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Trash for Cash Bottle Drive Fundraiser

Learn how to turn trash into cash with a successful bottle drive or recycling fundraiser.  It’s a great way to do something positive for the environment too!

As people become increasingly aware of pollution and the environment, recycling fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular.  And why not!  It’s a great way to raise funds for your cause or organization, and also do something positive for the environment.  A bottle drive is a good choice because almost every US household consumes beverages in bottles or cans, and all you’re asking people for is their trash!

Getting Started

It’s a good idea to start promoting your bottle drive to group members about 1-2 months in advance.  Let members and/or parents know about the upcoming fundraiser, and ask them to please rinse and save all their empty cans and bottles.

Find a place where cans and bottles can be stored until the final fundraiser day, like a group member’s garage or place of business, or a space donated by your town, county or a local business.

If you have regular group meetings, have members bring their accumulated recyclables to each meeting.  This is a great way to start a little friendly competition between members as each strives to be the one with the largest contribution each time.  If you’re using prize incentives to motivate your group, be sure to keep a tally of who has contributed what.


It’s important to advertise your bottle drive to the community as well.  Start advertising no later than 2 weeks in advance, but no earlier than 1 month.  Create fundraising flyers that let people know where and when they can drop off recyclables, what types of recyclables you’re collecting, and whom they can contact for more information.

If you’re having one big drop-off day for everyone to bring in their treasured trash, be clear about the date, time and location.

Post your flyers around town in highly visible areas.  Ask your local newspaper and radio station to include your fundraiser in their community news (newspapers and radio stations often require advance notice, so look into this right from the start to be sure you get your announcement in on time), and send notices home with group members and/or parents, and ask them to distribute copies to their friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.

Collection Day

Two ways to collect from the community are to (1) have a drop-off day where people can bring cans and bottles to a set location on a specific day, or (2) have an actual drive where group members drive or walk around the community knocking on doors and asking for donations.

While the 2nd choice is actually a “drive”, it isn’t a safe option for children or youth, and it tends to be more difficult and time-consuming to organize.  A drop-off day is a much better choice because it keeps everyone in one area (much safer!), and if you choose a well-known public location, you’re likely to reach more people in the community because they’ll be coming to you instead of you trying to reach everyone door-to-door.  Ask your town if you can use a public space, or ask a local business to donate a space for the day.  Also, with a drop-off day you have the option of holding a barbecue or snack sale at the same time to raise additional funds.

Another option is to combine both methods and have a drop-off for young members (with adult supervision), and a door-to-door drive for adult members or volunteers.

The Fun Part

At the end of your bottle drive fundraiser, take all your collected recyclables to your local recycling plant, or recycling drop-off and exchange your trash for cash!


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