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10 Ways to Turn Your Trash into Cash

10 Ways to Turn Your Trash into CashBy Holly Reisem Hanna

As a youngster, I was extremely money motivated. In fact, my friend and I would come up with new money making schemes all the time. Besides making and selling crafts, perfume, and lemonade, we would also dig through the nearby office park’s dumpers in search of soda cans. Most of the time we would collect the cans and trade in them for money, so we could buy candy from the store. But one summer we collected thousands of soda can tabs and traded them in for a one night stay at a hotel (don’t worry, my friend’s mom chaperoned us on our stay).

It’s really crazy how many ways you can make money, if you try.

If you’re looking to turn your garbage into cash — here are 10 ways to get started.

1. Aluminum Cans

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about making money from your trash. In fact, “According to the Aluminum Association, Americans earn nearly $1 billion a year from recycling aluminum cans”. The national average is $0.50 per pound and it takes about 34 cans to equal a pound. While you’re not going to get rich from recycling your aluminum cans, it is an easy way to add some cash to your wallet while cleaning up your community.

Check out the Alcoa site to find a recycling center near you.

2. Cardboard Boxes

Boxcycle is an online marketplace where you can sell your new and used cardboard boxes for cash (I wish I knew about this last month when we were selling Girl Scout Cookies — I had a ton of boxes)! To get started create a free listing on Boxcycle. Then when someone in your area is searching for boxes, you’ll confirm the availability of boxes, and schedule a pickup time. Once the buyer has picked up the boxes and verifies the sale, Boxcycle will credit your account with the money. Payments are made via PayPal and can be requested anytime.

3. Cooking Oil

Did you know that you can turn your old cooking oil into cash? Well, you can. There’s a company called EnviroTek that will come and collect your used cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel. The pay is $1 per gallon and if you refer a restaurant grease account they’ll send you an additional $25. Only downside, this company only collects in Vermont and New Hampshire … however, you may be able to find a company in your area that has a similar program.

4. Electronics

Have you just upgraded your smartphone, laptop, or tablet? Then sell your old electronics on Gazelle and make some easy cash. Simply find your gadget on their website, answer a few questions, and ship it off for free with their pre-paid envelopes. Payments are made via check, Amazon gift card, or PayPal. Gazelle has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

10 Ways to Turn Your Trash into Cash5. Junk Mail

Learn to love your junk mail. The Small Business Knowledge Center will pay you for your junk mail that pertains to the insurance, financial, mortgage, banking, lending, credit, telecommunications, and travel industries. Simply sign up to become a consumer panelist and then send your qualifying mail in pre-paid envelopes weekly. For each piece of mail that you send in you’ll earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards. The Small Business Knowledge Center has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

6. Receipts

Don’t throw away those receipts! Believe it or not there are companies who will use for your receipts for market research reports. Here are a couple of  smartphone apps that will award you points and/or money for your scanned receipts.

Checkout 51 is a mobile app where you can earn money by redeeming offers when you grocery shop. Every Thursday the site uploads new offers. Simply check them out, purchase products on your grocery list, and snap a picture of your receipt. Once your account hits $20 you can request payment via check. This app can be used by U.S. and Canadian residents. Checkout 51 is available for both Android and Apple operating systems and it has a customer rating of 4.5 stars.

GrouponSnap is similar to Checkout 51, GrouponSnap allows you to get cash-back when you shop for groceries. Check out the weekly offers and snap a picture of your receipt for the items you purchase. Once your account hits $20 you can request payment via check. You can also earn $1 for each friend you refer who redeems an offer. GrouponSnap is available for both Android and Apple operating systems and it has a customer rating of 4.5 stars.

Ibotta is an iPhone and Android application that you can use to earn money when you go shopping. Before you head out on a shopping trip complete tasks relating to your favorite brands and companies. Next go shopping at stores like Target and Walgreens and take photos of your receipts. Once your transaction has been verified, your account will be credited with the specified cash back amount. Payments are made via PayPal and can be transferred as soon as you earn $5.

Receipt Hog is a smartphone app where you take photos of your receipts from any grocery store, super-center, club store, dollar store, drug store, convenience mart, beauty supply, or pet supply store. Once receipts are inputted into the system, Receipt Hog will award you with virtual coins that can be traded in for cash via PayPal or an Amazon gift cards. The amount of coins you earn per receipt depends on how much your total bill is. You can submit 20 receipts per week and trade 1,000 coins in for $5.

7. Reclaimed Wood

Have you just remodeled your home? Do you flip houses? Or do you have an old barn that needs to be removed? Then consider selling your old reclaimed wood for cash. Antique Beams and Boards will pay you money for your ash, elm, hickory, maple, walnut, and white oak wood. To get a quote shoot them an email with length, sizes, type of wood if known, and photos. Antique Beams and Boards has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

8. Scrap Metal

When I think of scrap metal, I think of steel mills. But the truth is most things that are metal (including cars, bikes, appliances, cans, file cabinets, BBQ grills, etc.) can be recycled for cash. To find out how much you can make, go to and fill out their online form or give them a buzz. Scrap yards are located throughout the US.

9. Used Ink Cartridges

Working from home you go through a good amount of ink cartridges … but did you know that can you sell those old cartridges for cash?! At the eCycle Group you can send in your used ink cartridges (and cell phones) for quick cash. Just sign up on their website and a pre-paid envelope will be sent to your home. Just ship your items back and get paid via check. One thing I really like about the eCycle Group is that they have a price list, so you know exactly how much your empty cartridges are worth. Please note, you must send in 20 items at at time, so you may need to save your cartridges up for an extended time period before you can ship them off.

1o. Wine Corks

Do you like wine? Do sell wine for the Traveling Vineyard? Then sell those old wine corks for money! Yemm & Hart will purchase your old wine corks at 1/2¢ per cork. However, the minimum weight per package is 13.79 lbs. Payments will be made via check within 45 days of receipt of package.

For more ways to recycle for cash — check out 111 online platforms to sell your stuff for money.

What unique and interesting ways have you made money?

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7 Responses to “10 Ways to Turn Your Trash into Cash”

  1. 1
    Corina Ramos says:

    Thanks for sharing these ways to make some extra money…I didn’t know about some of these…especially the cooking oil.

    Have a great week!

  2. 2
    Shanna says:

    Excellent post. I am surprised to learn about several of the ways that you have listed to make extra money.

  3. 3
    Wubetu says:

    I am ethiopian,how do Can I use the opportunities?

  4. 4
    anonymous says:

    Thank you. I am going to do the receipt one and the bottle recycling.😀

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