Where can I find empty 2 liter bottles?
January 6, 2008 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I am an 8th grade science teacher in New York State interested in doing an "ecosystem in a bottle" experiment very soon. I'm looking for ideas on where I can get empty 2 liter bottles, quickly and cheaply. I tried the local supermarket, but they wouldn't let me buy the returns. Any ideas?
posted by mikeweeney to Food & Drink (25 answers total)
Why not ask each student to bring one in?
posted by Coffeemate at 4:57 PM on January 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Post to freecycle or craigslist.
posted by zippy at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I imagine the turnaround time for that kind of request could take as long as a week. I'd like to start in a day or two.
posted by mikeweeney at 5:02 PM on January 6, 2008

Call your local Coca-Cola or other soft drink bottler?
posted by grouse at 5:04 PM on January 6, 2008

Buy the cheap-as-possible store-brand cola and just dump it out? Probably around a dollar a bottle I'd think.
posted by mrbill at 5:06 PM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are there public recycling bins? I mention this because where I live we have large public recycling bins where you can just drop off your glass and assorted plastic bottles. I always take my two liter bottles to one of those drop offs and there are always tons of bottles. (We have access to these bins at places like grocery store parking lots, some school lots, some parks, and other big box store locations.)

You might also try calling your local recycling plant.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:14 PM on January 6, 2008

Ask here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RochesterNYReUseIt/

It's the local Rochester NY free cycle group. It seems really active.
posted by voidcontext at 5:24 PM on January 6, 2008

Oops. Rochester NY ReUseIt, that is a linkified version of the above address. You just need a Yahoo ID to sign up and send a message.
posted by voidcontext at 5:25 PM on January 6, 2008

Post something on Craigslist while you try to figure out another solution. You might get lucky there.
Ask your neighbors if they have any.
posted by HotPatatta at 5:28 PM on January 6, 2008

Our middle school would often offer a few points of extra credit for students who brought in needed supplies (maybe a max of 2-3 per student depending on how many kids you think will follow through). Unless you think that would be an financial problem or you have a school policy forbidding it that might be the simplest.
posted by metahawk at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2008

Glass or plastic? Look for food packaging sites.
posted by Corky at 5:30 PM on January 6, 2008

How many do you need? Are we talking one per student for 6 classes worth of kids?
posted by voidcontext at 5:35 PM on January 6, 2008

I did a project with 7th graders making soda bottle rockets. Each student was required to bring one in as part of the project. I allowed about a two or three day lag. Hinge part of their grade on it. Harp on them at the start of class tomorrow and at then end until Wednesday. In the meantime, seltzer is cheap (60-80 cents/bottle). Buy 10% of your class headcount and start drinking heavily. Give them to the slackers and ding them some points so that they can't get an A+.
posted by plinth at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2008

Try other supermarkets, too.
posted by limon at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2008

Contact your local solid waste authority. Explain it to them. Dollars to donuts says they'll contact someone at a recyclers for you....or depending your town, it might be them.
posted by TomMelee at 5:46 PM on January 6, 2008

Why would a supermarket have empty soda bottles? They sell full bottles to consumers for home consumption.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:16 PM on January 6, 2008

HotPatatta, supermarkets are often return points for empties, especially in NY where there's a deposit on bottles. Problem is, most places use automated collection machines that crush the bottles to save space.
posted by pupdog at 6:24 PM on January 6, 2008

Assuming the good ideas from above don't suit you, you may have luck asking people who stop by the supermarket to drop off their empties to give them (or sell them for 5 cents) to you. If they know why you're collecting bottles, they'll almost certainly be happy to help.
posted by i love cheese at 6:33 PM on January 6, 2008

Go dumpster diving at your recycling center, or be real and wait for your students to bring them in. Your failure to plan should not penalize your students.
posted by caddis at 6:48 PM on January 6, 2008

Since 2L bottles are used almost solely for home consumption (I can't think of any restaurant that uses them), I'm not sure where you'd go to get empties besides people's houses and recycling centers. The only other thing that comes to mind would be caterers or banquet facilities, which serve large groups of people but might not have "taps" for bulk soda. You might try asking them ... but 2-3 days doesn't seem like nearly enough. With a few weeks lead time you could probably have 1,000 (or more) bottles, but that doesn't mean that you can get 100 in 1/10th the time.

I really suspect your best bet is going to be Craigslist or Freecycle and just hoping that somebody out there is a pack rat and has a garage full of bottles that they're procrastinating taking tothe store. (Lord knows at some times I've had probably over 100 in mine, when I lived in a deposit-bottle state.) Maybe you'll get lucky.

If that doesn't pan out, I'd think of some reward incentive to get the students to bring them in -- extra credit or some sort of bonus must be available, or get creative somehow -- yeah, they'll be some students whose families don't drink soda and won't be able to bring any, but for each of them they'll be two kids who drink tons of the stuff and can bring dozens if properly motivated. I guarantee that, on average, there are lots of those bottles per family sitting around.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 PM on January 6, 2008

This is the sort of thing they would have asked us to bring from home when I was that age. It's not exactly a lot to ask for a parent to go out and buy a bottle of pop, if they don't buy it already. Chances are you might have to pick one up for a kid or two, but what's a couple of bucks? Having them collect the bottles themselves also gives more of a sense of Reduction, REUSE and Recycling. Never a bad lesson.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:59 AM on January 7, 2008

What was the size of the store you asked? I'd think a smaller mom & pop would be more likely to go for it.
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2008

If you dumpster dive for them, wear gloves and give each bottle at least a cursory inspection. I'm a home wine maker, and I get many of my bottles out of my neighbors' recycling bins. I've found bottles filled with needles (I presume from a diabetic's home, but that's just a guess).
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2008

Put a note up in the teacher's room.
posted by history is a weapon at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2008

When we made terrariums at my primary school (er, over twenty years ago), our teacher asked us to each bring an empty 2L plastic bottle from home.
posted by hot soup girl at 11:48 AM on January 7, 2008

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