Plastic-Free July in Croydon

Doorstep milk deliveries

Posted by Admin on 23 August 2014

I’ve already written about plastic-free plant milk, but what if you prefer the version that comes from a cow? Here's a guest post from Brenda, who gets her milk in returnable glass bottles delivered to her doorstep.

Dairy Crest Ltd — trading as Milk & More with their green & white vans — appears to be the only firm still offering doorstep deliveries in Croydon. You are encouraged to be an online customer, ordering and paying online, but you can still pay by cash or cheque. Until recently, I could leave a note out for extra milk, but my latest milkman will not change an order on the day, instead I have to phone my request in.

Milk bottles on the doorstep. Cropped and tweaked from a photo by Ben (Falcifer), used under Creative Commons (cc-by-nc).

Milk currently costs 79p per pint bottle. The bottle is glass and the cap metal foil with a date stamp. Milk is a weak fertiliser, so bottle rinsings can be used to water the plants. The foil can be recycled and the bottles returned to the milkman.

Empty milk bottles waiting for collection. Photo © Scorpions and centaurs, found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons (cc-by-nc-sa).

For many years we had a traditional milkman who would have no problem with order changes, greet you in the street and go out of his way to oblige his customers. Many of us attended his funeral when he died.

As customers decline, rounds have amalgamated and there are now only three delivery days per week. My current milkman will not deliver for a single pint. Sometimes rounds are franchised out to individual milkmen and sometimes you pay Dairy Crest Limited. Often this is the only clue that a milkman has changed as you rarely see them.

The downside of doorstep deliveries is that there seems such a turnover in milkmen that you cannot guarantee delivery times, nor where a bottle is left. Treatment methods do mean that milk can stay perfectly drinkable for several days, but it is an extremely expensive luxury if you have to leave the house before the delivery and return to find it left in full sun. However, one huge plus point is that the milkman will also deliver other heavy items, such as potatoes, bottled water, compost (though most of these have plastic packaging!)

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