Jan. 10 2012 08:57 AM

Decisions made at the farm and processing level make a difference.

When discussing going green, I am not referring to pasture-based dairies or profit. Rather, I'm looking at the processing side of producing and distributing milk. Recently, a friend mentioned she purchased milk in bags. An interesting concept, but I have always preferred to purchase my milk in a carton or jug. But, I finally decided to purchase this bagged milk.

The half-gallon bags are in milk crates in the dairy case. And just to the right of these is the same milk packaged in plastic jugs. The biggest difference I noticed was the price: $1.64 for the half-gallon bagged milk, and $2.09 for the plastic half-gallon jug. Same processor, same volume of milk, but nearly a 50 cent price swing!

But, how was I going to pour milk from a plastic bag? Plastic pitchers hung on a rack next to the dairy cooler for those who did not already have this reusable pitcher. Grab a free pitcher, toss the bag of milk in a plastic bag for easier transport, and I was set.

Milk in plastic bags

When I got home, I read the bag's details. Using the milk bag reduces the volume in landfills by 95 percent over other containers. There is also a reduction of 75% in package weight with the bags. So, while the bag may look a bit odd in my refrigerator, it is the same top quality milk, at a reduced price, and is environmentally-friendly. And, the company offers a 5 cent Milk Moola donation to local schools with each bag purchased.

If the producer and processor each make a commitment to reduce the environmental impact, then the dairy industry is doing its share to promote a greener, healthier planet.