Is Returning Your Bottles Really Worth the Hassle?

| May 5, 2014 | 42 Comments

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Is returning your bottles really worth the hassle? Short answer – yes, it’s totally worth it. Long answer – it’s only worth it if you have a place to store your bottles for about 6 months and own a car. You see, when I was living in Vancouver, I never returned any of my bottles. I didn’t have a car for two of those years, I never had any space inside any of my tiny apartment suites to store them, and it always seemed like a huge hassle. My weekends and weekday nights were precious to me, and the last thing I wanted to spend a few hours doing was organizing all of my liquor bottles and returning them to some depot. What I did instead, and it’s something a lot of other Vancouverites do by the way, is I would leave all my bottles outside near the giant recycling bin and they would magically disappear the next day. Well, maybe not magically, but it was a lot easier to leave them out to be collected by someone else than to return them for a few bucks myself.

This isn’t an option in Toronto. Maybe it was just a Vancouver thing, but here no one just leaves there bottles outside for anyone to come and take. So, we were forced to hold onto all of our bottles, store them out on our balcony, and return them ourselves. We thought we’d do this every few months, but to be honest we started collecting them in September and didn’t get around to returning them until this past weekend. 8 months of bottles is a lot of bottles people!

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Since I’m still in full-on spring cleaning more, we finally got around to transporting every last bottle to The Beer Store, and we ended getting $20 back! Considering most bottles (or cans) only give you 10 cents back, that just goes to show how many bottles we were hoarding all winter.

What did we end up doing with that $20 you ask? Instead of blowing it on $20 worth of Cinnabon like my HB wanted to, we used it to buy a shoe rack and a few other household items we desperately needed. Not exactly exciting, but if we hadn’t saved all those bottles, that money would’ve come out of our own pockets. And yes, we could have saved way more than $20 if we just drank less wine and beer, but if you’ve ever experienced a winter in Toronto, you’ll understand how that’s just not an option.

Do you return all of your bottles? How much is the most you’ve ever gotten back?

Category: Mo' Money, Saving Money & Budgeting

Comments (42)

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  1. Brian says:

    The hassle factor is just too high. We live in the burbs, so all we have to do is take them to the curb and they disappear. Nice and easy, and you (and your car) don’t end up smelling like beer.

    In RI it’s only 0.05 per can to return, and there is no sure charge up front. Now, if they upped it to 0.25/can, we would make the trip.

    That 0.05 has been on the books for decades. It’s time to change that.

    Long term brian

  2. I never return bottles. I just don’t have time for it. I do recycle though!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Keeping Up With the Joneses: Our Frugal Yard RemodelMy Profile

  3. I always return bottles. I paid that deposit when I bought the damn bottle!!! It’s my money.
    save. spend. splurge. recently posted…April 2014: What I bought, watched and readMy Profile

  4. Rob says:

    Our church has a bottle / pop can drop-off collection once a month with the proceeds going to fund the cost of purchasing wheelchairs for the poor. So it’s a win-win solution all around. I’ll pray for youse guys! :-)

  5. Shanondoah says:

    I always return my bottles, I have a pretty big collection going now. I think the most I’ve ever gotten back is about $4-$5, it probably went to more beer :)
    Shanondoah recently posted…my guest post: schoolhouse boozeMy Profile

  6. Charlotte says:

    Girl, I hear you about Toronto winters! This was one for the books.
    I always return my bottles but then again, there’s a beer store about 3 blocks away so it’s no hassle. We host pre drinks quite regularly so there would be way too many bottles kicking around our condo to hold onto them for weeks/months at a time. We keep the return amount in a little jar and treat ourselves to dinner & drinks whenever there’s enough!
    Charlotte recently posted…The most relaxing part of my dayMy Profile

  7. Bridget says:

    I don’t return my bottles — I totally leave them next to my building’s dumpster for someone else to pick them up (and because Calgary seems to have an infinite homeless population, they always get scooped up fast!)

    $20 is not worth the hassle for me but it doesn’t seem too bad for you! Everyone needs a shoe rack so why not a free one ;)
    Bridget recently posted…Why You Can’t Trust Your Favorite Personal Finance BloggerMy Profile

    • It wasn’t too much hassle this time since we just left them on our balcony all winter, then it only took a few hours to collect/return them. And I do really love our shoe rack now haha.

