The re-rise of the Milkman

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

The rise of the milkman (again)

With the recent global pandemic at the forefront of everyone’s minds it can be difficult to escape from the idea of a completely new world. Yet instead of envisaging a post- apocalyptic ‘zombie-led’ environment could this not be the time for us to take a step back to our roots and to embrace our old traditions?

With the clamp down on people leaving their houses, and restrictions being put on purchasing powers, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of people going out; a reduction in the number of people just popping to the supermarket for a pint of their favourite milk.

Instead, we have been encouraged to make changes to how we shop. We could use this as an opportunity to act on environmental recommendations to ‘buy less, but buy better quality’.

There are ways that we can make these changes; to reduce our exposure to the outside world AND to reduce our environmental impact.

A good old-fashioned milkman is able to help you with these steps to change.

In the 1970s/80s more than 90% of milk sales were from bottles delivered directly to the doorstep. In 2016, this had plummeted to just 3%, yet statistics have shown that these services are making a comeback. Milk & More, the nation’s largest milk delivery service signed up 75,000 new households in 2019, and are expecting greater increases in sign-ups, and their reach is becoming wider.

We're now in a position where global warming can no longer be ignored. One of the major contributors to this massive environmental change is fossil fuels; used both in production of and materials in the plastic bottle.

There are changes available to us that can alter this trend, and we are now in a better position to implement these.

It is well-known that, in the UK, we are consuming large quantities of plastic – much more than the environment can keep up with. 8 million tonnes of this plastic ends up in the ocean and is consumed by wildlife. There have been programs, films, documentaries highlighting these devastating effects and we have begun to see a change.

Following the lead of heroic figures like David Attenborough, each person is taking responsibility for their personal choices, directing their efforts in ways that they believe will decrease their environmental impact.

As individuals we have become more aware of the devastating impact of the plastic bottle, and have begun to lose faith in large chain supermarkets, they have been looking towards the past for alternatives.

The milk bottles left by your local milkman are predominantly glass-based. If you leave these out for your milkman the following week, they are picked up after use and re-used. One glass bottle can be used an average of 25 times and, unlike plastic, there is little concern of chemical leakage.

When night time comes and we are all tucked in our beds, there are folk who are busy zipping around in their electric powered vehicles, providing plastic-free m*lk alternatives and other useful groceries directly to your door. In the morning you can wake up, run to your front door and be greeted by a little (much anticipated) surprise. This is what nostalgia feels like, yet it might be time for this to be part of our future!

words by Alice Harrison