No Redemption, No Returns
This project is not about alcohol consumption. It is about irresponsible use and disposal of containers.
In 2022, the state of CT legislature decided it would be a good idea to add a 5-cent fee to the price of “nips” – the small size to-go bottles of alcoholic products. This is a fee (not a tax) and is in lieu of a returnable deposit. It was proposed by a liquor lobby, Three Tiers for Connecticut. The collected funds are to be distributed to towns, proportionally based on the sales of such. The funds could presumably be used to deal with the problem of litter. Nobody – including those who proposed the fee – thinks it will stop the immediate problem, the littering of the empty bottles. 1., 2.
Proceeds from the 5-cent fees: I read that our town (pop. 18,693 in 2020) got about $12,000 for the first quarter. Another local town got $43,000. Certainly, NO town is hiring people to go walking around to pick them up. One idea I read about is to install special filters on storm drains systems to block them.
The bottles are routinely (ALWAYS) littered out of passing car windows onto roadsides because, of course, people who are driving and drinking do not want to hold onto evidence; open containers are fineable whether or not one is at a legal limit for driving while under the influence.
Make no mistake – people are driving around under the influence. Can’t even wait to get home. Or they can’t drink at home because they need to hide it, or they are underage. So, they do it on the way. Through your neighborhoods. Where you walk and ride your bike. Be careful.
Also troubling is the litter. Admittedly, there would have to be an extremely high refund fee to get these drinkers to risk keeping the empties in the vehicle to return instead of littering. I really can’t imagine any amount that would work, actually.
And so – they are tossed.
In one day, near my house on my run, along about 100 yards of roadside in the weeds and grass, I picked up so many that I couldn’t hold them. I had to go home to get a bag. On another day, another bag full. Some were intact but many are not.
Eventually the town comes along to mow the sides of the road and they get chopped up. Which means little, tiny pieces of plastic are headed into the storm drain system or directly into waterways. We live across the street from marshes on the Long Island Sound where we regularly see Ospreys, Red Wing Blackbirds, Harrier hawks, owls, and a myriad of other birds and wildlife. None of them should incorporate the bottles or pieces of plastic into their lifestyle.
I became disgusted and angry, momentarily forgetting about all of the good souls who are actually concerned about our fragile earth.
Coincidentally, I saw a post on “Nextdoor” by a person who wondered why she had found a pile of nips in a parking lot. I commented. So did a lot of others. One person proposed that an equal amount of fast food and non-alcoholic beverage containers are littered. From what I see, he is wrong. I see a few of those – maybe kids who need mixers – but the overwhelming majority of litter pieces are straight shot nips bottles. I guess beer is not as popular on the road because it takes too long to chug. Same for wine.
The nips are sold as “sleeves” – like a sleeve of ammunition.
A friend told me about a fashion show that raises money for charity – “anything but fabric” is the idea. So, I had the idea to make a ballgown of the copper knitting that I often include in my pieces and adorn it with nips. I decided to take it to legislative meeting places and community events to raise awareness of the problem.
The bottles I used are just a portion of those I found. Many more were given to me by three persons who pick them up on their walks. I recycled many that were very damaged but still had the recycle symbol showing. So many good-hearted people reached out to me that I had to post that I did not need any more for my project, but I also posted that I was very glad to know of so many like-minded people and hoped that they would continue in their noble effort to pick up after selfish people who don’t care about littering.
I washed all of these by hand. Took off the caps, soaked them in batches in the kitchen sink full of soapy water with a little Clorox – because, ew. I let them dry and reassembled the lids. You get to know which lids go with which bottles.
Upon opening the lids for cleaning, the smell of the alcohol flavor after being on the side of the road and exposed to weather is not pleasant. The smell of Clorox Clean-up and weird fake alcohol flavors is also very gross.
Jim Beam and Fireball have the market majority. Next are the flavored vodkas (Smirnoff), and then, all sorts of sweet icky-flavored things like grape, coconut, tropical etc. Well… I imagine they are sweet; I have no interest in trying any of these. A new one I found this week: Dr. McGillicuddy’s 98.6 Proof Mint Liqueur. In case you are wondering: There was one small wine bottle in the mix.
I recycled the fancier ones that come in glass bottles – tequila, and a pricier vodka – because I didn’t want the heavier weight for making the strung “garland” that would adorn the dress.
I did not use the many larger (double??) size, for aesthetic reasons. Those also got recycled.
I know of two arguments for not banning them completely except for limited use in hotels and airlines, where they would most likely be disposed of properly: 1. That they make fun stocking stuffers or additions to gift baskets. 2. And that they are a less expensive way to try a fancy liquor.
Um…well, I suppose. But I could live without that. Seriously.
What do you think? Could you live without these being on the market? Tell your representatives!
Thanks for your attention and consideration.
ps…can you guess how many hours I spent knitting?