  8. Kassandra says:

    I don’t collect the cans/bottles to return them but at least we recycle. Your HB didn’t get one cinnabon out of the $20 lol!

  9. We haven’t returned our bottles because there is an older gentleman in the neighborhood who comes around to collect them. I guess he enjoys doing it so we make it easy and leave them out on the curb for him. There are also centers in the area that take them and use them to raise money for certain projects.
    Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…Weeding Out Those ExpensesMy Profile

  10. We used to return them when we had a porch and a basement – there was lots of room for bottles and then one trip would make a really good haul. Now we just put them out to the street with regular recycling and they’re never there in the morning when the trucks come around. It isn’t worth the hassle and clutter to accumulate them, and it’s not worth multiple $1 trips.
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted…Financial Update – April 2014.My Profile

  11. Bobby says:

    Where I grew up (Africa) empty bottles, or empties as we called it, was a very desirable commodity when I was young. We would hassle all the grown ups to give us the empties the had around the house and then went to buy sweets.

    Later on when we became older we used to keep all the empty bottles, as homeless people came around to collect them. It was not much, but they got enough money from that to buy some food for a day or 2.
    Bobby recently posted…4 Incredible Inspiring Stories of People Who Came from Nothing and SucceededMy Profile

  12. I’ve given up soda and beer so we don’t really have many bottles to return anymore. I do make sure to recycle them though.
    Connie @ Savvy With Saving recently posted…The Great Makeup Debate: Drugstore Or High-End?My Profile

  13. Just before reading the last line I was going to ask you to save money by drinking less. But thank God you answered by question in the last sentence. $20 also matters and utilizing that money to buy something important is worth it. Loved the blog post thoroughly.
    Fionna Merciollis recently posted…Learn to Improve Your Credit Score FastMy Profile

  14. We recently gave up bothering to take in our empties ourselves. We set them next to the recycling area in our building and people, or the person with the contract to take away our recycling, take them. Most of the time it was $4 or so and coordinating our schedules with when the depot was open was just too much of a pain for us, plus it pisses me off when they build up in the corner!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted…Gift Ideas for Friends Who are MovingMy Profile

  15. Sometimes I return our bottles and sometimes don’t. We usually put our empty bottles in our backyard and some children asked for it because they would sell it to the junk shop.
    Marie @724 Credit recently posted…Using Your Credit Card ResponsiblyMy Profile

  16. Sure sounds like a lot of hassle and I am not surprised that it took you 8 months. Luckily from where I am, there are people who collect bottles from homes and they pay for them. This they do on a weekly basis.
    Jen @Sprout Wealth recently posted…3 Times it’s Ok to Make Less Than You are WorthMy Profile

  17. We don’t have many bottles and we live in a small apartment so it’s not worth it for us. We do recycle though and there’s some lady who comes to take those bottles and recycles them for the money. I did get over $20 back in recycling bottles back in college when we lived in a house…let’s just say there were a good amount of beer bottles and soda cans!
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Are You Suffering From Technology Overload?My Profile

  18. When I was going to school in New Brunswick I felt so cheated at the taxes and levies applied to each and every individual can or bottle that I wanted to get as much back as possible. Yeah, I often walked away with $20 or less when I went but for me it was more principle.
    Scott @ Youthful Investor recently posted…5 Great Books to Learning ForexMy Profile

  19. It could be a self-replenishing alcohol budget!
    femmefrugality recently posted…How to Make Your Own Place Cards with Word and PicMonkey—Or Just Use My Free TemplateMy Profile

  20. David says:

    I definitely return bottles, and even take of few from my friends on a weekly basis – for us, it’s totally worth it as I wind up making an extra $50- or so per month which helps me pay for small daily expenses like bus passes, milk or even another bottle of wine! Okay, most always another bottle of wine! Great post!
    David recently posted…One Cool Present Nobody Would Ever “Re-Gift”My Profile

  21. We tried returning our bottles once and I think we got maybe $9 for it. We ended up buying liquor at the nearest store so I suppose it was worth it for that time haha. Generally though, we just recycle or leave bottles out for them to magically disappear.
    Carlos @ TheFrugalWeds recently posted…Have a Healthy (and affordable) Mother’s Day!My Profile

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