The mid-century was a time for change. Pocket change, as in pennies, nickels and dimes. My job as a young girl was to return our empty soda bottles to the small neighborhood grocery store around the corner in exchange for pocket change. When consumers bought bottled drinks like soda or beer, the practice was to pay a 2 cent deposit and return it to the store when empty. This early recycling practice was called bottle returns.
The ad you see with the smiling freckled-faced boy is for No Return bottles. The ad is from the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute.
As the population grew, and small neighborhood stores were replaced with big box grocery stores, the practice of bottle returns was not practical. Soda cans began to replace bottles. That is perhaps the reason for this ad to promote buying soft drinks in glass for better flavor.
Meanwhile, other changes were happening that took business away from the glass bottle industry. Milk was being sold in cardboard containers instead of glass. Here is a 1952 ad to promote the concept.
All this talk of disposable containers is troubling to our 21st century mindset. The idea of reuse or recycle makes us feel better in today’s world. However, landfill concerns were not on the radar in the mid-century. Neither were concerns about littering or cleaning up after oneself. Recall this classic Madmen picnic episode.
The Glass Container Manufacturers Institute also had concerns about littering and produced this ad. I don’t know the exact date, but it was sometime in the 1960’s.
Here’s another ad from the same era to promote no return bottles with the lyrics, “Soft drinks taste great in a bottle – it’s uncanny”.
Glass Packaging Institute Website
Bottle Recycling in the United States (Wikipedia)