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Milk Crates - not as green as you think Answered

I know milk crates are a really sturdy container and popular for a lot of "green" projects.

The problem is that they're stolen.  They belong to the dairy whose name is printed on the sides.  Dairies reuse these crates.  They don't discard them, contrary to popular belief.

Reusing them would be green if they were discarded.  Sadly, dairies must keep replacing their stolen milk crates.  That means more resources used.  The milk crates outside stores aren't being thrown away; they're awaiting pickup from the dairy driver.

Even damaged crates belong to the dairies.  They send them to be repaired and continue to use them.



if you have a table saw here is an easy crate of the same size if not bigger made from a 4.99 2x6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IculE7KpDaM

You can't seriously be arguing that milk crates are a non-transferable asset.

I have milk crates that I did not steal.
I have been given them by store owners who have gone out of business or switched dariies. The daries didn't come for their crates.
I have gotten them from dumpsters and other collections of discarded items.
I have been given them.
To return these items to the rightful daries would require me to extend effort and give the dairy free labor. It would cost me more time and effort than the crate is worth.
Is it green to use discards. Absolutely. Is it green to spend time and effort to return discards to the owners. No.
I would not expect a dairy driver to spend time tracking down the owner of a hat or pair of gloves that might have been left on one of his crates


5 years ago

I have switched to kosher pickle buckets with lids :)

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it would be nice if someone, somewhere sold milk crates that could be bought outright. Oh, and don't suck.

They sell crate-like objects at the hardware store, but they're not nearly as well made.

I ended up making a ton of wooden ones. They're fairly useful as nomadic furniture, but not nearly as nice for holding books as I thought.

What are your wooden crates like? Joinery-wise I mean.

At $6 a piece online, dairy crates are still cheaper than a lot of other materials for creating basic furniture.

Crates can safely be arranged into small shelf units if they're zip-tied (I used wire back in the day) together tightly. I liked milk crates for efficiently storing and accessing lots of mass market paperbacks, as well as CDs, videotapes, and audio cassettes. I still use an extra-big record crate for storing my LPs.

A few strategically placed crates can raise a mattress or futon off the floor on a slab of plywood.

Crates are great for carrying crap out to the desert and back, because you'll leave the sand and dust behind. They also stack, lock, and tessellate better than cardboard boxes, and won't be damaged by fluids or crushed by what is above them. This makes them good for hauling food.

I once made an abstract Christmas tree by stacking milk crates up into a trunk and sticking brooms and mops into it like branches. Lights, boom, Happy Holidays.


yea, these look like the real deal. $6.50 plus shipping is cheap too. I wish I could have bought these back in 1995, online, as easy as I could today.

The rectangular ones sold at this site hold more cubic inches per dollar paid, so would be my first choice.

My only other concern would be if a cop saw all your crates in the back of your car, would that now give him probable cause to search you vehicle?  I'd guess it would.

I also believe that once probable cause to do a warrantless search exists, showing the officer the legally own status of the crates would not extinguish the probable cause.

With grandmas being arrested for buying too much allergy medical and the fact that  the average person unknowingly commits an average of three felonies a day, I don't think my fear of warrantless searches is overblown.

Any reference to this statement? "the fact that the average person unknowingly commits an average of three felonies a day"

Given the number of badly-worded laws these days, I can see that easily being the case.

In the UK, it is an offence to possess information that could be of use to terrorists. Not only does that make most high-school chemistry text books (and the brains of the teachers) illegal, it makes it illegal to know where potential targets are, so if somebody stops me in the street and asks for directions to a police station, my helpful response would make me a criminal.

Add to that, the UK government has changed the law for the Olympics - unauthorised use of the Olympic rings and other logos is no longer a civil matter, but a criminal matter. The simple act of adding the images below, without getting written permission from the IOC makes me, technically, a criminal.

600px-olympic_rings_squaresvg.pngolympics_2012.jpgolympic_logo.pngolympic flag pink.jpg

Damn so what would they have done in the UK if This http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7187027/Polish-newspaper-claims-Pedobear-is-2010-Vancouver-Olympic-mascot.html were to have happened there?

Thats not the only printed foible either. Its a pretty big derp.

nice, lol.............


They're like a 5 sided box made of 3/8th inch plywood about the size of a milk crate. Inside there's a "ring" of 1x1.5 wooden strips, one around the inside bottom and one around the inside top of the box.

They're held together with over 20 drywall screws each. I've got 4 of them holding up my bedframe at the moment.

I'll try to post some pictures in a bit if that feature has not been removed by the anti-adblock scripting.

mine are all plywood and furring strips, held together with lots of screw and no glue, no mortise and no fancy CNC joints. The boxes are not even sanded and you can see the edge of the plywood on the simple lap joints.

I use mine all the time as step stools while painting walls,

nope, can no longer u/l a photo into a comment, even with all my anti-virus anti-ad and anti-script defenses disabled.

I'd log that as a bug, but it's probably a "feature".

linked article says they only cost about $4 each! Man, I would be happy to buy a truckload at that price. I'd even pay an extra buck to have them laser etched with my own name!

My wooden crates ended up being almost $4 each due to the large number of drywall screws each one used.

I used milk crates and boards for shelving in my first apt. I just took them back to the store when I was finished with them. they didn't really know what to think about that.

I work in a drugstore in Massachusetts and the company that brings our milk never makes any attempt to reclaim the ones they leave behind, they just pile up in the alley behind our building. along with the plastic racks the liters of soda come in.

The Container Store sells new milk crates for about $10 each. They are sturdy, not like the flimsy ones at some big box chains. You can also order them online. So, they are not as 'green' as something rescued from the trash, but they do last a long time and can be re-used for different projects.

The wooden pallets are sometimes reused and sometimes tossed, which is why it is important to ASK FIRST before taking them unless you are fishing them out of a dumpster. Same goes for the giant wooden spools.

Sadly, the shopping carts are always stolen. Even the ones found in a creek at the bottom of a ravine were originally stolen and could have been repaired. Many supermarkets are installing special wheels that lock when the cart is removed from the parking lot to deter theft and reduce overhead.

My local Craig's list has "come take them away" ads for pallets quite frequently in the "free stuff"

There are plenty of sources for legitimate milk crates. Sometimes dairies go out of business, I have a few crates bought at auction (actually bought as a lot by a liquidator who then sold them to me) or you can buy new.






6 years ago

Wow. Does the same thing happen all over the world? (I'm Australian)

I also live in Australia, and as far I know, milk crates are reused by the big milk producers. Obviously the main source for these is out the back of your average corner store, though in some places you can see they've been piled up and not collected, in some cases years. It's places like these where they're not being put to good use, though technically they ought to be, and often are.

It's one of the laws of physics, "If it ain't nailed down, it has a tendency to walk."

The company I work for buys generic milk crates from a shipping supplies company. They are the same quality as the dairy ones. We actually rent them to film crews to carry small equipment around. As for the shipping pallets I'm hearing you have to be careful what you use them for.Some are treated with nasty chemicals to kill off anything like diseases or pests that might be living on them. Cheers!


6 years ago

Aren't pallets stolen too?

Sometimes, or local news printer leaves them out back for free. They always have an ad somewhere saying to come take them

And since they're wood Im not sure i'd used them too many times :l

same deal with shopping carts