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10 Ways on How to Earn Money Recycling

10 Ways on How to Earn Money Recycling
Ashley Sutphin Sep 10, 2019
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

how to earn money recyclingA lot of benefits come with earning extra money.

Most of us feel we could benefit from having even $100 extra a month beyond what we earn with our typical job or primary source of income.

Even earning a little extra money each week or month means you’re adding a new income stream to your life. 

There are unique ways that don’t take a big time commitment that you can turn to as a way to earn extra money.

One option is recycling.

There are numerous ways you can earn money by recycling if you know a few things beforehand.

Reasons You Might Need Extra Money

Some of the reasons you might want or need to earn extra money include:

Pay Off Debt Faster

Many people in America are saddled with debt.

Two primary sources of debt are student loans and credit cards.

It can feel impossible to escape the burden of these types of debt, but it doesn’t have to be.

Along with putting a budget and spending plan in place, a great way to eliminate debt faster is to earn extra income.

If you can add just $100 a month to the payments you owe, you’re going to eliminate your debt faster, and you’re going to pay less in interest.

Reach Your Financial Goals Faster

Whatever your financial goals are if you earn extra income, you’re going to get there faster. Goals can include saving for a house or car, putting aside an emergency fund or breaking the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

You might also want to start a retirement account, and again, you can do this with very little extra money each month.

You’re Less Reliant On One Income Stream

Being reliant on just one stream of income can be worrisome.

What happens if you’re fired or laid off for example?

Having several smaller sources of income can help you feel more financially stable and confident.

If you feel financially confident, you may also be willing to take more chances such as beginning to build the business idea you’ve been considering.

Making Money Recycling

When you hear the term “making money by recycling,” it probably sounds crazy, but it isn’t.

If you can find ways to make money recycling, it’s a win-win.

First, you’re helping the environment, and second, you’re bringing in extra income in a simple way that’s generally not very time-consuming and won’t interfere with your day job.

You already have most of what you need to make money recycling, and you’ll feel good about it.

While it may sound like an unconventional way to earn extra money, it’s really not.

You have what you need to make it work, and it’s a side hustle that’s in line with a sustainable lifestyle.

So how can you make money recycling?

Recycle Aluminum Cans

You may have negative connotations about being the person who gathers aluminum cans to make extra money, but let that go.

It can be a real way to make money with no initial startup costs, but you need to know how to go about doing it.

First, how much are aluminum cans worth? According to the iScrapp App, which is an app that helps facilitate scrap metal recycling, the current average price for aluminum cans is $0.34 a pound.

You can trade in different types of cans for cash, including soda and seltzer cans, beer cans, juice cans, and aluminum food cans.

If you use the iScrapApp, it gives you a list of the yards around your local area that will accept cans. It will tell you where they are, when they’re open and it will provide a yard profile

The yard profile includes user submissions about how much other people were paid per pound of material they brought for recycling.

A few things to know about recycling cans and pricing:

  • Aluminum recycling prices are based on the current commodities price of the material
  • Recyclers usually pay half what the current commodities price is per pound
  • Aluminum prices are often negotiable

Similarly, you can also get paid to recycle bottles.

Recycling bottles and cans pay more in some states than others.

Some states in the U.S. have what are called bottle bills or beverage container deposit laws. There are ten states with such laws.

These are laws that provide a deposit-refund system for turning in bottles and cans.

How does this work?

When a retailer buys drinks from a distributor, a deposit is paid for every container bought.

The consumer pays that deposit when they buy the drink.

Then, when they return that bottle or can to a store or redemption center, they receive a refund.

At that point, the distributor refunds the deposit to the retailer.

If you live in a state with deposit laws, you can make a fair amount of money by collecting bottles and cans.

You can find a complete list of states with these bottle and can refund programs, as well as details of what’s accepted by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

So where can you search for aluminum cans and recyclable bottles?

  • Concert and performance venues
  • Festival grounds
  • Homes of people you know

Recycling Scrap Metal

Bottles and cans are some items you can recycle for cash, but there are other types of materials you can recycle as well.

Scrap metal is one of the most sought-after recyclables. In particular, steel is something that can be recycled countless times without the integrity of the material being impacted.

Along with steel, there are a lot of other types of scrap metal you can find and recycle. A few examples include:

  • Copper wiring or electrical cords
  • Old aluminum care wheels
  • A/C unit parts
  • Brass sink taps
  • Old brass plumbing components
  • Stainless steel water filters
  • Stainless steel cookware and kitchen items

Again, you can take a look at iScrap App to find places near you where you can bring scrap metal and get paid.

