all the things I can do with those milk cartoons.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: I agree. It's wonderful to be able to reuse something like a milk carton.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Milk cartons can make great crafts.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @myspace9: Myspace9, milk in bags can only be found in Ontario and Quebec, as far as I

      know. I used to buy my milk that way when I lived in Quebec. I used to

      reuse the bags for many things, too. They are so strong.

    • tomzi123 lm profile image

      tomzi123 lm 4 years ago

      Very great idea. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      myspace9 4 years ago

      Very interesting and informative lens. I don't use milk cartons, instead of that I bring big bag with three packets. Thanks.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      @Lee Hansen: Great ideas for reusing milk cartons, Pastiche!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 4 years ago from Vermont

      I use my cartons for planting seeds in the spring. I've also got a pattern to make a little change purse from a milk carton. Now I need to find some time for crafting.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 5 years ago

      @aesta1: Wow! I've seen some of those purses (I don't remember where they were made). Thanks for reminding me. They were great!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      In Phnom Pehn they make beautiful purses and bags from milk and juice cartons so most of us leave our cartons in front of the store at a cart they have provided.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 5 years ago

      @LouisaDembul: Perfect idea, too!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I recycle milk cartons by using them as flower pots. Perfect size!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice

    • profile image

      msseiboi 5 years ago

      What a great idea...

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 5 years ago

      @BuckHawkcenter: Thanks, Buckhawk. And thanks for the blessing. I hope you have fun with your granddaughter!

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 5 years ago

      Great projects for recycling milk cartons. This looks like a fun thing I can do with my granddaughter.

    • SailingPassion LM profile image

      SailingPassion LM 5 years ago

      Lots of fun for the children :-)

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I think you are talking about clear contact paper. You can cover the sides of the cube with cut-to-size squares of contact paper.

      It sounds like another great project! Thanks for sharing it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I once saw a milk carton used to make a photo cube and want to do this as an end of the year project with my children. I think it would be a nice keep sake for their parents. I can not remember the clear element put over the pictures but you get the idea.

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      There's one on my lens about celebrating choc chip cookies - glue a new label on the carton and it becomes a milk-carton chocolate chip cookie carrier. Milk & cookies go perfectly together - the templates are on my lens: http://www.squidoo.com/national-chocolate-chip-coo... I love your lens; thanks for sharing!

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      Tons of great projects here! :)

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great recycling lens - added as a feature on my Beyond Bottles and Cans

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing , and this is woven tissue box cover from milk carton.

      http://diyhowtodo.blogspot.com/2011/09/diy-tissue-...

      Milk carton bag

      http://diyhowtodo.blogspot.com/2011/02/diy-milk-ca...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hey I have reviewed your squidoo lens and I really liked it. Because of this I went ahead and âlikeâ you on squidoo. Giving your lens another like.

      When you have time, please take a look at my lens. It is located at

      http://www.squidoo.com/appliance-removal-louisvill...

      If you like my lens, please add a like to my lens as well. I am new to squidoo and I would appreciate any comments at all.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      We turned our recycled milk cartons into garden ducks. By cutting the bottles just right, the wind whistles through the tops an' helps keep the animals away from the garden. You should hear the spooky sounds that come through the tops of the milk bottles.

    • KingLobster LM profile image

      KingLobster LM 6 years ago

      There is certainly a lot more that one can do with milk cartons than I would have ever realized. Unfortunately, I am not a handy one by any means. I do not think that I could attempt to even build on of these if I wanted to. Just had to visit this lens after writing one on chocolate milk. lol. Anyway, great work!

    • profile image

      MintySea 6 years ago

      very cool ideas

    • profile image

      Kokoluvver 6 years ago

      Nice lens! Very helpful!

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 6 years ago

      My favorite project is building gingerbread or graham cracker houses and villages with milk cartons along with some of those small cereal boxes, like the ones from cereal variety packs. This project is actually a holiday variation on your "castle." Put the boxes together and cover them with graham crackers ("glued" on with hard icing.) "Paint" them with more icing and decorate them with candy. The tops of the cartons make the perfect rooftops and the large cartons provide focus and make awesome clock towers, rooftops, and/or steeples. ~ Love the castle, lantern and windmill projects! Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      great showcase in what can be made using milk cartons, very original lens and I gave you a 'thumbs up'.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      I love things like this - after all, it's far more fun to make something instead of sending it off the the recycling plant!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      Returning to give a lttle angel blessing and let you know this lens has been added to my Upcycling Ideas lens.

