Turning Trash to Cash: How to Get Paid to Recycle

You may not feel like a superhero when you bring a recycling bin out to the curb, but you are in fact aiding in saving the world. The small act of recycling your recyclable materials reduces landfill waste and pollution, conserves resources and helps to keep our world clean and livable. Hooray for you!

So what happens if we don’t recycle? Well, among other negative effects, we will literally run out of landfill space and our water and air will grow more and more polluted as time marches on. It would be a bleak-looking future, my friends.

Still need more of a personal incentive for recycling? That’s ok. (Even if you’re already an avid recycler, wouldn’t it be nice to be rewarded for your good deeds?) Recycling companies, who are dedicated to keeping our planet beautiful, are fully aware that money is one of the best incentives out there. You might be surprised by the number of ways that you can turn recyclables into cash. And what better way is there to make money than by doing your part for the environment?

We all know that if you have a plethora of aluminum cans or glass bottles, you can take them to your local recycling center in exchange for change, but there are lots of other things that you can recycle too, and many of these recyclables can turn out to be much more profitable. Let’s take a look at some lesser-known methods for recycling and making money while doing so.

Cell Phones

  • Cash4Berry: use this site’s phone finder tool to find out exactly how much cash you can get back for your specific phone’s model.
  • UsedPhone.com: use this site to post a free ad to sell your old phone.
  • Cell for Cash: find your phone on their list, submit your information, and send your phone to receive the assigned cash value! They also offer free shipping.
  • Electronics for Cash: appraise your phone using their site and send it in for free. You can receive payment in many ways, from cash to PayPal to charitable donations.

Other Electronics

  • BuyMyTronics.com: this site will buy your new, used or broken camcorders, digital cameras, GPS’s and more. Their system makes selling easy and pays you quickly.
  • YouRenew.com: here you can get cash for electronics that have value or easily recycle those that don’t. Sell big items likes laptops and eReaders or small items like calculators and mp3 players. Go green, send items for free and get paid easily at YouRenew.
  • Gazelle: sell or recycle electronics like blu-ray players, desktops, e-readers, gaming consoles, camera lenses and more. Gazelle ranks #24 in INC Magazine’s 500 fastest growing companies in America.

Bonus Tip: Don’t have any old electronics to sell? Try checking with local businesses or schools to see if they are upgrading their systems. If so, you may be able to recycle their old models for cash!


  • Cardboard Boxes: Have you moved recently? If so, are you hoarding a bunch of perfectly good cardboard boxes you may not need again? Head to Box Cycle to sell your cardboard boxes for cash!
  • Ink Cartridges: get top dollar for your empty inkjet and laser printer cartridges. It’s easy and free to ship! You could also try Advantage Cartridge or eCycleGroup.
  • Golf Balls: if you’re an avid golfer, chances are you either have a multitude of golf balls or you find old forgotten balls in muddy or wooded areas. However you collect them, use these extra balls to make some extra cash.
  • Make Money by Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: this site actually pays you to reduce home energy use. All you have to do is sign up, create a profile, measure your home energy usage for the past year (and subsequently each month), reduce your energy use and collect what you earn from PayPal.
  • Make Money Off of Your Trash: in their constant effort to eliminate the idea of waste, Terracycle, one of the fastest growing green companies in the world, has created national recycling systems for previously non-recyclable items. Be sure to check out Terracycle to find out how to turn your trash into cash.

Also, as a final tip, be sure to heed this advice from eHow:

Donations of old goods may be tax deductible, saving your money even if they don’t make a direct profit. Check with your accountant or the revenue service in your area to see if any of your recycling donations are deductible.

What are some memorable ways that you’ve recycled something, maybe out of the ordinary, and managed to make a profit? We’d love to hear your best stories. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!

Photo credit: wanderingone, sdbarnard, Steve Steed, nickwheeleroz