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Ronald McDonald House: Collect Pop Tabs for a Cause

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Something So Small Can Make a Big Difference

My 8-year-old friend Daniel collects pop tabs. Which I figured was just a weird enough thing to make sense for an 8-year-old boy to want to collect. (Have you read the Judy Moody books? 8-year-olds collect all kinds of weird things.)

Turns out, he was collecting for a cause, not just for fun. All those pop tabs he puts in his Pringles can (or rather his mom the Dr. Pepper fiend) wind up going over to the Ronald McDonald House where they're sold to a recycling center. The money is then used to help pay for operations costs for running the house. (They have to pay the light bill somehow.)

So how many cans are you throwing in the recycle bin every day? (I know you aren't throwing them in the trash, right?) Take a second to pull the tab off before you toss the can and start your own collection for your local Ronald McDonald House. This is a great way to start training your kids to think of others and give back in the community.

Photo Credit: Clearly Ambiguous on flickr. CC BY 2.0 license.

Every Little Bit Counts

Why Pop Tabs?

How can something so small help?

Unlike the urban legend states, pop tabs do not support medical treatment of any kind including chemotherapy or dialysis; however, pop tabs do support the operations of Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. This popular fundraiser benefits seriously ill children by helping provide a place for them and their families to stay while they are out of town for medical treatment.

Recycling the tabs generates proceeds to donate to a local Ronald McDonald House. The tabs do not pay for treatment or night stays - only house operations. I read about one house that collected enough pop tabs in a year to put $8,000 toward operational costs. Nice!

Pop tabs are small and convenient to collect. Hundreds of thousands of pop tabs have been collected to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses.

Pop Tab Donation Resources

The average person drinks 12 cans of soda a week.

The average person drinks 12 cans of soda a week.

How to Participate in the Pop Tab Program

Collect and store your tabs.

Your local Ronald McDonald House might have collection boxes you can use, but a container with a plastic lid you can cut a slot into works fine. My friend uses a Pringles can; a coffee can would also be great.

Have the tabs recycled in your community and mail the proceeds to your house.

Your local house might have a connection with a recycling center already where you can take the tabs directly. If they have an account set up, then the money can just go directly to the local house. Otherwise, you can just take the money and make a donation yourself. You might also check to see if they have a wish list set up somewhere where you can purchase items for the house with the money.

Drop off your tabs at the Ronald McDonald House.

My local house has made provisions for you to bring your tabs to the house to drop off in a collection container at the front door.

Note: Check with your local house to see if they participate in the program and how they prefer to have collections/donations done.

More on the Ronald McDonald House

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Before you toss the empty can into the recycle bin, take off the tab!

Before you toss the empty can into the recycle bin, take off the tab!

Do You Collect Pop Tabs? Any tips to share? How'd you get involved? Here's your chance to shine!

carol2 on May 30, 2013:

My son and I stayed at a Ronald MacDonald House in Memphis, TN. It was a great place for kids - lots of toys, a couple of outdoor play-yards, and very clean. I'm very thankful that MacDonalds started these facilities and raises the funds to keep the homes operating.

CristianStan on March 14, 2013:

This story just shows that all it takes is a willing heart to change the world

DDLewis on October 27, 2012:

Ronald McDonald House provides a much needed resource and is a great charity to support! We save our pop tabs and take them periodically to the Ronald McDonald House. My daughter, after staying at a Ronald McDonald House, placed a box at church and at the barn where she took riding lessons and asked others to save their tabs, too. Good lens!!!

creyativity on October 14, 2012:

Very close to my heart as I stayed in one in Bristol when my granddaughter was sick. It`s a very deserving cause. Lovely lens

Susan (author) from Texas on October 01, 2012:

@anonymous: There's a link to the list up above. Or you could just call your local house to see when you could drop them by.

anonymous on September 30, 2012:

iI have thousands of taps need to know were to take them saving them for yrs .

anonymous on September 10, 2012:

@anonymous: You do more good recycling locally and donating the money. The tabs have the exact same value per pound as the rest of the aluminum can. This began as a hoax but after being deluged with tabs, they decided to male the hoax a reality. So they accept them and recycle the tabs JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CRV ALUMINUM. So its all just a silly waste of time sorting another category of trash, saving, storing, plus however you get the bundle to them. I just donated $20 to RMH in the names of a couple family members who have wasted time and cut fingertips messing around with filthy can tabs. At the redemption rate of $1.57 per pound in my area, that means I have donated the equivalent of 16,140 tabs. That equals a six pack every day for 7.37 years. Or one can a day for 44+ years. You do far more good just dedicating one recycling run to the cause.

