Milk­man

Is the mak­ing a come­back? Cheshire Life: June 2019

Cheshire Life - - The Edit -

For most of us nowa­days the milk bot­tle is the stuff of child­hood mem­o­ries: open­ing your door to get your pint of milk from a frosty step, peel­ing back the cold foil lid. If the cream had set­tled at the top, your dad would spoon it out, so it didn’t land in blobs on your ce­real. There was a com­fort­ing daily rit­ual around your pint of milk.

Most of us at some point per­formed this rou­tine: in 1975, 94% of UK milk was de­liv­ered in glass bottles. Then as con­ve­nience be­came key and com­pe­ti­tion drove a price war, we started to aban­don our lo­cal milk­man for a plas­tic pint at the su­per­mar­ket, along with our shrink-wrapped cu­cum­bers, her­met­i­cally-sealed chicken thighs, de­ter­gents in plas­tic bottles… plas­tic snuck into our bas­kets – and homes – at an alarm­ing rate.

But as the plas­tic back­lash con­tin­ues apace – largely thanks to Sir David At­ten­bor­ough and the so-called ef­fect – the milk­man might just be back on his rounds.

Cream­line Dairies, which has been de­liv­er­ing milk to Manch­ester and Cheshire since 1945, has seen an 85% in­crease in the num­bers of peo­ple get­ting glass bottles de­liv­ered to their homes in the last year (de­liv­ery is done by an elec­tric fleet so ku­dos on the green cre­den­tials there). Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, the glass bottles de­liv­ered to doorsteps in the last year equates to a stag­ger­ing 293 tonnes of plas­tic saved from go­ing to lo­cal land­fill.

‘The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of our glass milk bottles is def­i­nitely linked to peo­ple’s grow­ing

aware­ness of plas­tic pol­lu­tion,’ says Chris Swal­low, joint man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Cream­line. ‘As a com­pany we’ve been de­liv­er­ing tra­di­tional glass bottles to doorsteps for over 70 years and it’s great to see peo­ple get­ting re­ally pas­sion­ate about where their food and drink comes from again. En­vi­ron­men­tally, it’s not just about the plas­tic – they’re also re­duc­ing food miles by sup­port­ing lo­cal farm­ers.’

Cream­line aren’t the only ones to no­tice the in­creas­ing de­mand for lo­cally-pro­duced plas­ticfree milk. Ja­son Clare, 32, an en­tre­pre­neur from Wilm­slow is just about to launch Dairy Drop, an app that, he hopes, will bring peo­ple back to or­der­ing from their lo­cal milk­man. ‘When I read that the num­ber of peo­ple re­turn­ing to or­der­ing milk to their doorstep was in­creas­ing, I saw an op­por­tu­nity,’ says Ja­son who also co-founded a busi­ness Fruidel that de­liv­ers fruit to cor­po­rate of­fices. ‘Peo­ple don’t want plas­tic any­more – we’ve al­ready got rid of the plas­tic wrap­ping on our fruit bas­kets. I’ve seen the de­mand for it in that busi­ness so I know it’s out there. I think the main thing that puts peo­ple off or­der­ing from the milk­man is how an­ti­quated it all is; him turn­ing up on your door at 7pm to get cash. The app mod­ernises all of that.’

Easy or not, switch­ing back from plas­tic to glass bottles may feel like you’re mak­ing an in­signif­i­cant rip­ple in a oceanic sized is­sue, but the heart­en­ing news is that all these steps – us­ing a cot­ton tote bag here, or de­clin­ing a plas­tic straw there – can all add up. This is the mes­sage from Debbie Groom, from Ch­ester, who had an epiphany af­ter com­ing back from a hol­i­day in Corn­wall with her daugh­ter Mil­lie last sum­mer. Mil­lie had been vol­un­teer­ing with the ac­tion group Surfers Against Sewage, and when they came back home, they de­cided to try to live plas­ticfree them­selves.

But her res­o­lu­tion ended up go­ing one fur­ther than that. Af­ter be­ing frus­trated that there wasn’t a plas­tic-free shop in Ch­ester Debbie opened Just Foot­prints in De­cem­ber last year, selling re­fill­able store-cup­board goods like pulses and beans and herbs and spices, as well as house­hold es­sen­tials ( just­foot­printsches­ter. co.uk). The re­cep­tion has been wild. ‘There are a lot of peo­ple who care about this is­sue and

“Switch­ing back from plas­tic to glass bottles may feel like you’re mak­ing an in­signif­i­cant rip­ple in a oceanic sized is­sue”

we’ve found that if you make it eas­ier and more ac­ces­si­ble for peo­ple to make the changes, they’ll do it,’ Debbie says. ‘So many peo­ple re­mem­ber buy­ing food and dried goods like this years ago.’

Sim­i­larly, sis­ters Sarah Mul­downey, 27, and Claire, 29, started their stall, Echo at Al­trin­cham mar­ket, which sells pack­age free foods and house­hold items, af­ter re­turn­ing to the county from liv­ing in Aus­tralia and Asia re­spec­tively, where they were in­spired to live more en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly lives. As in­ter­est in their mar­ket stall has grown, they are also tri­alling a de­liv­ery ser­vice in Al­trin­cham, Hale and Bow­don (for de­tails, mes­sage them on face­book.com/ echozero).

Ge­or­gia Roberts, who lives in War­ring­ton and runs the on­line shop Sus­tain­able Liv­ing de­cided in April to take her ini­tia­tive one step fur­ther and start an event where lo­cal plas­tic-free and en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious re­tail­ers could band to­gether to show the pub­lic what was avail­able. The first Sus­tain­able Liv­ing event in Cheshire, which had a va­ri­ety of stalls, talks and work­shops through­out the day on the theme of eco liv­ing, was such a suc­cess she’s or­gan­is­ing a sec­ond for June 22 (10am4pm, War­ring­ton Mar­ket; for more de­tails email info@sus­tain­able­liv­ing.co.uk). ‘Peo­ple are be­com­ing aware about mak­ing plan­et­friendly choices, but it can be over­whelm­ing some­times to know where to be­gin or how to start so I wanted to help peo­ple start or con­tinue on their jour­ney,’ she says. (sus­tain­able­liv­ing.co.uk).

There are other groups do­ing their bit, too. Such as the cam­paign­ing group Plas­tic Free Wilm­slow. ‘Ev­ery­one is see­ing the mess we are mak­ing of the world and some of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions from plas­tic that we never guessed,’ An­drew Back­house, chair of the group says. The group re­cently staged an event at Waitrose on Chapel Lane to high­light un­nec­es­sary plas­tic pack­ag­ing. He says there was a huge ground swell of sup­port. ‘Now Waitrose en­cour­ages peo­ple to bring their own con­tain­ers to the fish and meat counter, just as the butch­ers and fish­mon­gers on Chapel Lane have done for a long time.’ It can feel over­whelm­ing when you try to make such a fun­da­men­tal change in your own life. Even Debbie freely ad­mits that while liv­ing with­out any dis­pos­able waste is her goal, she’s not there yet. ‘Some­times it’s im­pos­si­ble and you have no op­tion but to have some­thing that’s in plas­tic. It’s about do­ing the best you can and not beat­ing your­self up about the things you can’t change. It’s bet­ter to make one or two small changes that you can sus­tain rather than try­ing to change ev­ery­thing at once, fail­ing and mak­ing no changes at all.’

“If you make it eas­ier for peo­ple to make changes they’ll do it”

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