Reinventing the Milk (Wo)Man for Waste-Free Groceries

Have you ever heard of the milk man? Yes, that man driving around villages and delivering the fresh milk in front of your doorstep early in the mornings? Curious about the type of containers he delivered the milk in? You guessed it: Glass bottles. It seemed to work well, so now many companies are rediscovering and improving the concept with the technologies that have evolved over the years. But let's explore the origins of this profession, shall we?

The Origins of the Milk (Wo)Man

Milkmen appeared in Britain around 1860 when the first railroads allowed fresh milk to arrive in cities from the countryside and a lack of good fridges meant milk would quickly spoil. Before milk bottles were available in 1880, milk men took big containers on their rounds and filled the customers' jugs by dipping a measure into the jugs.

Better fridges in homes and improved packaging have decreased the need for frequent milk delivery over the past half-century and made the trade shrink in many localities sometimes to just three days a week and disappear totally in others. 

How it's different than before

By 1975, 94% of milk was in glass bottles, but by 1990 supermarkets offered plastic and carton containers, reducing bottled milk to 3% by 2016 in Europe (and increasing plastic and carton waste, of course). Some U.S. dairies have been delivering milk for about a hundred years, with interest continuing to increase in the 2010s as part of the local food movement.

Yes, it seems like the milk (wo)man might be coming back. Isn't that exciting?

How are we 'reinventing' the milk (wo)man?

Ok, maybe we're not completely 'reinventing' the milk (wo)man. I guess we're taking the concept and adapting it to the 21st century: With better vehicles, more products, more efficient ordering systems, etc.

So, let's explore how we are delivering our products today - and please keep in mind that we only just started and know that we still have a long way to go. But as I said in another blog post, the important thing is that we're moving forward.

Step 1: You order some products through our website. We receive your order and prepare the necessary (reusable) containers for it. These are currently glass jars and a wooden box to hold everything together.

Step 2: We visit our partner stores, fill up the glass jars and put them in the wooden box, which will be delivered to you, at the date and time you requested (currently in 30 minute intervals).

Step 3: We drive to your home (currently in our car - I discussed why this can be more or less sustainable than you doing your groceries in this blog post) and either give the box directly to you or leave it in front of your door.

How it will look in the future

As you might have realised, we haven't been able to reinvent that much yet. We're still driving a polluting car (although way more sustainable than 100 years ago). We currently only deliver in one type of container (although we deliver more than one product). And there's many more arguments that anyone could use to say "This is not perfect and you should stop it right now."

But we won't. Nothing worth doing ever comes easy, and ever starts out perfect. Rome wasn't built in a day they say, don't they? Have some patience, and join us in our excitement about the future!

In the future we will...

  • Drive sustainable vehicles to deliver our products
  • Calculate the delivery routes to be super time and resource efficient
  • Deliver all the products you might need and think of
  • Make ordering products you regularly need a thing of the past
  • Transparently show you where your money goes
  • Show you the environmental impact of every purchase
  • Show you where each product comes from
  • ...

We're so excited, because we truly believe that with the help of technology we can make sustainable, zero waste shopping extremely convenient and better than your shopping experience today. Buying packaging-free will become the standard way of shopping, we truly believe that.

All we need to reinvent the milk (wo)man is time, and your support!

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1 comment

  • Nadine

    I remember the milkman that came so see my grandma and I loved it! Would be so cool to re invent a milk wo( man) 👍👍👍👍. I would order right away

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