How to Build a Home From Recycled Milk Jugs

How to Build a Home From Recycled Milk Jugs

How to Build a Home From Recycled Milk Jugs


Building a home from recycled materials like plastic milk jugs can be a fun and affordable way to reduce waste and build an eco-friendly home. With some planning and effort, milk jugs can be repurposed into walls, floors, furniture, and more. In this guide, I will walk through the entire process of constructing a home made from recycled milk jugs.

Gathering Materials

The first step is gathering enough recycled milk jugs to build your home. Here are some tips for accumulating materials:

  • Partner with local schools, churches, or community centers to set up a milk jug donation drive. Offer to pick up the jugs when the drive is over.

  • Contact local dairy farms or milk bottling facilities to ask if they will set aside their empty milk jugs for you rather than sending them to the landfill.

  • Check with grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses that use a lot of milk. Ask if they will save the empty plastic jugs for you.

  • Advertise on community boards and social media that you are collecting clean plastic milk jugs for a home building project.

  • Aim to gather at least 10,000 milk jugs. One standard milk jug holds about 1 gallon, so 10,000 jugs would equal about 10,000 gallons of plastic. This should be enough for walls, flooring, furniture and more in a small to mid-sized home.

Preparing the Milk Jugs

Once you’ve gathered the milk jugs, they need to be cleaned and prepared:

  • Rinse out any leftover milk residue and allow jugs to dry fully before the next steps.

  • Remove labels, lids, and anything else adhered to the jugs. You just want the bare plastic body.

  • Cut off the flat bottoms of the jugs so you have straight tubes of plastic.

  • Cut or slice the jugs into long 1-2 inch strips. The wider the strips, the more sturdy your materials will be.

  • Clean and dry the strips before moving on to construction.

Constructing the Walls

The plastic milk jug strips can be woven together to create rigid wall panels:

  • Build a simple wooden frame in the dimensions needed for each wall section.

  • Begin weaving the plastic strips through the frame in a grid pattern, securing the ends with staples.

  • Alternate the strip direction with each row like a woven basket to increase durability.

  • Fill any gaps by pressing in shredded milk jug pieces. This helps stiffen the panel.

  • Once a panel is fully woven and stuffed, secure the back with plywood or more milk jug plastic.

  • Make multiple rigid panels and connect them together with screws or bolts to build full walls for the home.

Building Furniture and Fixtures

The plastic milk jug material can also be used to construct furniture and fixtures:

  • Weave plastic strips into a square or rectangular frame to create tables, desks, benches, and shelving units.

  • For cabinetry, build a plywood box and cover the exterior in woven milk jug strips stapled to the wood.

  • Milk jug plastic can be molded and fused into sinks, tubs, and other plumbing fixtures. Use heat to soften and shape the plastic.

  • For countertops, melt down milk jug shreds to create a thick tile-like material that can cover plywood.

  • Use milk jug plastic strips for woven lamp shades, room dividers, curtains, and more decorative elements.

Flooring From Milk Jugs

Durable flooring can also be crafted from repurposed milk jugs:

  • Melt down clean milk jug plastic into a thick liquid and pour into molds to create interlocking floor tiles. Allow to fully harden before installation.

  • For in-floor radiant heating, lay tubing over plywood then cover with a milk jug plastic tile subfloor before adding finish flooring on top.

  • To make waterproof flooring, fuse together layers of shredded milk jug plastic using heat. Compress the fused shreds using a floor press.

  • For a softer floor, loosely weave together milk jug strips and secure to a plywood subfloor. Can be used for bedrooms.

  • Outdoors, a deck can be built using milk jug lumber. Fuse plastic strips around a core post to create deck boards.

Finishing Touches

Final details to complete your plastic jug home:

  • Use milk paint for walls. Mix powdered milk paint with water and lime to create eco-friendly paint.

  • Insulate walls with shredded and packed milk jugs for efficiency and soundproofing.

  • Install used windows and doors which are inexpensive and keep materials out of the landfill.

  • For outdoor siding, cut milk jugs into shingles and fuse together into panels using heat. Provides weather protection.

  • Add solar panels, rainwater collection and other green systems to maximize sustainability.

With clever repurposing, everyday milk jugs can be transformed into a comfortable and eco-friendly home. Let your creativity run wild to build and furnish your plastic bottle house!