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How millennials are making an old-fashioned British tradition cool again


Brian Selson | CC BY 2.0

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/14/19

The "milkman" is back to solve a modern-day problem.

In recent years, the dangers of plastic to the environment have been in the news on a regular basis. And to respond to the problem, some people are willing to pay even higher prices for things if it means . In fact, in London, millennials are returning to old-fashioned solutions to fix a modern-day problem.

Just a few decades ago the streets of London, and every town and village in England, were busy in the early mornings with milkmen zipping around on their “milk floats” — electric vehicles with no sides — delivering fresh milk in glass bottles to households everywhere. The service went out of fashion, though, when milk packaging changed and milk could be freshly stored in supermarkets.

Now, in a bid to reduce plastic waste, millennials are willing to pay extra money to have their milk delivered to their door. Local dairies are reporting a large demand by families wanting to use the service, with one dairy reporting an extra 382 new customers so far this year, according to The Evening Standard, which equates to an additional 1,800 glass bottles of milk being delivered each week.

Manager of Parker Dairies Paul Lough says the customer base has changed to include a younger clientele, a phenomenon experienced by another dairy called milk&more, which has seen an impressive 2,500 customers requesting milk in the iconic glass bottles. (The empty bottles are picked up the following day by the milkman when he delivers fresh milk.)

Although the rise in the glass bottles is promising, there is an unexpected benefit to the return of this tradition. The milkman — although these days there are likely to be milkwomen too — are an integral part of the community. Their presence is known by the familiar clanking of bottles, often accompanied by a hello or a wave, and even a cup of tea if it’s the end of their round. Like postal workers, they’re often the only people the elderly come across in their day, bringing a little comfort to those more vulnerable members of society.

Even though the service is slightly more expensive, the benefits to the environment, the community, and to local dairy producers is worth every cent, or should we say, penny?

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