    • LadyJasmine LM profile image

      LadyJasmine LM 6 years ago

      Just so you know I enjoyed your lens, so I blessed it and featured it here: https://hubpages.com/education/back-to-school-bles

    • bangcool profile image

      bangcool 6 years ago

      Great lens, need great creativity and ideas to make some new goods from recicle one

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Very creative uses for what most people would simply throw away. *Blessed by angel on the Back to School Bus Trip*

    • profile image

      fajack 6 years ago

      great lens , keep up the good work

    • profile image

      Runnn 6 years ago

      Thanks for raising awareness on recycling.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really very creative and resourceful. I usually bring my empties to a store that makes bags out of these milk and juice cartons.

    • profile image

      Jerrad28 6 years ago

      Very creative! Thanks :)

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 6 years ago from West Virginia

      When I was in high school, we used milk cut off milk cartons to pour plaster of paris in. Once dried, we got to carve sculptures out of it. I still have one of my sculptures.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      When all else fails (or, after all else has been done to it), there's always the compost pile!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 6 years ago

      Hi it is good idea to use as planting seeds, also the bowling pins. All the best. Anna

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 6 years ago

      hi great idea to use it as planting seds or bowling pins. All the best. Anna

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      These are great ideas! Fantastic lens.

    • profile image

      Dinostore 6 years ago

      This is a great lens--such a wonderful purpose! Thumbs up and fav'd.

    • kguru1979 lm profile image

      kguru1979 lm 6 years ago

      This is a marvelous invention and fantastic ... good...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What fantastic ideas! When we put our minds to it, we really can make a difference!

    • RuthieDenise profile image

      RuthieDenise 6 years ago

      These are cute ideas. I will have to tell my daughter.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 6 years ago

      Blessed By A Squid Angel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great ideas and something anyone can do with your directions. I love the idea for building blocks!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      What fantastic ideas! so simple effective and cool for the kids!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      Working on the building blocks for my grandkids to enjoy at our vacation home.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I like the milk cube, so simple and yet fun to make too for kids.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Great suggestions! I didn't even realize we could still get milk in cardboard/paper cartons.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 7 years ago

      You are very creative and green!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      This is GREAT! Must lensroll to my soap pieces page, and be sure I try some of the suggestions here:-)

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      great ideas - thanks

    • nicoleacosta1 profile image

      nicoleacosta1 7 years ago

      Now my kids and I have something fun to do with our milk cartons! Thanks for sharing this.

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 7 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      What a fun way of recycling used milk cartons. Very good and clear instructions.

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      What a fun recycling project! Loved the use of step by step photos and the clear instructions. ~Blessed~

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Great ideas here. Featured on Parenting Young Children

    • mikerbowman profile image

      mikerbowman 7 years ago

      How fun! I want to try to make a mile carton lantern...

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      Viva recycling!

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 7 years ago

      Cool. Good thought! I'm trying to figure out what to do with my used baby food jars. I have a ton!!

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 7 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Loved this lens! We use our milk cartons to freeze fish. My dad fishes 3-4 times a week and we save the cartons which work perfectly.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      added to the following lens:

      http://www.squidoo.com/lovely-crafts

      Poutine

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Fun ideas here. Should help keep the kiddies busy for a while.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Great milk carton ideas.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      I made a periscope once with a milk carton to see who has been taking the cookies from across the cubicle at work.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great craft ideas - and lensrolled to my Recycling lens :)

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      Some useful and fun ideas here. Well done. The seed planters would be useful for me :-)

    • nukemdomis lm profile image

      nukemdomis lm 7 years ago

      The garden planter looks like a quick and easy project. I might have to give that idea a closer look.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

      I like the windmill milk carton. I think it's important kids learn to make things, anything.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I like the color game.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love these creative ideas. Recycling items that can be used for games and for education is so rewarding and fun!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image
      Author

      sheilamarie78 7 years ago

      Thank you, CherylK. I'll have to post some photos (after I take them, of course!).

      I usually use the half gallon size, but you could use another size if that's what you have.

      Good luck -- I hope your grandchildren enjoy the game.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      This is a very nice lens...I like your ideas. These would be fun to do with my grandchildren! Do you have any pictures illustrating how to make the color game? What size cartons do you use for that? I like to use milk cartons to plant seeds indoors before planting season. They have lots of room in them and they're waterproof!