10 Easy Ways to Make Money Recycling

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Everyone wants to make a positive difference in the world around them. What if you could achieve that goal while making a little extra spending money? Intrigued? Great, because the following are 10 ways to do just that. Use these hacks to make money recycling items you probably already have lying around your house:

Ways to Make Money Recycling

1.) Sell Used Cardboard Boxes

Let’s face it, we all have way too many used cardboard boxes scattered around our houses thanks to the mandatory shutdowns and trustworthy Amazon Prime. Consider using a site like BoxCycle that allows you to sell your used cardboard boxes to people who live in close proximity. This will be a lifesaver for a person in need of boxes to pack up for a move. In addition, it keeps the boxes from cluttering up your house and makes you a little money in the bargain.

Pro tip: If you just want to get rid of some boxes but don’t want to go through the trouble of actually selling them, ask friends or family members if they need them for a move or for storage. You can also let your kids have a fun, imaginative day of make believe using the boxes as stand-ins for houses, refrigerators, cars or more. You won’t make any money, but will be helping someone else out. If you do let your kids use the boxes, be sure to recycle them once used instead of simply throwing them away.

2.) Recycle Those Old Books

If you have bookshelves or boxes full of books, dictionaries, textbooks, cookbooks, etc. and you know you aren’t going to reread them or need to reference them anytime soon, you can actually make some extra cash by recycling them. That’s right, sites like DeCluttr allow you to post electronics, games, textbooks and more for sale on their site. To use DeCluttr, type the book’s barcode in, and you will instantly be given a fair market price. If you like what you see and decide to pass your possessions on to someone else in exchange for some spending money, use the free shipping label provided by DeCluttr. Then, pack them up and send them on their way. Amazon Trade-In also offers a way to recoup some money from those outrageously overpriced textbooks you have on hand. Enter the ISBN from the book to see how much it’s worth.

Pro tip: Don’t get rid of all your boxes if you plan to recycle your books or you won’t have anything available to ship in, recycle books first, then any boxes you don’t use.

3.) Sell Unwanted, Used Ink Cartridges

This is likely something you never thought of selling. However, you can actually make some money off of the empty ink cartridges you currently have cluttering up the junk drawer. One way is to take them to an office supply store. Stores like Office Max, Staples or Office Depot will sometimes offer incentives for recycling empty cartridges. The deal will likely be something like $2 store credit or a similar offer. If you want more than store credit or coupons, you could instead sell them on eBay or Craigslist. That’s right, amazingly enough, you can sell empty ink cartridges using these sites. With Craigslist, you can sell to people in your general proximity. On eBay, you can group the cartridges together to get more money. For example, at one time someone sold eight empty ink cartridges on eBay for nearly $40.

Pro tip: Be careful selling anything on Craigslist. Check out your local safe spots where you can meet people in a neutral location. Don’t tell anyone where you live. Most cities have a designated spot, often in a Police Station parking lot, where Craigslist shoppers/buyers can meet, safely.

4.) Spin Your Bottles and Cans Into Cash

Another way to make some extra money with something you likely have on hand is returning used cans and bottles for compensation. States differ on their rates in terms of how much you can expect to gain from a bunch of bottles or cans. Many offer around five cents, while Michigan will give up to 10 cents for most cans, glass and plastic bottles.

Pro tip: Your individual bottle deposit rate will vary based on your geographic location, so check before beginning to collect to determine what you can expect to “make” on your collected cans and bottles. This resource lists some basic information on that topic.

5.) Get Rid of Old Vehicle Batteries

After your car or truck’s battery has bit the dust, it really isn’t good for much of anything, except making a little extra money. You can make as much as $10 per battery if you take them to either AutoZone or Advance Auto for recycling.

Pro tip: Sometimes these monetary rewards are given only towards the purchase of a new battery. Therefore, in some cases, it will only help you save a bit of money towards buying a new battery, instead of actually putting money in your pocket, but as they say “a penny saved is a penny earned,” so it still works.

