Make Money with Container Deposits: Side Hustle for Teens

What do you know about container deposits?  If you’ve never heard of that term before, this information will excite you.

Some states have a container deposit.  This is extra money you pay for the item when you buy beverages in glass, plastic or glass bottles.  Normally, it’s about 5 or 10 cents per item.  It varies by state. This money can then be “redeemed” when the item is used up and returned to a recycling center or redemption center.

As of October 2010, 11 different states have a container deposit.  Those states are California, Connecticut Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont. If you live in one of those 11 states, this might be a perfect side hustle for you, especially if you are a teenager or kid.

My Experience

I grew up in small town Maine.  As a child and teenager, we would collect bottles and cans on the side of the road whenever we could.  We would also save up the bottles, cans and glass in our own homes.

We would try to fill up several garbage bags worth of cans and bottles. Once we had several bags of recyclables, we would visit one of the redemption centers in our town and exchange our bottles and cans for five cents each.

At five cents per item, it might not sound like a ton of money to an adult.  However, it can add up pretty quickly.  Find 100 bottles and get five cents each and you would have $5. Find 1,000 cans and redeem them at a nickel each and you would have $50 cash.

I remember one time I saved I bottles for a few months and cashed them in for a few hundred dollars.  I felt like I had just won the lottery.  I used the money to buy a new bike.  A few hundred dollars isn’t life changing for most adults, but as a kid, it makes you feel rich!

I also remember a fundraiser we did for our high school wrestling team.  About 20 of us worked really hard over the weekend collecting bottles on the side of the road and visiting people’s homes looking for donations of bottles.  We ended up raising close to $1000 that weekend for our wrestling team.  It was a lot of fun and definitely worth our time.

Why You Should Do This

Whether you are an adult or teenager, you should save up your bottles, glass and cans and redeem them for cash.  It’s just smart money.  It takes very little effort on your own, just a little discipline.

Listed below are a few simple things you can do to work smart and make even more money recycling soda cans, plastic bottles and glass for cash.

#1 Return other people’s recyclable items for them. Reach out to everyone you know and offer to take their bottles and cans to the redemption center for them, in exchange for a percentage of the cash. Most people are busy and would love to save the time to do something else.  If you could find 10-20 people to do this with, your commission could be pretty significant.

# 2 Ask people you know to save their bottles for you and let them know you will pick them up once a month.  Ask your close friends and family, especially grandma, if she will save her cans and bottles for you.  You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

# 3 Find a few busy roads where people litter lots of cans and bottles, and pick them up.  Of course, be safe, wear a reflector vest, and have adult supervision, so you don’t get hit by a car.

# 4 Make it fun and have a contest with a few of your close friends to see who can collect the most cans, bottles and plastics in a given month.  The competitive spirit will force you to come up with creative ways to win.

My final tip is to save the money you get from the container deposits and reinvest it into other side hustles.  Use the money to buy a used lawn mower, so you can mow yards.  Use the money to start a lemonade stand.  Use the money to buy items at yard sales and resell them on eBay. Or, put it in your savings account or pay off debt. Simply put, use your hard-earned cash for seed money and watch your income grow.

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts?  Did you grow up in one of these 11 states that have container deposits?  If so, did you collect bottles, cans and glass to recycle them for cash?  If you did, leave a comment below and tell us what your experience was like.  I look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

Charles Holmes is an author, blogger and entrepreneur.  He works from home with his wife, Rachel.  He lives in Homosassa, Florida and enjoys hunting, fishing, reading, and watching movies.