Milk Bags. Who Knew?


So I've written about boxed wine before, as well as the amazing environmental benefits its streamlined packaging confers. According to the New York Times, switching the 97 percent of wines meant to be consumed in less than a year from bottles to boxes would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons.

Turns out my knowledge of boxed (and internally bagged) beverages was extremely limited. A recent viral video on YouTube and an accompanying piece in Salon have exploded the realm for me, throwing milk into the mix, as well as Chinese beer.

The video is straightforward enough: It records Sheryl Ng, who's similarly awestruck by the U.S. milk jug system, as she demonstrates proper bagged milk handling. Several small packages come in a group marked by an expiration tab. When you're ready to pour yourself a tall one, you simply plop a single bag in a special milk pitcher, snip the corner and decant into your glass. No awkward transfers necessary, and a 75 percent reduction in packaging from bottles. Ng even states that the bags are recyclable -- you just have to rinse them out.

According to Thomas Rogers' Salon piece, though, this really isn't as radical of an idea as American YouTube watchers would make it out to be. Canada has used the bags since the 1960s; India, South Africa, China, Poland and other European countries all have the bagged milk option. Even England's Sainsbury's chain will be converting to the bags in the future, after spending the last two years testing them.

Who has used bagged milk, and what do you think? I for one still kind of romanticize the idea of milk in glass jars, switched out with the regularity of a newspaper subscription. But since my reality is a gallon jug -- and there's nothing particularly endearing about those first few unwieldy pours -- I think I could get behind the bagged option.

Thanks to SYMHC's Katie for suggesting this one!