10 Uses for Milk Cartons

Photo: Numb3r/FlickrMaybe you don't go through milk by the jug like some people do, but chances are that you've got a steady supply of milk (or Lactaid) cartons streaming out of your house every month. You absolutely can recycle them, but did you know that there are also tons of other things you can do with them?

1. Kids' crafts

Upcycle used milk cartons for fun crafting sessions with your kids. Use the cartons to build houses in miniature, for birds, dolls, or Lego figures. Chasing Green has more fantastic (easy!) crafty suggestions, such as baby blocks or piggy banks. 

2. Planter box

Milk cartons are a great size for growing herbs and other small plants. Fill a carton with dirt, poke drainage holes in the bottom, and you have a great planter. If you don't want to look at a row of milk cartons, decorate the sides; try chalkboard paint, which lets you note details of what's planted in which carton. Milk cartons are also good for starting seeds indoors -- they're even popular with Cleveland landscapers for managing starts in the spring.

3. We're gonna need a bigger ice cube

If you live somewhere hot, you know how useful it is to have lots of ice around in the summer months. Try milk carton ice cubes on for size. Yes, seriously. Freeze water (leave some room for expansion!) in milk cartons for stacking in coolers or tossing into the yard for pets to play with. Kids might enjoy your oversized ice cubes too!

4. Floor protectors

If you're moving, chances are high that you're going to scuff your floors as you shift furniture around. That's no fun for anyone, especially your deposit. Cut-off milk carton "booties" for your furniture create a protective barrier between sharp couch, bed, and other feet and your floor.

5. Collaring for bug protection

Insects and slugs love attacking young plants, which is exactly what you don't want to happen. Use a cut-off milk carton to make a collar around seedlings to give them a chance to grow without being used as a snack by garden pests. As plants mature, you can remove the collars.

6. Bird house or feeder

Milk cartons are a great size for small birds and bats. Cut out a hole in the side and add straw, pine needles, or other natural liners to make a soft nest for creatures you want to invite inside. Install your birdhouse high enough that rats and mice won't be encouraged to take advantage of the new digs, and make sure it's out of reach of neighborhood predators, too. Here's an instructional guide to making a bird feeder from a milk carton.

7. Organizer

Milk cartons are great for organizing because of their standardized shape and size. You can use as many or as few as you need on a desk or workbench, inside drawers, and in other locations to keep small items like pens and pencils in order. Remember to wash your cartons out thoroughly to avoid sour milk smells.

8. Nifty little box

You'll need two cartons for this one. Cut the first off at the desired depth, and then cut the other off from the bottom at about one to two inches. The shorter carton will become the lid for the taller one. Cover the two boxes in paper, foil, or other decorations to make a lovely gift box out of totally recycled materials.

9. Frozen food storage

Milk cartons are a great size and height for storing stock, soups, stews, and more. Better yet, the design is ideal for slicing off as much as you need and putting the rest back into the freezer (you'll need to bag it to prevent freezer messes). Your solid frozen blocks of liquid foods will also help keep temperatures down in the freezer in the event there's a power interruption, so you won't have to throw out your frozen goods. Bonus!

10. Paint mixing

Working on a project? Milk cartons are great for paint mixing and storage, allowing you to take as much as you need from a larger can to work with while you're painting. When you're finished with the painting project, you can rinse and recycle your milk carton.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

Updated March 1 2018.

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