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Do Milk Cartons Make Canada Poor

Updated on December 15, 2019
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. You'll probably think a lot of Canadian things are odd, I did, but I'm not going to complain too much, not until I learn how to swim eastwards.

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.


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