We may be past the golden age of recycling profits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make some cash from your trash and unwanted junk. I’ve done the mental work for you, and put together four ideas for how you can monetize your discarded items From earning gift cards to earning real cash, here’s something to get you started.
1. Discover what recycling opportunities are near you.
The first step to making money recycling is to determine what recycling opportunities are available to you. Start by finding your nearest recycling centers: you can do this on sites like this one RecyclingCenters.org And Earth911. Recycling Centers will give you specific recycling center locations, while Earth911 adds listings for big stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc. These sites include some information about what materials each location recycles, but it’s a good idea to give them a call to confirm what materials they accept, what condition those materials must be in, and what compensation you can expect for each item. (Please note that some of these recycling places will only pay for drop-offs and materials. So it’s important to call and see if they pay first!)
Some of the most profitable items to recycle are scrap metal and electronics; If you’re in the right situation, you can still make some cash on bottles and aluminum cans. (You can find out if your state has a bottle bill Bottle Bill Resource Guide.) Otherwise, you may need to be a local recycling drop-off for your neighborhood to collect enough waste material to make a profit. Place recycling bins where anyone around you can drop off recyclables and make sure they understand they’re donating. You can offer collection at the local office.
Don’t forget to check your recycling options online too – there are sites dedicated to buying everything from your used smartphone (Gazelle) to used ink cartridges (TonerBuyer).
2. Start recycling in your own home with organization and creativity.
To keep yourself focused on maximizing your recycling profits, start with organization in your own home. Come up with a system for regularly cleaning materials you can reuse – clean things like aluminum cans or bottles that are used every day. Ensure that discarded food packaging is clear of any food matter. Designate a bin or a place in your home to store these items, where you can easily see how much you’ve collected and judge when to cash in.
An organized system of collecting, cleaning and sorting can help you think of new ways to use these items. Upcycling is a popular practice these days, and you can find thousands of ideas online on how to upcycle or reuse different items – seriously, you can do everything from turning bike wheels into chandeliers to using bulldog clips for cable organization to transforming coffee cans. You can get tutorials on House plant pot. The only limits to upcycling are your imagination and observing safety requirements. Of course, upcycling won’t put you in quick cash – but it can save you money in the long run by reclaiming junk at home instead of buying new things.
Don’t forget the arts and crafts corner! Tons of discarded materials can become your next art project – old keys can be turned into decorative key hooks, or discarded tin cans can be transformed into snazzy luminary holders. Old bottles become canvases for sand art, while scraps of leftover yarn can be turned into tiny crocheted creatures. Art is worth much more than the sum of its parts, and you can sell your creations on sites like Etsy.
3. Don’t throw something away without checking if you can recycle it first!
You’d be surprised to discover exactly what you can recycle by selling it to someone for cash. A popular example: Do you drink wine? It’s possible that all your discarded wine corks could earn you some money! No joke – just do a search on eBay and discover many, many cork listings They are a popular craft item! Natural cork is a sought-after recyclable.
Remember: Every time you plan to trash something, do a quick internet search to see if you can make money from recycling. Try a variety of searches focused on selling or repurposing items in addition to recycling. This will give you a quick idea of your options for turning your trash into cash. If you’re not interested in recycling an item yourself, someone online can pay you to do it. Try selling old colanders as DIY hanging planters, or wooden crates as material for possible shelving, planters or storage ottomans. You can even find places to sell your used cooking oil!
Here’s another wild – but potentially profitable – recycling idea: Have long, healthy hair that you want to cut short for the summer? Consider selling your hair! Healthy hair, depending on length, can net anywhere from $100-$900 – or more! Check out BuyandSellHair.com To see how the market is.
4. Take advantage of recycling credit or points programs.
While it’s not free and clear cash in the barrel, you can still make some money by taking advantage of recycling credit programs. In other words, you return your used ink cartridges to a place like Staples or take car (and light truck) batteries to Advance Auto Parts, and then they give you a gift card or credit to use at their store. Last I checked, Advanced Auto Parts will give you a $10 gift card – not too shabby! Staples will give you a $2 credit per recycled ink cartridge (although you have to buy the ink cartridges from them first to do this).
You can sign up for a site Recyclebank – After you register on the site, you can take “green steps” towards a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. This includes recycling! As you complete these actions, you’ll earn points, and your points can later be exchanged for discounts at local businesses or on various products.