Susan (author) from Texas on July 27, 2012:

@anonymous: I'd think however many you're comfortable keeping around. The little cardboard houses you can get from RMH are pretty small, and my friend used Pringles containers for his, then would take them when he had a few full. They'd probably rather you didn't come by with just one tab, but there's no reason to wait until you have bags and bags of them.

anonymous on July 26, 2012:

@anonymous: do you know an estimate of how many you save up before you turn the pop tabs in?

anonymous on July 15, 2012:

Shriner's Hospitals for Children collect them to use the aluminum to make braces for disabled chilren (like leg braces). SHC is also a donation-based service that does not charge the families for service so collecting the tabs is a great way to help with the cost of treatments.

enderberett on June 29, 2012:

I got involved because recycling in phoenix, Arizona is really big. The climate makes everyone much more environment friendly, and it's just been like that for a while. But even I didn't know about recycling pop tabs!

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on June 07, 2012:

We collect through our church for our local RMH chapter. I'm using your lens on my social networks to promote the project and encourage people in Cape Coral to bring us their tabs and join theirs with ours to increase effectiveness.

anonymous on June 04, 2012:

@anonymous: Nobody wants to know this, apparently. I guess people like feeling like they're doing good more than they actually want to get something substantial done. Seriously, collect pennies or even all kinds of aluminum, but all this time and effort for just the tabs is like starting a paper drive and just accepting bus transfers.

Rose Jones on June 01, 2012:

I had no idea about this neat cause - I contribute my cans to a friend who recycles them, but we have just been throwing away the tabs. :( I am definitely going to look into changing this around! The Ronald MacDonald house has really helped a friend of mine who has a son with cerebral palsy. Pinned to my board "Doing Good" and Squidoo Angel Blessed!

anonymous on May 31, 2012:

@captainj88: Leah I have about 1 gal. of these pop tabs. I will send you them if you want. My email is to get a address or just tell me where to send them to. IE Church or organization. Thanks a lot Jamie

anonymous on May 29, 2012:

I take mine to america first credit union metro office on 500 south in salt lake

for the Ronald McDonald house

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on April 27, 2012:

My church and our coffee shop have been supporting RMH with pop tabs collections for a while; now we have about 40 people contributing their tabs each month.

CarreiraS on April 15, 2012:

My sister makes some pop tab jewelry herself. I must admit I think it looks great even though I'm too much man to use it haha

Fay Favored from USA on April 15, 2012:

We did this years and years ago when I coached Little League. I didn't think they still collected them.

ljclark on April 13, 2012:

Such an easy way to give...and we have tons to give for such a great cause. Thanks for this info!

linkreggie on April 12, 2012:

Usually, I kept all the can after I've drink and sell it.

anonymous on April 12, 2012:

Great idea for fundraising. Will find out if they do it here in Australia as well.

anonymous on April 12, 2012:

I am fond of drinking delicious liquids. So its fun recycling pop tabs as well.

aliciascott17 on April 11, 2012:

@BookWormLaser: I agree. There's a lot of ways on how to recycle the can. It can also help saving the planet, we will reduce the garbage that we throw everyday. It will benefit both the planet and the needy.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 11, 2012:

I don't consume anything that comes with a pop tab. However, I do pick up plenty of trash left behind by others. Much of that trash does have a pop tab. Now I know what to do with those tabs. This is a cause I would feel great about supporting. Thanks for increasing my awareness. I will spread the word and do my part.

Lenskeeper on April 10, 2012:

I have a special container for my pop tabs so that it's easy to just to drop one in as I open a soft drink. Great lens!

JoleneBelmain on April 10, 2012:

I save my can tabs, but I give them to a friend who collects them for this company who melts them down and makes wheelchairs out of them.

