Updated: Nov 3, 2022
If you are reading this, chances are you have some milk or juice cartons you'd like to give a second life to.
First off, THANK YOU for reaching out to us!
We've been shipping our soap bars in milk/juice cartons for the past 3 years and it was only possible because of all the contributions from the community like yourself. Cos there's no way we can drink so much milk or juice on our own.
WHAT KINDS OF CARTONS ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
Well, we'd love to give a second life to any cartons possible, but in all practicality, different sized cartons + different sized orders = plenty of time spent on configuring the best way to package the soaps and accessories safely and aesthetically (even though we know our packaging can be in no way labelled aesthetic).
So to make this practice "sustainable" for us to carry out time efficiently, we prefer
milk / juice tetrapaks that are:
(not aluminium lined....meaning the "insides" are white and CANNOT be silver)
1L (preferable) / 1.89L
Thoroughly rinsed and dried.
Top flap intact (not torn open)
HOW TO CLEAN THE CARTONS IF TOP FLAP IS NOT OPEN?
Very good question.
Cos we actually went back to the neighbour who was the first to help us collect the cartons and asked her HOW she managed to get every carton SO clean despite not opening up the top flap. Here are the tips she shared with us.
1. RINSE IMMEDIATELY AFTER USE
The longer empty cartons are left un-rinsed, the more definite the cartons will get stained, which is a no-no.
2. HAVE A GO AT BEING THAT COOL BARTENDER
Yes. Quarter-fill the cartons with water through the spout and give that carton a good vigorous shake and rinse! Make sure the water gets to every corner of the carton before you empty it. Give a peek (stain check) and sniff (smell check) and repeat as necessary.
3) EXERCISE THOSE ARM MUSCLES
Now it's time to practise HOW FAR you can fling the remaining water out of the carton. This step is necessary to help the carton dry completely.
Tap and shake till you can't feel any remaining water droplets.
Here's a best practice video kindly shared by our neighbour whose milk cartons are truly our GOLD standard.
4. GIVE IT A GOOD SUN-TAN
We don't recommend that you join in this sun tanning session but a few days of Vitamin D will be really beneficial to make sure the cartons dry completely.
WA, SO TOUGH AH?
We decided to outline these steps cos it's really not an easy task to clean the cartons thoroughly especially with the top flaps still closed. There were many times we had to trash a whole bag of cartons we collected because we were horrified at the sight when we cut the cartons open. Some of them were too gruesome so there's no pictures to save your appetite for the next meal.
More importantly, we know each and every one of our contributors have all the good intentions and went through a lot of effort to collect, clean, and transport the cartons, and it will pain them to know that their cartons were eventually trashed. So we hope to pass on every knowledge we've gathered to ensure the highest success rate for the cartons to be reused.
It seems we are asking for a lot, but in actual fact, we do need to do the same if we are intending to recycle the cartons to make sure the cartons do not contaminate other recyclables in the same bin.
What if you are really keen to give second lives to your cartons but not confident you can wash them well enough or do not have enough storage space to keep them whole until you have 20 to pass to us?
If you are good with using a penknife safely, and open to cut open the carton to wash and store, then here's a video of an alternative method.
Our first preference is still to receive the cartons whole so we can custom it to orders of different sizes. But if that's more difficult, we are equally grateful if. you pass us the clean and dried 6cm base + flattened middle section of the carton.
DO WE ACCEPT CARTONS ALL YEAR ROUND?
Yes and no.
To be honest, space is a huge constraint since the cartons cannot be flattened. While I push on with my cause, I have to manage other stakeholders at home so they don't freak out that we've turned into karang guni and decide to throw my entire treasure chest of cartons out.
Being a small business, there's a limit to the number of cartons we can "consume" as packaging especially since not all buyers can accept a milk carton packaging.
Besides using them for online orders, we use them at pop-up markets e.g. at Tzu Chi's Zero market every first and third weekend mornings (it's on hiatus right now until the restrictions are lifted so do check their FB page for updates) and even leave them at Toy Outpost where our soaps are on display at their Plaza Singapura and Vivo City outlets. These partners have been really open to support our cause and accepting the use of my milk cartons and we cannot be more grateful.
Almost every week or every other week, we receive messages from kind contributors across all platforms. But we am unable to accept every contribution due to different reasons - space, distance, time or types of cartons.