Old Computers

Most of us have at least one old computer lying around, whether it’s a desktop or a laptop, and you can make money from these devices.

If you have the knowledge or you know someone who does, you can have old computers repaired and then sell them at a discounted price as refurbished.

Another way to make money from recycling old computers is to sell the individual parts.

You can look online at sites like eBay and see what computer parts are going for and what’s most in-demand.

Many people go online to find the parts to either make a computer or repair a computer.

If you plan to do this, you can also ask friends and family if they have any old computers you can sell.

Some scrap yards will also pay for computers and computer parts.

Some websites specialize in taking old computers and smartphones as well as other electronic devices and paying for them.

Then, they’ll repair them and resell them.

Options include:

  • Gazelle: This is a website where you can go to buy certified pre-owned devices and sell your items for cash. Gazelle buys iPhones, MacBooks, iPads, and more. The way Gazelle works is simple. You get an offer and ship your item for free. You can then be paid by Amazon Gift Card, check or PayPal. Gazelle also has kiosks at certain locations so you can get cash immediately.
  • Amazon: The mega-retailer has a trade-in program where you can trade-in your Amazon devices and then receive a new one. As well as device trade-ins, you can trade in cell phones, gaming equipment, books and more. When you trade in eligible items, you get Amazon Gift Cards.
  • NextWorth: On this site, you receive cash for your old devices. You start by going to the site to get a free quote. If you like the offer you receive, you can print out your shipping label for free shipment. Then, you drop the package at UPS, and you can track the progress using the My Trades page. When the company receives your device, they inspect it and send your payment through PayPal or by check.

Another electronics resale program is called EcoCell. EcoCell will recycle all kinds of old electronic items, including:

  • Cell phones
  • Smartphones
  • iPods
  • iPads
  • Tablets
  • Chargers
  • Handheld game systems
  • MP3 players

You can take devices to a drop-off center, and then EcoCell determines their value or resale value. They will then pay you.

Old Cardboard Boxes

Think about how many boxes you get daily.

Most of us have more than we know what to do with, and you can sell them for extra money.

BoxCycle is a site that will pay you for your old boxes.

With BoxCycle, you list what you have available, and it’s free and fast to do. Then, BoxCycle handles everything else, including advertising, answering questions people might have, and collecting the payments.

When someone orders the boxes you have for sale, you verify their availability and select a time for pickup.

BoxCycle gives the buyer a pickup slip, and then your money is released by the site once the pickup is complete.

Benefits of using something like BoxCycle to make money recycling include:

  • It’s not binding and it’s free to list boxes
  • It doesn’t take a significant time commitment
  • Orders are binding, and if a buyer makes a change in their order they are penalized

Join Recyclebank

Recyclebank is a site that pays you for recycling.

When you join, if your city has a waste management company who has joined the program, you receive points for recycling. You can also earn points online if you learn how to be more sustainable.

Your points can then be exchanged for local deals and savings on different products.

Get Rid of Old Craft Supplies

If you have unused craft supplies lying around or perhaps old items that could be used for crafts, there may be a market for them.

Instead, of throwing your old craft supplies away, recycle them—for a profit.

To give you an idea of where you could do this, visit sites like is a company based in Michigan where you can go to buy, sell, or donate your arts and crafts supplies.

You can post an ad for free in just a few minutes and find buyers for your supplies.

Another site with a similar concept is called The ReCrafting Co.

The ReCrafting Co takes previously owned unused crafting inventories.

Some of the items they take include quilting and sewing fabric, lace and ribbons, yarn, scrapbooking materials, beads and much more.

Get Rid of Your Old Appliances

If you have old appliances lying around, get rid of them.

One way you can recycle old appliances is to donate them for a tax break.

While you’re not necessarily making cash when you go with this option, we all love shaving some money from our tax bills.

Another option is to sell the entire appliance online using Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or something similar.

You can sell the parts to local repair shops or sell them online, or you can sell the scrap metal of the appliance.

There are also around 18 states where you can participate in an appliance recycling program.

In states with these programs, if your appliance is still working, you can arrange to have it picked up for free, and then you receive a financial reward.

Wine Corks

Do you drink wine? If so, did you know there’s a marketplace for your old corks?

People buy old wine corks for various reasons, and primarily to do craft projects.

One of the best places to go to sell old wine corks is eBay, and while you’re at it, you may be able to sell the bottles too because again, they are used in crafting projects.

If you are going to sell something like wine bottles online, make sure you know how much to charge for shipping so you don’t lose money.