I have a daughter who was diagnosed with Meningitis when she was only a month old, and had to stay out of province for medical treatment for 2 weeks before returning for 1 more week of treatment in our own town (I was lucky enough to be able to stay in the hospital with my daughter, I slept in a chair beside her crib). Ronald McDonald houses are such a great cause, and help out so much :)

MargaretJeffreys on April 10, 2012:

This is probably a stupid question, but if you are going to sell the tabs for recycling, why not use the whole can?

Alan from Mobile, AL on April 10, 2012:

Why not recycle the whole can and give the money to the Ronald McDonald house? It takes about 28 empty cans to equal a pound and somewhere around 1700 can tabs to equal a pound. That is over 1700 cans people could be throwing away, thinking they are doing great things. Please, if you save the can tabs, recycle the can as well. The tabs are very convenient and it is a great program, but please recycle the can as well.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on April 09, 2012:

I save my pop tabs (but I don't drink much pop these days) and take to add to the collection where I volunteer. Great cause! Now I know how it helps.

RachelDillin on April 09, 2012:

Thanks for the reminder. We used to collect these all the time.

intermarks on April 09, 2012:

I don't collect pop tabs by my sister is collecting it. She have a full box of pop tabs that she has collected for almost 5 years. I will show her your this lens and I believe she will definitely like it so much.

allenwebstarme on April 08, 2012:

When I was kid, I collect some weird things lot, but never recycle it for reuse. Good lens.

Forrest McKinnis from West Richland on April 08, 2012:

Very cool topic. I think this could be twisted to fit into a class lesson or maybe a leadership team activity.

anonymous on April 08, 2012:

I have had to stay in the Ronald McDonald house when my daughter was born until she was around 8 weeks old. They are lovely and a great cause! Everyone should help where they can.

lasertek lm on April 08, 2012:

This is a great cause. I'll start collecting pop tabs from now on.

suzy-t on April 08, 2012:

You bet we do !... Glad to help too... We have a big bucket in the garage and we're getting ready to donate them soon. It's such a worthy cause. Blessed...

abb1fan on April 08, 2012:

I love pop can jewerly.

anonymous on March 30, 2012:

I collect the whole can and $ goes for brain injury support group. Just wanted to say also, that Ronald McD. House is an awesome charity. The house was not quite ready when we needed one while infant daughter was in hospital, for couple weeks, but had it been up and running, it would have served us well. Throughout the years, I've found ways to donate toward it--even if only at the drive up window.

Nice lens.

justDawn1 on March 18, 2012:

Yes I save them & just last weekend gave a plastic grocery bag full of tabs to a little girl that collects them for the Shriner's Hospital :)

chrisssy on February 29, 2012:

Great lens. I used to work as a bartender for 7 years at this little bar that seemed like more of a homeless shelter. All in all I loved my regulars and they respected me back. I had this one older man-his name was Gary-who would come in, faithfully, at the exact same time every single day with all kinds of bags filled with thousands of pop tabs (no exaggeration). He dropped them off and I never actually knew what they were for. Over a matter of 2 years, Gary collected 26 million pop tabs, just on his own

anonymous on February 13, 2012:

My younger sister was ejected from a tumbling Ford Explorer at 70mph. She was airlifted to Little Rock's Children's Hospital that night. It was in the Ronald McDonald House where I lived for the first three days.. Thank you so much!

staymor on December 22, 2011:

Great cause!

Angela unLocked on December 16, 2011:

I save pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, OH. My sister and her family stayed for two months after the birth of their daughter, Daphne. Daphne was born with a congenital heart defect called HLHS. We are very thankful to the RMH. They help keep families close in times of need. Thanks for this great lens!

baby-strollers on December 13, 2011:

I like it! Such a small thing making a big difference....

anonymous on November 05, 2011:

never knew about this! thanks for sharing!

anonymous on November 04, 2011:

Are soda can tabs the only ones acceptable? Mighty Dog dog food comes in aluminum cans and I save the tabs along with soda pop tabs. Are they acceptable? I recycle the cans and save the tabs for my granddaughter's school.

