Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week # 8: Bottles and Cans and Dogs

Our kids are teenagers - one in college and the other a high school senior, both living at home - so they know about this little experiment. My daughter saw me working on the blog last weekend and commented, "Oh, I didn't know you were actually still doing that." She hasn't noticed any change to her normal lifestyle, so she assumed I'd given up on the resolution, like many others before.

Now that I think about it, apart from coming up with a new idea each week and attending to the administrative details of this blog, nothing much has changed. Our quality of life is exactly the same. That is certainly an indication that we have subscribed to and spent money on things we could easily live without. After seven cuts of $100 or more, the one and only thing I truly have missed is the summary of games on TV in the Register sports section. Maybe we'll make it farther into the year than I thought before we have to get really creative.

Number eight is also not much of a sacrifice; just a little extra collection work.

Bottles and cans in California have a redemption value associated with them. We pay the grocery store a CRV (California Refund Value?) for each glass and aluminum container, usually a nickel.

When we finish with a bottle or can here at home, the container goes into recycling to be whisked away by Waste Management. I would be interested to know if they collect the bounty and add it to their bottom line. For a large company collecting millions of recyclables, that could be a significant boost to revenue. For a small household, it still offers an opportunity to save at least $100.

My employer actually has a program in place to collect recyclables. There are receptacles at every major employee entrance. Money collected from cashing in the bottles and cans helps to fund training and development of guide dogs for the blind. Occasionally, the trainers are colleagues who bring the puppies with them everywhere, including our office building. It gives the charity a very tangible feeling; we can see the results of the collected money in action.

The sign on the side of the container says they get a nickel for each bottle and can. Instead of tossing them in our recycle bin at home, I will bring our cans and bottles to work each time a batch of 20 (worth $1) is collected. Can we collect 2000 cans before the end of the year? I think so, but whether we do or not, I don't know why we wouldn't just keep doing this, so we'll get there eventually.

Even though this $100 is not staying in our pockets - and not adding to our savings directly - I'm counting it for credit toward the challenge because we're creating $100 in value for a charity we want to support, without having to write a check to do it. I was able to find 20 bottles and cans ready to be recycled this weekend, so it's $1 down, $99 to go! I'll update the tally at the end of each month, along with other strategies that require some tracking.

Bottle / Can value so far: $1

Total savings so far: $1,339.40


  1. You might want to try something different for this. I have a can crusher right outside the door leading to our garage. Every can gets crushed and put into a separate trash can. Our local recycling place pays over $2.00 per pound for CRV aluminum. That might net you more savings, for which you could write a check to the charity of your choice.

    On a side note, our principal has trained two dogs and another teacher has also trained a guide dog during the first year. It's great that you have as supportive of business to work for that encourages this. Our school library is called the "labrary" because we have two to three dogs in there three days a week.

  2. Excellent suggestion. It never occurred to me to "shop around" recyclables for a best offer. If I find something better, I'll post an update. Thanks!

  3. Check out for you list of sporting events on TV. :)