If you’re selling corks, you’ll find people sell them in batches of anywhere from 20 to 500, and you can get around 10 cents for each.

Sell Your Clothes

Fast fashion has led to a lot of environmental concerns during the making of these items all the way through to their disposal.

Combat the wastefulness of fast fashion while also making money when you sell your old clothes instead of throwing them away.

Poshmark is a great way to sell used clothing.

Poshmark was launched in 2011, and it allows people to list their clothing, shoes, and other items and have people buy them directly.

It’s relatively simple.

You download the Poshmark app, and you then upload photos of the items you’re selling.

You create a listing, and you wait for someone to buy it. You then ship the item once it sells.

Poshmark does charge a commission, but you keep the majority of your proceeds.

If you’re going to sell on Poshmark, a few tips:

  • Take your time with the photos and ensure they look great and accurately depict the item you’re listing.
  • Price your items well. Take a look around at similar items to see the price at which you should try and keep your items. There is a lot of competition on the app, and you want to make sure you are keeping that in mind.
  • Participate in the conversations on the app. What’s unique about Poshmark is that users can write to each other, so get to know people and respond to their questions when they have them.
  • Many people come to Poshmark because they want to feel like they’re getting a great deal. As part of that, add a bit to the price when you list it, so there’s room for you to come down.

Some people have found full-time jobs selling on Poshmark.

As a note, Poshmark does tend to be more geared toward designer items and the resale of high-end clothes and shows, so be aware of that.

Poshmark isn’t the only option, however.

Other ways you can recycle your old clothing and make money include:

  • Tradesy: With Tradesy, you upload photos of your items, but then the company will make your photos look great, so you don’t have to worry about that. You set your prices, and then Tradesy takes a commission. Tradesy also sends you a pre-paid kit for shipping, which is another bonus if you don’t want to spend a lot of time selling your items.
  • thredUp: This option is another way you can make it simple on yourself when you sell your clothes. You order a kit from thredUp, which they call a cleanout kit. You then fill it with your clothes, and thredUp decides which ones they’re going to keep. They then pay you based on the selling price for each item. If you have a unique item, they will pay you on consignment. If they don’t accept your clothes, they will donate them to charity, or you can pay around $10 to get them back.
  • VarageSale: VarageSale is essentially a virtual garage sale. You sell your items to people in your local area, so you don’t have to worry about shipping and the other technicalities of selling your items online.

Your Hair

Okay, selling your hair may seem like the strangest way to make extra money of all, but it’s a real thing, and it could be an option for you.

You can go to sites like When you’re there, you can enter the length of your hair in inches, your hair thickness and color, and whether your hair is virgin or non-virgin.

You can then calculate the value of your hair, and you can post an ad for it.

As with eBay and other similar, sites you can then wait for someone to make an offer.

Printer Cartridges

You may have a stack of old printer cartridges sitting around, and you can recycle them.

You have some options and one is to go to your local office supply retail store and ask if they pay for used or empty ink cartridges.

Most also have it listed on their website whether or not they will take old cartridges and if so, whether they will pay you for them.

Sell Books

Finally, if you have old books as well as games, DVDs or CDs, head over to Decluttr.

On Decluttr, you can sell old books.

You can either enter the barcode manually to start selling, or you can use their free app, which has a barcode scanner, and your item will be valued.

With the barcode scanner, your valuation is free and instant.

There aren’t auctions or fees, and your shipping is free and insured.

According to the site, more than five million customers have used Decluttr to sell their stuff.

Decluttr also takes Legos by the pound and various technology devices.

Old Car Batteries

99% of car batteries are recycled across the U.S., and you can get paid for old car batteries yourself. You can also find opportunities to recycle AA and AAA batteries and get paid as well.

To find places that take old car batteries, get in touch with your local auto parts shop.

Not everyone will pay, however, so you will have to confirm.

AutoZone is one example of an auto parts store that has a recycling program for batteries.

You may also be able to find someone locally who will pay you for old batteries, or junkyards may pay as well.

The United Battery organization pays cash for what they call junk batteries, including not only automotive batteries but industrial batteries too.

Final Thoughts

Most of us could find benefits in having extra cash, and fortunately, there are ways to make that extra cash simply by getting rid of items you already have around the house, or perhaps your friends and family have lying around.

Go through your home, garage, and any other area where you store things and look for clothing, books, and other recyclable items.

You can also even look through your trash for everything from wine corks to aluminum cans and find you have good earning opportunities all around you.


Ashley Sutphin

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