anonymous on October 29, 2011:

who in nyc collects pop tabs

Formosangirl LM on October 17, 2011:

I didn't even know about the pop tabs. Thanks for sharing.

modernchakra on September 29, 2011:

Thanks for putting together a thorough explanation... I have cut down on my pop but I was drinking quite a bit for while and while not the best for my body, I made sure to pull those tabs, as my sister was quite the collector. (I needed to cut back significantly on sugar and caffeine but let me tell you, energy drinks provide an array of pop tab colors, size and shape!! Thanks again. Good info.

anonymous on September 28, 2011:

I don't but I may need too!

sncalo lm on September 28, 2011:

Will start now!

TapIn2U on September 26, 2011:

A lens with a cause. Thanks for the motivation. Will start saving my pop tabs. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

lauraklebsch on September 25, 2011:

I absolutely love the idea of the Ronald McDonald house. I have a niece that had twins about 6mo ago. One of the babies had cysts on her kidney starting while she was in the womb. They did some test to see if they were growing very fast while she was still unborn and the results came back good. When the babies were born she had gone for another test and then returned to have it drained by syringe and filled with alcohol to dry it up. A couple weeks after that she returned for follow up and learned that the cysts had grown back twice as fast so now they have to go back and stay for 5 days. The caring house has made this all possible for them to go out of town to have these procedures done. It is a blessing to have such an organization as this for those not fortunate enough to get a hotel. Thank you to all who help people like my niece!

TheChartographer on September 24, 2011:

A little selflessness goes a long way. Never even knew this program existed! I'll be saving mine now.

LinkCollection on September 18, 2011:

we are in Puerto Rico, i would like to know where to bring the tabs i collect? We would like to be part of this great team, thank you

Chris Morris from Nashville on September 18, 2011:

My daughter is always reminding me to snap off the tab on any coke I drink. I comply or will incur her wrath :)

Shamim Rajabali from Texas on September 17, 2011:

You did a great job letting everyone know about this great cause. My son had collected these for his Boy Scouts project and that's how I know about it. Thanks.

darciefrench lm on September 02, 2011:

Blessed by an angel on the labor day weekend bus :)

TheGourmetCoffe on September 02, 2011:

Very nice lens for a great cause. Quite inspiring!

NidhiRajat on September 01, 2011:

wow..its amazing!!!!

computer_repair on August 27, 2011:

If you mix those tabs with Sodium Hydroxide and little water, you get instant hydrogen. Someone make a kit that does this please.

Loretta from United States on August 10, 2011:

*~*~*~*sprinkles of SquidAngel dust*~*~*~*

Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on July 22, 2011:

Great lens! Did not know about this.

AigulErali on June 24, 2011:

Great lens for an important cause. Thumbs up!

Susan300 on May 08, 2011:

Ah ha! I've always wondered why people collect the tabs. Now I know. Thanks! :)

story3girl lm on May 05, 2011:

What a great way to make a difference. Thanks for sharing!

textbookmommy on April 19, 2011:

I wasn't aware of this, thanks for this inspirational lens! *Blessed by a SquidAngel

anonymous on April 15, 2011:

I work as a helper on a bus for special needs children; one young lady who utilizes the RMH collects them. I took an eclipse gum plastic container (so handy, either the whole lip opens, or the small little lid opens) and have started to fill it up. Once it's full I'm giving the whole container to her, then take another container (I go through a lot of gum :/) and start the process all over again. Not only are the pop tabs getting put to use instead of the landfill, but the gum container finds a new use as well. The bus driver collects the cans themselves to sell to a salvage yard.

anonymous on March 19, 2011:

If your school has fudraisers for a charity, this is such a great idea that can multiply more than you could do yourself. Just ask your principle or Student Council and your on your way.

jackieb99 on February 27, 2011:

Such a good idea to raise money!

anonymous on February 16, 2011:

@anonymous: I am in Seattle, WA area and would like to know where I can take my 125 lbs of pop tabs. The RMH will not accept them up here. My plan has always been to donate to them or get as much money per lb. to donate. Any ideas out there?

anonymous on February 15, 2011:

@anonymous: I am actually a manager at your local Ronald McDonald House. You can bring your pop tops to the house any day of the week from 9am till 9pm. Our house is located at 2330 Monument Avenue and if you would like you can bring some of your coworkers with you and we can show you around the house. If you would like to set up a date you can email us a Thanks, Jamie

EileenSmith LM on February 08, 2011:

I do collect soda tabs! I send them through someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. It's a decent system, really. Really informative lens! I never knew any of the stats surrounding the number of tabs and such... just sort of got into it after friends of mine did.

