Earn a Green Living: Recycle for Money

Finding a great job in today’s market takes a bit of ingenuity, and green jobs are becoming hotter than ever. Did you know that you can actually make money by recycling ordinary household materials like metal, glass, paper, small electronics, and much more?

You can earn a green living by focusing in on things that you can recycle for money, collecting them, and turning them in to the appropriate agency for cash.

While earning money for recycling, you not only help yourself, you also help the planet and help to keep your state and city clean and beautiful.

Here are some of the top ways to earn a green living by specializing in things that you can recycle for money:


Before you start collecting paper, check the market for recycled paper in your specific city or county. In recent years, the market for recycled paper has fallen off significantly, mostly because so many households have started recycling paper as a matter of routine. The market is so glutted in fact that in some areas the city actually loses money by encouraging paper recycling: That is, it costs the city more to recycle the paper than it would to throw it away.


Recycling glass for cash is labor intensive but it can be lucrative. Ask at various businesses if you can have their discarded glass containers, and then invest in a glass crusher. You can watch a video on how the crusher worksat YouTube. One good place to buy a glass crusher is CompactorsInc. The advantage of owning a crusher is that you can store much more glass than you could without one. Keep in mind that you will need a truck to transport the glass you collect and crush as well.


The demand for recycled aluminum is usually pretty high, but you need to know which cans fetch the highest amount of money in your specific area. In the U.S. alone, 163 millions cans are recycled on a daily basis. Tin cans are not usually in as high demand as aluminum ones, and they are heavy and tend to have more of a smell from the contents. If you live in a state that places a deposit fee on aluminum drink cans, you are in luck, but keep in mind that there will be a limit (at most sites) of how many cans you can recycle at one time. So you’ll have to make multiple trips.

Small Electronics

How many people do you know who just toss out their old laptops, external hard drives, calculators, monitors, or other small electronics the minute they become obsolete?

You can turn these in for money at Gazelle.com and the money can be substantial. You can get up to $100 or even more for a discarded laptop, $50 for a handheld device, $15 for a broken cell phone, and much more. Gazelle sends you a shipper once you get a quote for your small electronic item, then cuts you a check or deposits money into your PayPal account once you return it to them.

Cell Phones

You can turn in several cell phones at a time for cash at CellForCash, and if you make a habit of this, it can add up over time. You find the type of phone on the Cell for Cash website and they ship you a box or envelope. Once you send them the phone (or phones), they send you the money or deposit it into your PayPal account.

Recycle Bank

Recycle Bank is an organization that hands out gift certificates and pharmaceutical discounts for recycling a wide range of things you might normally throw away. While you won’t make a living at Recycle Bank alone, you can supplement the living you make elsewhere pretty well by participating.

Structural Elements in Old Buildings

Green construction is gaining in popularity all over the U.S., but in some cities the trend is red hot. Anything over 50 years old recovered from a demolished home or remodeled home might be worth real cash. If you have access to such materials, don’t just toss them out. You can sell old mantels, woodwork, door knobs, doors, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, tubs and sinks, wall tiles, siding, weather vanes, and much more, to people who are building and looking for that period’s look. Even weathered barn siding is in great demand in some parts of the country, for use as flooring and in furniture construction.


Recycled clothing is in such high demand right now that second hand shops and charities are running short of it on a regular basis. You can sell old clothing online, at swap meets or flea markets, or at yard sales. You can also sell squares of recycled fabric on eBay, for quilting. Anything can be broken down into quilting squares for resale: old blankets, curtains, towels, shirts, jeans, wool coats, sheets, etc. When breaking down unsellable used clothing into quilting squares, always remove all buttons for resale as well. Some old buttons (such as those made from mother of pearl, Bakelite, or tin) are very valuable in and of themselves.


If you are artistic by nature, consider creating an attractive craft product made of cast-off materials and market your crafts at local farmer’s markets and craft fairs, or online at websites like Etsy. The market for clothing and handbags made from items that have been discarded is especially good. Other ideas include birdhouses (made from almost anything), planters, furniture, and art objects crafted from ‘found’ items.


Every day, Americans throw away valuable items that can be recycled for cash or resold or reused in some way. All it takes is a bit of hard work and imagination to pick up other people’s trash and turn it into real treasure. By finding things you can recycle for money, you not only get the satisfaction of working for yourself, you also make a real contribution to your community and the environment. What could be better than that?

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