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Collecting Cans: A Cost Benefit Analysis

Our latest blog comes from our newest hire, Intern Tavi, whose here to share his wisdom from life as a broke college student.

You wake up with a splitting headache, roll out of bed, walk out of your bedroom, and find that your place is a mess. Last night you could have had a party or just some buddies over for a couple beers, but it either way it appears that some unwanted guests have overstayed their welcome–empties. There are empty cans and bottles everywhere. You throw back some Advil and reach to grab a trash can and start your morning’s work, but wait!

You see a mess. I see the chance to make dozens of dollars.

As a broke college student, the idea of collecting the cents per can and bottle from recycling centers has crossed my mind more than once. The hours of cleaning up my dirty house after parties–paired with my schemy approach to earning somewhat cheap booze–has made me consider: what are the pros and cons of returning empty cans?

The Pros and Cons of Collecting Cans

Conrad Cutler has built an empire on recycling cans in New York City for  huge profits. But he's putting a dent in city revenue
King of Cans has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Pro: In the state of California, you can earn “5 cents for containers less than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for containers 24 ounces or larger.”

For the standard rack of 30 beers, you are looking at saving a whopping $1.50 on each 30 rack, bringing a standard cost of 30 beers to less than $20. But let’s say you find some larger bottles–a few fifths or a 40oz. or two? You’re looking at 10 cents for those suckers. That’s free money!

Con: Immediately, you will question the amount of work that you are dedicating to collecting cans.

The task isn’t exactly labor intensive, but it’s no fun either and you will quickly reevaluate your true commitment to being an extreme cheapskate. The countless half finished beers you mistake as empties that you subsequently spill all over yourself will certainly make you question your commitment.

Pro: You get to tidy up your place while making a quick buck.

I mean what else are you going to do with these miscellaneous cans? You’ve collected them while cleaning up, you might as well hold on to them…two birds with one stone.

Con: The cost of transporting the cans to a recycling center.

How will you get hundreds of cans from your place to a recycling center? Do you know where the nearest recycling center is? No, of course not. Nobody knows where their local recycling center is. Whatsmore, the cost of trash bags that you need to buy in order to transport the cans almost outweighs the cost of the cans themselves. That cost on top of gas money to drive to this mystery recycling center location…

Pro: The sense of fulfillment that you earned with true–

You know what? Nevermind. In all honesty, collecting cans really isn’t worth it. In terms of cost and time commitment, you are better off doing almost anything else. $1.50 per 30 cans? Nope. Stop being lazy and look for a job so you can earn your beer money like the rest of Americans, with hard work.

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