5 Trash Bound Items You Can Turn To Money Now

Most recent by James Cai

You can turn trash into cash. It happens every day. Everyday people earn either hundreds of US dollars or some beer money on the side, from waste. You can even decide to make this a full-time income source!

Back in 2010, the average waste produced by each American per day was 4.5 pounds. Fast forward to 2014. The U.S. was producing 258 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW).

The U.S. recycled only 34.6 percent (i.e., 89 million tons) of its MSW. 33 million tons of trash was burned to recover energy. And then 136 million tons ended in landfills.

How can you turn your waste into money? Let’s dig for some cash in your trash.

Cash Out on Old Clothes and Shoes

Got any idea how much clothes Americans throw away every year? On a per-head count, every year, more than 68 pounds of clothing go to waste!

In fact, ten percent of the wastes in cities like New York and Chicago is textile. In the U.S., 6.3 percent of wastes are from clothes. According to Forbes, American families spend an average of $1,700 on clothing items yearly.

Americans spend significantly on clothing. Psychology Today says that Americans spend more than $100 billion on shoes, watches, and jewelry. That’s more than they spend on higher education.

The U.S. apparel market is the world’s largest clothes market. It values at $359 billion in 2016.

Every year, 85 percent of clothes you throw in the trash goes to landfills. That’s 13 million tons of textiles annually. You can reduce this waste by selling your old textiles – plus the cash reward in it for you!

The U.S. clothes resale industry stands at $4 billion in revenue. So, if you have old, trash-bound clothes, you can sell them to:

  • thredUp: Handles everything for you. Request their bag and send your items. Whatever they don’t take is donated to charity. You’ll earn 80 percent of your clothes’ resale value, which you can get as shopping credits, or via PayPal.
  • Material World: Get gift cards in exchange for your designer clothes. Use their pricing estimator to find out which items to send in. Material World would send you a quote. They’ll also send you a free trade-in bag once you’ve filled their form. Send them your items and receive an electronic gift card.
    Ensure to go through their guidelines before using this service. They are highly selective.

  • The Real Real: Pays 70 percent of the price of your clothes once they sell them. Just sign up and tell them the number of items you’ll be sending them. You’ll receive a shipping label from them. On receipt, they’d authenticate your clothes, photograph, and then put prices on them.

    If you’re sending ten items, they offer a White Glove Service, where they send a Merchandise Manager to pick up your clothes from your home.

There are lots of places you can sell your old clothes online. Try Tradesy, ThreadFlip, and Poshmark.

Turn Your Trash into Cash

Nothing is more trash-bound than trash itself. Scrap metal. Junk mail. Old cooking oil. Cardboard boxes. Wine corks and bottles. The list goes on.


Looking to turn your garbage disposal day into payday? Here’s how:


  • Wine corks and bottles: List wine corks and bottles for DIY artists and projects on eBay. Make sure to list the bottles and wine corks separately to maximize profit.

    Corks sell for 10 cents a piece and bottles for 50 cents. Fancy wine bottles (like cobalt blue bottles), would sell for $5 a bottle. You’ll find bottles listed in batches of ten or twelve; corks are in ten.

    You may prefer to sell your wine corks to Yemm & Hart. Contact them to get a quote.

  • Scrap and pieces of metals: If you gather enough of them, you can sell off a bunch of scraps for extra bucks. Old locks, copper wiring, metal pipes, etc. You can sell them on GoScrap.
  • Miscellaneous renewable and reusable items: You can earn points with Recyclebank by helping recyclers haul recyclables from your community. You’d then redeem the points for cash rewards. You could also earn from Box Tops.
  • Cardboard boxes: You can sell off your used or unused cardboard boxes at Boxcycle. Create a free listing and be found when someone in your area wants the boxes. They pay via PayPal.
  • Cooking oil: If you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, you could turn your old cooking oil into money. EvironTek collects your cooking oil and converts them into biodiesel. You’ll earn $1 for every gallon and extra an $25 if you make referrals.
  • Junk mails: The Small Business Knowledge Center pays to collect your junk mail! They specifically want correspondences relating to mortgage, lending, insurance, travel industries, credit, mortgage, financial, banking, and telecoms.

    All you have to do is sign up and become a consumer panelist. You’ll earn points for each mail you send them and redeem those points for cash in the form of gift cards. The Better Business Bureau rates The Small Business Knowledge Center A+.

Now you know. Nothing is a waste. Trash is cash.

The Alchemy of Turning Aluminum to Gold

If you knew the value of used aluminum (i.e., soda and beer) cans, you wouldn’t throw them away. OK, you wouldn’t turn them into gold – the metal – but you can earn money from them.


In fact, the Aluminum Association says that “Aluminum is the most recyclable of all materials. Discarded aluminum is more valuable than any other item in the recycling bin.”


Every year $800 million is paid out by the aluminum industry for recycled cans. The U.S. aluminum recycling industry is worth $1 billion.


Believe it or not, Americans throw away a billion dollar worth of aluminum cans to landfills every other year. Talk of literally wasting money.


Ten states in the U.S., by law, set the price of aluminum cans at a minimum of $0.05 to $0.1 a piece. These laws are called “bottle laws.”


Outside of the “bottle law” states, you’ll be battling the forces of demand and supply. Based on price estimates from Scrap Sale USA, you’d be selling over 30 cans for a paltry $0.35. Or less.

Image credit: Waste 360


In states with “bottle laws,” you’d make between $1.5 to $3 for 30 aluminum cans. That’s a staggering 430 to 850 percent more profit than you’d earn in other states.


States with the “bottle bill” include


  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont


If you live in one of the states above, you could enjoy $400 to $200 extra income by collecting aluminum cans. And if you make this your business, you could be earning a whopping $30 per hour!


You can find local aluminum recyclers in your state or area on yellow pages. Use websites like Recycling Center as well.

Cash from Used or Unused Toners and Ink Cartridges

Image Credit: Alibaba


If you work from home or run a small business, then you’re probably consuming a ton of ink or toner cartridges. Instead of sending those used toners and ink cartridges to landfills, turn them to cash.


You can earn quick cash from Evolve Recycling with your used ink and toner cartridges. They pay via check. They have a price list that shows you exactly what you’ll earn, but you must send in a minimum of 20 items to qualify.


If you have unused toner and ink cartridges, Toner Connect gives you the best market price. The selling process is as simple as counting one, two, three. And your money will be paid even before you ship your item. Find out more here.

Breed Dollars from Worms

Image credit: Pixabay


I almost heard you scream.




Oh, yea. Worms.


I know. Those wriggly creatures live in your rotten trash or dirty mud.


But they can leave some cash in your account. All yours to spend.


People farm these wriggly creatures. And it’s lucrative. But you have many ways to earn money from them. You can make money from collecting worms from your trash and natural environment.


Worms have many uses, but fish baiting is the most common. Gardeners also use worms to fertilize and aerate their soils. Worms serve as pet food for small animals like snakes, birds, and fish.


Worms could sell for about $1.5 a dozen. Prices depend on your worms’ size, type, and the market you serve. On Amazon, for example, 300 red worms sell for $17.


According to WormsEtc, the U.S. Postal Service has the best survival rates for worms. So if you plan on selling online, the USPS is your best shipping option. Just like on Amazon, you can also sell on eBay, or find other ways to market your wriggly creatures.

To Wrap It Up

You probably have more options now than you can act on. Start with one. Earn cash from it. Take on another one.


If you have a bunch of toners that you haven’t used, let Toner Connect pay you cash. That’s some quick money without stress. Now, identify other items here you can sell. Repeat until you have turned all your trash into cash.



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