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Projects for Recycling Milk Cartons

Updated on March 24, 2016

Reusing Milk and Juice Cartons: Recycling Your Milk Cartons!

How to Use an Empty Milk Carton

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!

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts
The Big-Ass Book of Crafts

More projects to do with trash.

 

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!)

Kids' Projects Using Recycled Stuff!

 

Can You Think of Another Game You Could Use This Color Cube for? - Please Share Below

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    How to Make the Cube for the Color Cube Game

    1

    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.

    Recycle: Green Science Projects for a Sustainable Planet - Team Green Science Projects -- Library Binding

    Recycle: Green Science Projects for a Sustainable Planet (Team Green Science Projects)
    Recycle: Green Science Projects for a Sustainable Planet (Team Green Science Projects)

    Get some new ideas for recycling with this book. Science projects can be inspired by ways to recycle junk. Get inspired!

     

    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.

    More Books with Ideas on Recycling - Projects for Kids

    You can recycle lots of stuff we normally throw away to make projects with kids. Whether you use the ideas from these books or go solo with your own imaginations and your recycle bin, you can make any number of things with kids. Even what looks like only crafty or fun play can help your child learn problem solving and engineering skills.

    These books will be a great stepping off point for your own investigations. Many of these recycling books are also available in Kindle editions.

    Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin
    Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin

    Learn some new ways to recycle and make some great projects!

     

    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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      • 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!

      • 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.

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 6 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!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        I like the color game.

      • Bellezza-Decor profile image

        Bellezza-Decor 6 years ago from Canada

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

      • nukemdomis lm profile image

        nukemdomis lm 6 years ago

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

      • GonnaFly profile image

        Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

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

      • SheGetsCreative profile image

        Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

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

      • jlshernandez profile image

        jlshernandez 6 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.

      • SandyMertens profile image

        Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

        Great milk carton ideas.

      • profile image

        poutine 6 years ago

        added to the following lens:

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

        Poutine

      • Wbisbill LM profile image

        Barbara Isbill 6 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.

      • Senora M profile image

        Senora M 6 years ago

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

      • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

        MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

        Viva recycling!

      • mikerbowman profile image

        mikerbowman 6 years ago

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

      • norma-holt profile image

        norma-holt 6 years ago

        Great ideas here. Featured on Parenting Young Children

      • poptastic profile image

        Cynthia Arre 6 years ago from Quezon City

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

      • SueM11 profile image

        Sue Mah 6 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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

      • nicoleacosta1 profile image

        nicoleacosta1 6 years ago

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

      • hlkljgk profile image

        hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

        great ideas - thanks

      • profile image

        happynutritionist 6 years ago

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

      • DecoratingEvents profile image

        DecoratingEvents 6 years ago

        You are very creative and green!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

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

      • LisaAuch1 profile image

        Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Annamadagan 6 years ago

        Blessed By A Squid Angel.

      • RuthieDenise profile image

        RuthieDenise 6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

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

      • kguru1979 lm profile image

        kguru1979 lm 6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Dinostore 6 years ago

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

      • MamaBelle profile image

        Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

        These are great ideas! Fantastic lens.

      • 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

      • 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

      • 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!

      • 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.

      • profile image

        Jerrad28 6 years ago

        Very creative! Thanks :)

      • 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

        Runnn 6 years ago

        Thanks for raising awareness on recycling.

      • profile image

        fajack 6 years ago

        great lens , keep up the good work

      • Ramkitten2000 profile image

        Deb Kingsbury 5 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*

      • bangcool profile image

        bangcool 5 years ago

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

      • LadyJasmine LM profile image

        LadyJasmine LM 5 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

      • GonnaFly profile image

        Jeanette 5 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.

      • profile image

        JoshK47 5 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!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

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

      • Aquavel profile image

        Aquavel 5 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

        Kokoluvver 5 years ago

        Nice lens! Very helpful!

      • profile image

        MintySea 5 years ago

        very cool ideas

      • KingLobster LM profile image

        KingLobster LM 5 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!

      • yayas profile image

        yayas 5 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.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 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.

      • 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...

      • SheGetsCreative profile image

        Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

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

      • Brandi Bush profile image

        Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

        Tons of great projects here! :)

      • 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!

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • SailingPassion LM profile image

        SailingPassion LM 5 years ago

        Lots of fun for the children :-)

      • BuckHawkcenter profile image

        BuckHawkcenter 4 years ago

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

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        msseiboi 4 years ago

        What a great idea...

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        nice

      • LouisaDembul profile image

        LouisaDembul 4 years ago

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

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 4 years ago

        @LouisaDembul: Perfect idea, too!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 4 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 4 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!

      • 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 4 years ago

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

      • 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

        @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.

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 4 years ago

        Milk cartons can make great crafts.

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 4 years ago

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

      • 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

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

      • 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

        @getmoreinfo: Thanks, Get More Info!

      • 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

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

      • profile image

        johnsja 4 years ago

        Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 4 years ago

        @johnsja: Thank you, johnsja!

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 4 years ago

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

      • kathysart profile image

        kathysart 4 years ago

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

      • 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!

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 4 years ago

        @HSP Connections: I hope you enjoy making things with your grandkids! Come back and let us

        know how it went. Have fun!

      • 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.

      • 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!

      • 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

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

      • profile image

        editionh 3 years ago

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

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 3 years ago

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

        when we let our imaginations loose.

      • smine27 profile image

        Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

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

      • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

        June Parker 3 years ago from New York

        Great ideas for kids crafts

      • sheilamarie78 profile image
        Author

        sheilamarie78 3 years ago

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

      • 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

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

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