Marquette author Richard P. Smith typically writes books about deer, bear and other wildlife. However, although his latest book does not center around nature as much, the topic still has ramifications for the environment.
Smith recently published "Nickel & Dime Your Way To Extra Dollars While Saving The Planet," which focuses on the Michigan beverage container deposit law that was pased in 1976 and put into effect in 1978, with a 10-cent deposit placed on most cans and bottles.
Not everyone returns their containers, but according to Smith, they should.
"It reduces greenhouse gasses," he said. "It increases recycling."
Smith said that by recycling metals and glass in containers, new minerals don't have to be mined.
"It reduces mining activity, and it makes it easier to produce more containers from the material that's recycled." Smith said. "The containers that come in that are returned for deposits, are among the cleanest type of recyclable containers, and they can be resued very easily and cheaply."
Recycling these containers also cuts down on limited landfill space, he said. There are personal financial benefits as well, which prompted him to write the book.
"I've been collecting drink containers from roadside litter since long before the deposit law went into effect," Smith said. "I've seen people trying to return Meijer Brand containers at Walmart and things like that. I thought I would pass on, in the book, information that I've learned over the years collecting returnables that other people throw away.
"It helped us save money on groceries and gas, and with today's ecnomy, I thought a lot of other people would benefit from that information as well."
For people who don't want to go to the grocery store to return their containers, Smith included a chapter on organizations holding can and bottle drives to earn money. For eample, Moosewood Nature Center in Marquette raised about $12,000 through its Cans For Critters drive.
In fact, by following advice laid out in the book, people can collecting enough returnables to bring in hundres or thousands of dollars, depending on how much time they want to spend.
Smith pointed out that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the redemption rate reached all-time lows in Michigan in 2020 and 2021, with the return of cans and bottles for deposit refunds stopped from March 25 to June 15, 2020. That resulted in many people getting out of the habit of reclaiming deposit money.
Smith believes people should continue returning their containers.
"Beverage containers have for years ended up where they didn't belong - remote wilderness settings, lakes and rivers in addition to roadsides," he wrote. "Makers and sellers of verages have locial places for their returns. We as taxpayers pay to see that these containers are disposed of properly whether it is in the form of taxes for highway cleanup and municipal solid waste disposal or through deposits.
"To my way of think, deposits are the most efficient way of getting the job done."
The book includes chapters on topics such as checking garbage cans, cleaning tips, getting returnables to the right place, reverse vending machines and unclaimed desposits, among others.
There still could be room for improvement, although Smith noted in the book that 75% of money from the Bottle Deposit Fund goes to the state of Michigan for environmental cleanup and pollution prevention, and 25% of unclaimed deposits is distributed to retailers.
Smith believes that the deposit law should be expanded to include coffe, tea and energy drinks - which he noted are the most common types of roadside litter.
"Coffee drinks weren't as common when the original law was passed in 1976," he said.
The book can be found in various bookstores and gift shops, and can be ordered for $20 postpaid from Smith Publications, 814 Clark St., Marquette, MI 49855, or at www.richardpsmith.com.