Bottle Bill -- Back to the Future

In the beginning...                                                                                                    (Last updated Jan 6,2015)

Once upon a time, 'bout half a century ago or so -- which most of you may not now be old enough to remember -- the 10-cent Coke came in  the perfect icon symbol of that bygone era, -- which might be well to revisit -- the iconic "expensive" 6.5 ounce smoke blue-gray almost indestructible leaded-glass returnable (leaded glass like fine crystal?) Coke bottle with a 2-cent bottler-required deposit

There was
no
need for a "Bottle Bill."  Glass bottles were expensive; (all resources were sparse and expensive); and even beer came in returnable bottles, usually purchased, like Coke, picked up and returned in a  24-bottle wooden crate.  "We" had just experienced the WWII years when everything was scarce or rationed and people saved, reused or recycled everything.  (Even many, if not most, sewage treatment plants "saved" or recovered methane gas from you know what!)  we had not yet entered the "Throw-Away no-deposit-no-return Culture."

There were no plastic bottles. There weren't many more
than half a dozen
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other national soft drink manufacturing companies -- (Then as now Pepsi tasted better, but Coke advertised more.  My favorite soft drink was the non-carbonated orange drink, TrueAid, now long gone, but A&W Root Beer and 7 Up are still around, as well as Pepsi). but there were many breweries -- (happily  micro-breweries are making comebacks with taprooms and fine dining?).  we could purchase beverages at the local neighborhood pub in an ice cold mug "on tap," where we could also purchase  the returnable 24-bottle case, as well as a 6-pack or double 6-packs in bottles.

Soda drinks, of course were purchased and enjoyed at the "Drug Store" soda fountain, also consumed from either mug, a fancy reusable etched attractive glass or, god forbid, in paper cups of various sizes.
-- (Styrofoam had blessedly not yet been invented) --(All beverages  somehow seemed to taste better in iced mugs or glass at the fountain on tap compared with any bottle, whether soda or beer!  Ask any (non-English) beer drinker, s/he will tell you it still tastes better that way)! In fact, during WWII there were not even aluminum cans for any drinks, soft or other wise; all aluminum was vitally needed for making airplanes!  And there was almost no trash in our street and alleys, sidewalk or yards either; or along our roadsides since all scrap and paper was recycled too!

Even long after WWII, there was no need for a "Bottle Bill" -- because soft drink and beer delivery trucks picked up the old returnable bottles in their bottler-supplied ($5 deposit) wooden 24-bottle crates as they delivered the newly refilled bottles in those same heavy wooden crates, (exchanged free like propane tanks today).  The 10-ounce, and later the 12-ounce Coke, in the smoke blue-gray leaded glass bottle is perhaps the best icon for that age, (just as Andy Warhal's
Campbell's
soup can
poster of a throwaway "tin can" is a good icon of the "progress" which followed a generation or two later).

With "progress" first came the arrival of the "No-deposit no-return bottle", soon followed by the "tin" can, the aluminum can and eventually the plastic "bottle".  Up until then there were almost no trashed bottles or cans on the streets, alleyways, or yards of our neighborhoods.  (And incidentally, there were also almost no candy  wrappers littering our streets, sidewalks and yards either.  (Candy was usually dispensed from a large cardboard box from behind the counter  But that's a different story, the solution of which is discussed elsewhere).  For half a dozen or more good reasons:

  1. There were far few candies and "junk food" and fewer yet were wrapped in paper at those old fashion "candy stores."
  2. Children and adults were more "civic minded" and did not trash their own neighborhoods, nor other people's either.
  3. People in the neighborhoods knew each other -- and who the outsiders were -- keeping and eye on everybody,
  4. If the say, for an example, a kid doing something wrong -- like littering, some mother was out the door with a stick in one hand, and soon the kid's ear in the other, castigating him/her by name, hauling to their mother for a second immediate drubbing,
  5. A third biblical -- "spare the rod and spoil the child" -- parent discipline was usually administered again in the evening.
  6. What bottles, glass, metal -- and sometime paper, was often scavenged by little kids who work for, therefore knew the value of money, if only in the "coinage" of candy!
  7. Neither adults nor children were overweight.  Not fat nor morbidly obese.  People walked, worked and exercised!
My, how times have changed...  Not necessarily for the better.

Today, our streets and alleys, sidewalks and yards, bushes and roads are laden with all kinds of litter, most notably and objectionably, whole, crushed and flattened, broken glass, cans and plastic bottles, as well as paper goods litter, especially junk food and candy wrappers tossed there not only be kids thoughtlessly and maliciously, but uncaring and unthinking adults as well, (all too often our church yard even have1-quart motor containers "deposited" there by neighbors, occasionally even auto parts).

When this "trash" finally reaches our increasingly costly landfills it cost our already overburdened taxpayers $[] per person a year, and rising.  Yet almost half of this "burial" expense in completely unnecessary, -- because it is recyclable.