JanieceTobey on January 13, 2011:

Blessed by a Squid Angel!

blakugan on January 06, 2011:


anonymous on December 27, 2010:

100 pull tabs have a value of 3 1/2 cents according to this article. Why not just save pennies and you'd have 3x the amount to donate to charity ?

anonymous on November 08, 2010:

@anonymous: Problem with saving the entire can, is dealing with all the soda that people let in their soda cans.

I know this because for the past two years I've been collecting the soda cans from the break room at my job. I had a collection container for the cans, and at least once a week I had a bag of cans to take home & crush. About 6-8 months ago, I gave up crushing them because every time I opened a bag, there was so much soda to deal with. My basement is a dirt floor, but all the soda made a sticky mess.

Last week my husband and I decided not to collect the soda cans any more and instead, collect the tabs. The reason......... last Thursday I had a bag of cans to take home and forgot I set it by the time clock. Friday when I went into work, all the soda in the bag was leaking out and creating a mess. So, this past Saturday my husband and I took the 15 bags of cans we had in our basement over to the recycling center. Total weight: 36 lbs. minus 3 for the bags, and I got $12. and some odd change. Took all summer til last week to get 36 lbs.

Now, add in the weight from all the soda left in the cans.

So, we decided to give it up. The money I'd get I'd save to get a GIANT gift card to give RMH for Christmas. So, once again I have just enough to get another $50. gift card.

anonymous on October 28, 2010:

Myy offic has ben collectiong tabs for Ronald McDonald House and I have no idea where to take them. Janice Johnson Richmond Virginia

anonymous on October 26, 2010:

Why not just let the people who want to make a difference do so. If a kid wants to pull some tabs off a can and donate that then why not. Regardless of the amount of money they would get for a tab. They would be using their time and effort to make a differrence. Its more than just walking in dropping off tabs and then walking out. It does take a lot of time to pull or collect the tabs. Small. Yes! But it still shows that they care and want to do something. This would show them that something small does count and it would lead to more charitable contributions and time later down the road.

If someone wants to do this then let them. Don't berate or belittle their efforts.

No one is saying pull the tab and throw the can in the trash. Pull the tab and give it to Ronald McDonald house to raise awareness for their cause and recycle the can!?! Stop being so simple minded and negative.

anonymous on October 20, 2010:


My gosh people, I cannot fathom how this ridiculous exercise has proliferated through our culture.

Simply put, the tab is aluminum...SO IS THE CAN.

The can weighs about 15 grams and the tab weighs about 1/3 of a gram. Using the example from above you could take the time to rip off 1267 tabs and get 40 cents OR donate 1267 whole cans and raise $18.

Please people think for yourselves...this is just selling recycled aluminum...the whole can is aluminum and there is NOTHING special about the tab.

This may have started years ago when the can was tin, but that was decades ago and people are still wasting time ripping off something worth 0.03 cents and then throwing away the can that is worth 1.4 cents.

Now that will pay some electric bills folks.

anonymous on October 18, 2010:

@anonymous: Well it is true. This country has gone down the toilet.. Why don't you put yourself in the other families shoes for a moment. How would YOU feel if you had no money to pay for your daughters life saving surgery? Or have the tests done, needed to find out what's wrong with your daughter? Or for the chemo your daughter needs to help with her leukiema? Not everyone has time to set aside 6 hours a week for volunteer work at a soup kitchen. I know I don't. I go to school Full time, i work full time, plus i have kids a full time job in its self. Not to mention I have a daughter who is epileptic(sp) so I've been in those parents shoes.!! Take the extra 5 seconds to pull off the tab, and send it to a Ronald McDonalds house to help those kids. JUST PUT YOURSELF IN THE OTHER PARENTS SHOES FOR 5 MINUTES. I BET YOU WOULD CHANGE YOUR MIND REAL QUICK AND IN A HURRY..!! I save every tab we get, I even collect them from my co workers. Then we cash in our soda cans themselves and donate to the RMCDH..!(Ronald McDonald House)

