• A viral post on Facebook claims any bottled water or non-perishables returned to a store will be thrown away
  • Publix says they do resale bottled water and non-perishables as long as they have not been tampered with
  • Walmart has a history of throwing away large amounts of edible products

As the east coast anxiously waits to see what Hurricane Dorian is going to do, a viral post on Facebook warns if you return any bottled water, canned foods, or non-perishable items the stores will just throw them away. Is there any truth to the claim?

Hurricane Dorian

Courtney Smith Wine made the post on Sunday to warn people preparing for Dorian, which is now a category 5 hurricane with wind speeds up to 185 mph. The massive hurricane made its first landfall at 12:40 pm in Elbow Cay at 12:40 pm on Sunday and is moving towards the east coast at 7 mph. Elbow Cay is in the Bahamas located 185 miles east of West Palm Beach.

With this year’s hurricane season starting with such a massive storm, it is no surprise residents of the east coast have stocked up on supplies to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. It is not uncommon for people to over-prepare for these storms and then attempt to recoup some of their money by returning items that were not used after the storm passes. According to Wine’s post, returning some frequently bought items could contribute to a global issue of food waste.

Will Bottled Water And Non-Perishables Be Thrown Away

In Wine’s post she claims many of these items will be thrown away. The post goes on to list some great ideas to help the community by donating items you do not end up using. The post has gone viral and been shared over 16,000 times.

Read: Floridians Are Once Again Reminded Not To Shoot At Hurricane Dorian

Unfortunately, this is not a yes or no question as it depends on what store you purchased your products on. Perishable items cannot be resold and will be thrown away regardless of where you bought it from. If you are okay with taking the loss, perishable items can be donated to some organizations that will see they get put to good use.


In 2017, the Tampa Bay Times published an article on this exact subject. In the article Publix stated they do not just throw away non-perishable items or bottled water. After being returned the items will be inspected and if they were not tampered with they are placed back on the shelf for sale. Discuss reached out to Publix and were told bottled water and non-perishables are resold as long as they have not been tampered with.


At Walmart the chances your returned products are going in the trash are much higher. Walmart has a policy that if any edible products leave the store they cannot be resold. Some alleged employees in different chats online claim their store will resale non-perishables and bottled water if they appear to be unopened, but those claims appear to be few and far between and highly disputed by employees at other stores. In 2016 Walmart received backlash after the CDC Marketplace looked in their dumpsters to see how much food is thrown away. Bottled water and canned goods are seen in the pictures that Marketplace took.

At the end of the day, if you really want to return your items but have concern over adding to the food waste problem, your best bet is to inquire within the store you purchased the items from. Wine’s post does have some great ideas for donations. Along with great ideas for donations, Wine also makes a good point when she says “you might want to hold onto those things.” With hurricane season just starting there is a likely chance you may need these items after Dorian passes. Bottled water and non-perishable items can then be donated to local organizations such as the ones listed by Wine. If you want to be sure your items are not going in the trash, your best bet is to donate them where they will be used.



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