Yogurt - it’s good for you. It’s good for the kids (as long as you don’t buy overly sugared, chemically dyed stuff). Problem is a lot of plastic waste is left when you’re done. Many people make their own yogurt to avoid the plastic waste. That’s great. But I’m not one of them. I do buy my yogurt at the store.
Yogurt containers are one of those items that are technically recyclable, but finding where to recycle them is often difficult. If you look on the bottom of most yogurt containers, you'll see that there is a #5 inside the recycling symbol.
Based on current knowledge, polypropylene is one of the safer plastics. It is not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting the hormones, and it's not made with chlorine and so doesn't produce dioxin when it's made or incinerated. One of the main problems with giving any plastic a blanket "safe" recommendation is that not enough health and safety research has been conducted on chemicals that leach.
Most residential curbside recycling programs don't accept #5 plastics. The majority of them only accept #'s 1 & 2. So while technically #5 is recyclable, finding a place that will accept plastics made from it for recycling is very difficult.
So what can you do with your yogurt containers and other #5 food containers? Here are some options to reuse them at least once before they hit the waste stream.
1. Drinking cups - One creative mom at tipnut.com washes the yogurt cups with lids, cuts an X in the lid and uses them as disposable drinking cups with straws.
When it’s very hot out and I’m taking the kids to the park, I take a stack of clean yogurt cups and a big jug of ice water so they have water for themselves and extra cups to share with other kids.
2. Paint cups - When the boys and I do some painting, I use the washed out yogurt cups to hold the paint and as cups for the water for the brushes. I used to buy plastic cups for this, but now I don’t need to.
3. Containers to start seedlings - We started all of our seedlings for our garden last year in yogurt cups. We poked holes with a small screwdriver in the bottom, filled them with organic soil, and planted our tomatoes and herbs in them.
4. Snack cups - Yogurt containers make great snack cups for goldfish, pretzels or dry cereal.
5. Candle molds - Soy candle kits can be purchased at craft stores, and you can make your own candles using the cups as molds. Hint: If you buy uncolored candle wax, you can melt crayon pieces and ad it to the wax to give the candles color.
There are probably dozens of other craft type projects you can do with yogurt containers. I don’t do a lot of crafts for the sole purpose of recycling an item because eventually the craft projects end up in the trash, too, or I’d be up to my knee caps in crafts.
What do else can you do with yogurt cups?