6.) Turn That Scrap Metal Into Money

Did you know that steel is the most recycled metal? It is likely because you can recycle steel repetitively without reducing its strength or performance. However, when it comes to making bank on your metal, it isn’t only steel metal that counts. Really, any scrap metal you have lying around has the potential to earn you some money. The biggest difference in which metals are worth more money and which will earn you less is whether they are ferrous. Metals of the non-ferrous variety are the cash cows for making money scrapping metal. Some common non-ferrous metals include stainless steel, aluminum, copper and brass. Although you won’t make as much money on ferrous metals, recycling them still helps the environment, declutters your home and will give you just a bit of spending money, so it’s still worthwhile. To make a decent amount of money, you want to aim for the following types of metal. These are your money makers:

  • Stainless Steel: Cookware, other types of kitchen accessories, food containers, water filters.
  • Aluminum: Cores from air-conditioning units, cylinders out of engines, wheels off a car, drinking cans, etc.
  • Copper: Any old copper wiring from inside a house (cleaned), electrical cords, phones.
  • Brass: Machinery parts, valves, pumps, old worn out plumbing joints, sink taps, etc.

Pro tip: If you aren’t sure where your local scrapyard is located, check out the iScrapApp. Before gathering up metal, though, here’s a way to tell if a metal is non-ferrous or ferrous. (Remember, you want to aim for non-ferrous, ideally, but some compensation is better than nothing so always recycle, even ferrous metals!) Here’s the trick: Hold a magnet up against the metal in question. If the magnet sticks, you have a ferrous metal. If it doesn’t, congrats you have some non-ferrous scraps to cash in.

7.) Try RecycleBank

RecycleBank is an amazing program that lets you earn points by making and then subsequently keeping various pledges. These pledges could include a variety of actions that help the community or environment in some way. For example, you could earn points by joining a community garden. Eventually, you can cash in these points and redeem them at local stores. One example of this is using 50 points to earn either a $1 or $5 coupon for a local ice cream shop. Although it won’t make you any money personally, you can earn points in a similar manner by signing up with TerraCycle. It is an organization that works with benefactors and companies to organize hard-to-recycle items, like plastic toothpaste tubes, potato chips or single-serve baby food. By accumulating points via recycling, you simultaneously earn points for a school or other non-profit organization. You are awarded points based on the weight of items, two points for seven pounds. Once you reach 1,000 pounds, you can redeem $10 for the organization of your choice.

Pro tip: It might not make you much money, but joining RecycleBank is a great way to earn points and eventual savings simply for helping the environment. In addition, TerraCycle will allow you to help a worthwhile organization simply by getting rid of your clutter. It’s a win, win!

8.) Trade Tired Tech For Spending Money

We all have countless old, decrepit devices lying around our houses. These include once cool and innovative tech like phones, watches, tablets, etc. that are now outdated and unusable. Instead of just letting these sit around taking up space, why not use Decluttr to get rid of them and earn yourself some spending money, simultaneously? Decluttr takes care of it all, letting you sit back and make money on tech you aren’t using anymore. They pay through PayPal, which means a safe transaction. Amazon Trade-in is another option that will allow you to trade in your old tech for new gift cards.

9.) Turn Your Wine Corks Into Spending Money

Here’s another interesting tip to make money, collect your used wine corks and sell them on eBay. You can actually sell lots of 10, 20 or more on eBay and interest many potential buyers. Some people have even had success selling empty toilet paper rolls! The reason why you can make money off these unexpected and mundane items is the fact that many crafters use them to turn into interesting new art or decor pieces.

Pro tip: The fact that you can sell wine corks and empty toilet paper rolls indicates that people sometimes buy odd things on eBay. It’s worth perusing the site occasionally just to see if you might have anything else of interest just lying around your house.

10.) Turn a Working A/C or Fridge Into Cash

In some cases, you can make money off working refrigerators or AC units. If you happen to have extra appliances you aren’t using, check with your local utility company. In some areas of the country, they will come get your unneeded item and give you a cash gift card.

Pro tip: Not all unity companies offer this type of reward, so check with your local companies to be sure if this is applicable where you live. Also, if you know someone in need of these necessary items, you could donate it to them or a charity as well.

Making Money, Differently

Now more than ever with the post shut-down economy, it’s important to find creative ways to make money. Recycling things you aren’t using anymore is a great way to do just that. Of course, there are other ways to boost your income that have nothing to do with recycling, such as increasing your marketable skills and adding a side hustle. However, recycling is a great win, win way to make some extra money that helps you and the environment.

In case you aren’t exactly convinced the planet needs saving, consider reading the Waste Crisis, which explains why recycling is something that is so vastly important to the future of our beloved planet. If you complete any of the recommendations listed above, you will be not only padding your wallet a bit but will be doing your part to improve the planet as well.

Share this article with others so that we can all learn more about how we can work together towards a better tomorrow and a healthier earth.

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