It is getting close to the time to begin planting early spring crops – broccoli, kale, lettuce, celery, parsley, beets, cauliflower.  Since we will be using (2) square foot gardens with hooped plastic coverings, I would expect that planting will take place by the end of February (11:56 hours of sunlight). In mid-January temperatures are registering plus 80 degrees under the plastic covering.  Some of the new seedlings needed to be transplanted into larger containers. I looked online to check prices of plastic pots.


Take a guess how many milk containers are thrown away at U.S. schools every day.

I needed to buy some pots.  My wife Kathy and I volunteer at the Randolph Community Middle School in Randolph, Massachusetts.  We have reused milk cartons from the cafeteria in the past for science experiments.  I decided I could send money to Amazon or pay a student to make pots out of milk cartons.

Used milk cartons are really cool.  First of all reusing them gives the soul a sense that we are doing green stuff.  More importantly they are the right size, easy to fill and the containers fit nicely into square plastic trays.  If the plants are difficult to remove, the sides can be cut so that the roots are not disturbed.  Our plan is to reuse the containers however, trust me; there are a lot more containers available in Randolph and to anyone in any community in America.

In the past I use to cut the bottom of the milk carton and then just pull the collar up when the plant is placed into the soil or in our case into Mel’s Mix.

I priced plastic pots at 20 cents each.  I considered paying the student 20 cents however I feel that over paying anyone for anything is a bad idea.  I settled on 16 cents because there are no transportation costs or marketing expenses.  The student gave me 21 containers; she did the math and collected the money.

For schools with agricultural programs or greenhouses, I hope this stimulates thought about reusing milk cartons.  For members of the gardening community, it would be nice to offer an opportunity for schools to reuse and be paid for what is normally just a part of the waste stream.



4 thoughts on “Milk Cartons – Green Cash

  1. Peter: Good to read your news. We should not have to have any cartons at all, but the large stainless steel refrigerated milk dispenser, instead of cartons. We have along way to go, before we leave a lesser carbon print in American Schools.   How was Hnduras, or have you returned yet.? We just came back from Panama and the ABC islands.

    1. Anneli,
      Thank you for your interest. We do have a long way to go.
      We just returned from Honduras. We built 2 Square Foot Gardens. One of the female students asked if we are coming back in May. She caught me by surprise and how could I say no. She was such a hard and enthusiastic worker. They have started a compost area and they are picking up horse manure on the dirt road to speed up and enrich the process. These are good times.

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