One of the most important consideration is also the carbon footprint incurred while this collection is done. Not just at our end, but also for the contributor. As we are in the North East, we will reject any contribution if the contributor is staying or working in other parts of Singapore.
The last thing we want to do is to incur a lot more unnecessary carbon footprint which defeats the purpose of us giving the cartons a second life.
CRITERIA FOR CARTON COLLECTION
** Types of cartons - Scroll up.
** Batch size for collection - 20 or more. (no need to batch 20 if you are bringing to our events (pls only come by if you are attending the market or live close by or it's on the way)
** Location - Drop off at any of our Pop Up Events or at our studio at Northstar@AMK Postal Code 569880 (by appointment only. Please DM us on IG as we are not at premise all the time)
If the location doesn't work out, we thank you with all our hearts but do try to find alternative channels for the cartons.
DO YOU LEAVE THE BOTTLE CAPS ON?
Yes please. Unless you have alternative use for them, please do pass them on to us.
We do not normally ship them out with the soaps so that the soaps get to still breathe within the cartons, but we batch these bottle caps and wait till we spot any organisation who can make good use of them. From the start till now, we've passed several batches of bottle caps to Playeum for reuse in their kids' activities and to The Plastic Project for them to recycle into coasters, carabiners and other functional items.
Here's the first lot of our bottle caps that went to Playeum. Every now and then they do need bottle caps, cardboard roll cores, clean plastic bottles, fabric, ribbons/yarns for their regular play program. But similar to us, they have storage limits so do check their pages to know when they open up for collections.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE CARTONS I RECEIVE WITH THE SOAPS?
1. HOUSE THE BARS UNTIL THEY ARE READY FOR USE
Yep. Keep the bars dry and dust-free inside these cartons until you are ready to use them. Don't wait until you forget about them though! Although the bars can literally last for years, we'd prefer that you use them within 6 months of purchase to best enjoy the natural scent and nourishing oils.
2. COLLECT WET TRASH
Once all the bars are out of the cartons, consider giving the cartons a 3rd life by using them (instead of plastic bags) to collect wet trash at your kitchen sink. You can use the milk cartons at home for this too! You're welcome. :)
3. SOAP DISH FOR KITCHEN DISH BAR
If you are using a soap bar for washing dishes, consider cutting to size the top of our milk carton packaging and using that as a soap dish for your kitchen bar.
The carton fits our aloe dish bar perfectly and might just fit what you are using!
The spout gives great drainage so the bar stays dry between use. Don't try this for your regular bath or face soap though cos they are much softer than the dish bar.
WHAT TO DO WITH MY CARTONS SINCE YOU CAN'T ACCEPT WHAT I'VE COLLECTED?
If you can't use them to collect wet trash at home, then consider bringing them to Ikea. We recently learnt from one of our contributors that Ikea's recycling station accepts tetrapak as one of the recyclable. Here's a picture she shared with us.
If you are still with us, THANK YOU for reading this far!
SO HOW EXACTLY DO WE PASS THE MILK CARTONS TO @mynakedbar?
Drop off at any of our Pop Up Events or at our studio at Northstar@AMK #08-78 (by appointment only.)
If all the criteria above are OK, then pls reach out to us via IG DM. We can coordinate to see the best way to meet up / drop off that will be the least carbon incurred for both of us. ;)
We are not able to give a second/third life to every single milk/juice cartons but with your help, we can all do more! Thank you for journeying with us.
HOW ELSE CAN WE HELP?
At this point, we know majority of you maybe disappointed cos you may be staying far from where we are or do not have the luxury of space to batch to 20 cartons before passing them to us.
We can totally understand cos likewise we are operating with resource and space constraints and doing our best to workaround those.
We are a small brand hoping to ripple out a bigger message for our planet. So if you have the heart and capacity to help us spread this cause, that itself would be a really big help.
If you meet someone who feels bar soaps are bad for skin, share this with them:
If you meet someone who is troubled by eczema, explored many skincare options but yet to find something that works for them, share these with them:
If you know of someone or an organisation looking for a sustainable gift (especially one who doesn't mind gifts in upcycled packaging), share this with them:
If you meet a fellow greenie who stays nearer and could contribute his/her milk cartons, share this current blog or this with them:
Or, simply BYO container when you dabao, buy bun, or BBT. And bring your reusables for grocery shopping. Any and every step can inspire one more person. Our voices may be small, but together we have impact.