Kathy McGraw from California on October 12, 2010:

Laughing at some of your comments on how this isn't a good ROI for our time...maybe if I was to support my family on this I might want to have a job that paid more per hour or day, but the way this is run, you spend a few hours here and there...add those tabs to others people have collected and then it adds up. Yes, that is the wisdom...millions of people donating a little :) Blessed by an Angel with a social conscious....

anonymous on October 06, 2010:

40 cents for 1567 poptops! You people are totally nuts! Why not donate the time your wasting collecting these worthless poptops and do some real good. 40 poptops are worth only 1 cent.

anonymous on August 17, 2010:

Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta (in Calgary, AB, Canada) is trying to grow their pull tab program. If you want to donate, here is their website:

anonymous on August 11, 2010:

@anonymous: you can always take it to a recycling center and get money from it and give that to RMH

anonymous on August 05, 2010:

@anonymous: how did you get so many so fast?

anonymous on August 05, 2010:

@anonymous: It is called helping your community. Keeping the tabs out of the landfills for one thing and allowing Ronald McDonald House to continue helping children with medical needs. You don't have to get paid for EVERYTHING you do. You volunteer to do these things for FREE

Susan (author) from Texas on August 04, 2010:

@anonymous: Yep - it's not the most efficient means of raising money. And many myths abound about it, which is why I did this lens. But, it's a great PR move for the RM House to raise awareness and give a purpose to the tabs, which so many kids collect anyway. And for the kids I know, a great way to get them in the mindset of doing for others. There's more to it than just the value of the tab.

Susan (author) from Texas on August 04, 2010:

@anonymous: Anna - the money from the tabs goes toward operating expenses, not toward any medical care.

Susan (author) from Texas on August 04, 2010:

@anonymous: Krista - you could just take them to donate at the recycle center, then send the money to the RM house. Other than that, options would include crafters or schools who might use them in projects.

anonymous on August 03, 2010:

@anonymous: well if local schools or 4-h offices collect then donate there. if not, then seek somewhere to ship them to. I'm sure they would love to have them, and just think, you could be saving a young child's life just by the little non pricey donation.

anonymous on July 18, 2010:

@sw259702: they do collect the can but doing that is more of a hasell

anonymous on July 18, 2010:

i have been collecting soda tabs since june 28 and so far i have 62,900 ( 40 pounds!)

anonymous on July 10, 2010:

Assume five seconds to yank off a pop tab and put it in your collection container. There are 1591 pop tabs per pound, which pays 40 cents for the higher quality pure aluminum in the tab as opposed to the lower quality aluminum alloy in the can itself. Do the math, and you're donating your time to recycle pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House valued at 18.1 CENTS AN HOUR! And that doesn't include the time and GASOLINE to transport the collected pop tabs to the local Ronald McDonald House.

This is dumber than dirt.

Is this a Chinese plot to lower the international competitiveness of dumb Americans?

Ronald needs a PayPal donate button.

I hate stupidity.

anonymous on July 05, 2010:

some RM houses don't take the tabs so i don't know who to give them to.....i have boxes of tabs sitting around and don't know who to give them to!!

anonymous on May 06, 2010:

@sw259702: the tabs are smaller than the whole can

anonymous on May 04, 2010:

@anonymous: Do you still have the tabs, i make clothing and accessories from them and would be interested in purchasing them from you.

Susan (author) from Texas on April 30, 2010:

@sw259702: There are some who say the tab is more pure aluminum because it's not painted, thus worth more. I've found nothing to actually support that claim. My thought is that it's a self-perpetuating cycle. Collecting pop tabs is easy to do, people are already doing it. RMH just gives them something to do with them once they have collected. Taking advantage of the situation rather than trying to change people's behavior.

sw259702 on April 30, 2010:

why would they want the tab when they could have the whole can?

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