Who will take our bottles?
April 6, 2007 1:44 PM   Subscribe

How to find someone who wants our returnable bottles?

We have about a dozen garbage bags full of empy pop bottles/cans (worth 10 cents each). Mr. Adams and I don't have the time to haul them to the store and pump them into the return machines. We'd like to find a way of giving these returnables to someone who needs the cash. But we'd prefer that whomever wants the bottles could stop by and collect the sacks, rather than us delivering them. It would be nice if a charity like the Salvation Army or Goodwill would take them, but all told, despite the bulk of all the bags, the total amount would probably be only about $25, and I don't know if that's worth a major charity's trouble. I know a lot of homeless folks collect bottles and return them, and I'd love to see these bottles go to a good use such as that (even if someone uses the cash to buy a pack of cigarettes or whatever), but how to do it? If we leave them at the curb, I fear that the garbage truck will just toss them in with the rest of the trash.

Any suggestions on how to get these empties into someone's hands who needs them, without a ton of effort on our part?
posted by Oriole Adams to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
Once in a while the Boy Scouts or the Air Cadets have come by our place for recyclables, and once I was coming back to my car just as a homeless or street person was pushing his shopping cart by. I told him to stop, and offered all my cans and bottles. We emptied my trunk into his shopping cart. Made his day. Other than that, I got nothin'. I end up trying to remember to take them into the grocery store each trip, or stopping at the Bottle Depot, but you can take what seems like tons back, and the money isn't that great.
posted by Savannah at 1:52 PM on April 6, 2007

Don't undersell your assets -- I returned three garbage bags of cans at 5-cents-per last week and ended up with $22.

You might try calling your local recycling/waste management department. My city's recycling office has referrals for all sorts of recycling groups, and I expect they would know which charities would be willing to pick up.
posted by backupjesus at 1:57 PM on April 6, 2007

posted by b33j at 1:59 PM on April 6, 2007

Oh, and I kept track of how long it took to redeem those 440 cans, since I never think it's worth my time. It took 20 minutes at the machines [I was already at the grocery store], so $66/hour, or $132/hour in your case.
posted by backupjesus at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2007

Wait. At least around here, a group of kids will eventually come by doing a fundraising "bottle drive". The scouts, girl guides, a soccer team, baseball team, etc - they all seem to use this technique to obtain funds for trips, tournaments, etc. Much more likely to happen now that the weather's getting better, as well.

Or, post a message on craigslist in the free section. Leave the bottles in an alley or whatever. They'll be gone before you know it. I guess that means whoever takes them has internet access (which probably eliminates the pople who really could use the cash...) I guess with that in mind you could also go old school, and put a flyer up instead.
posted by cgg at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: Craigslist is a good idea, thanks.

We're in Birmingham, Michigan, if that's any help. A big problem with our locale is we're not allowed to put things on the curb prior to trash collection day.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:06 PM on April 6, 2007

Seconding freecycle
posted by Laura in Canada at 2:08 PM on April 6, 2007

Where I used to live, you could always find someone hanging out at the local bottle return who would come pick up your bottles if you told them when and where. Assuming the pick-up location was within walking distance of the bottle return.
posted by slowfasthazel at 2:30 PM on April 6, 2007

If the bottles are already bagged, just take them to the store and leave them next to the bottle machines. Someone will grab them.
posted by Marky at 2:36 PM on April 6, 2007

In my experience, people raid the dumpster areas of larger apartment complexes to collect cans / bottles. Leave them there and they'll disappear.
posted by smackfu at 2:37 PM on April 6, 2007

Habitat for Humanity take them where I live. You might try them, or any nonprofits that advertise that they want your used car.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2007

Seconding Craigslist and Thirding Freecycle.
posted by mds35 at 4:05 PM on April 6, 2007

What smackfu said, and then some. The last place I lived, people would walk up when I was out on my front porch and ask if I had any cans or bottles they could take to sell to the recycling place. These were, typically, low-income vets supplementing their disability pay. The homeless guys went directly into the apartment dumpster next door.

From what I've witnessed, place them next to or behind -- not in -- the apartment dumpster. Waste Management or BMI ignores it, and eventually the homeless take it.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:47 PM on April 6, 2007

Check the classified ads. There's a down-on-his-luck type of guy here that puts an ad in the free papers asking for any cans or bottles he can sell/recycle for cash.
posted by ducktape at 8:03 AM on April 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the excellent suggestions, folks! Looking forward to getting some floor space back after getting rid of these bags.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2007

"two days after my post, we found a flyer attached to our doorknob."
posted by Oriole Adams to MetaFilter-related at 12:11 PM
posted by crysflame at 1:20 AM on May 26, 2007

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