Whether you need to boost your budget quickly or simply want to capture every potential dollar, finding ways to turn your trash into cash is a boon. With the right approaches, you not only prevent items from hitting a landfill; you also gather up a tidy profit. In the end, there are plenty of ways to turn trash into cash. Here are ten options that are worth exploring.

1. Sell Your Metal Cans

Some scrap yards accept aluminum and steel cans. If you have a location that does in your area, you could sell any cans you gather from food packaging or certain other products for cash. Usually, all you need to do is make sure they’re clean and remove any labels. After that, you bring them to the location.

Compensation for metal scrap is usually based on weight. Additionally, rates can vary, but they tend to be pretty low. That means selling metal cans likely won’t make you rich, but it’s an option to explore if you purchase a lot of canned goods and want to make a few bucks.

2. Get Paid for Used Cooking Oil

Many companies and people take used cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel. If you can connect with one of them – and generate enough used cooking oil to make it worthwhile – you can get paid for this food preparation waste.

Usually, you’ll need a fairly high output to make this a reasonable money-earning endeavor. However, if you have a large family, deep fry often, or operate a restaurant, you may want to look for someone locally who’d be interested in your cooking oil.

3. Make Money from Egg Cartons

While it may seem odd that you can turn your egg cartons into cash, it’s possible. If there are a lot of backyard chicken coups in your area, you may be able to sell those households your empty cartons. The same could go for small, family farms that sell eggs.

There are also people who use egg cartons for crafting, and they may be willing to pay for them if your price is right. Just make sure you have a dozen or so available when you try to sell, as that may increase your odds of success.

4. Sell Your Corks and Bottle Caps

Corks and bottle caps are favorites for a variety of art projects. However, people usually need large quantities for their creations. Since consuming enough on their own may be impractical, artists may be willing to buy yours if you get enough collected.

Ideally, you’d want to have around 50 to 100 available if you want to sell. While that may seem like a lot, they won’t take up much space while you’re collecting them. Just designate a large jar or coffee can as the spot, and keep gathering them until you’ve hit a solid target.

5. Get Paid for Toilet Paper Tubes

Like corks and bottle caps, toilet paper tubes make their way into art projects with surprising regularity. If you have enough saved up, you might be able to sell them for a pretty penny. Just know that you may need dozens, if not one hundred or more, to attract a buyer.

6. Turn Your Junk Mail into Points

There are several only sites that let you get rid of junk mail and turn it into points you can use for cash, gift cards, and more. Usually, these are operated by market research companies that want to learn more about advertisements in a particular industry or region of the country.

Usually, the process of turning your junk mail into cash is simple. The company sends you prepaid envelopes, and you put the qualifying junk mail in them over the course of a week. Then, seal the envelope and send it back to the company.

Generally, this option works best if you live in an area with a high amount of flyers and postcard advertisements. However, if you choose a company like Small Business Knowledge Center, which also compensates you for forwarding your junk email, it can work for nearly anyone.

7. Make Money from Fabric Scraps

If you’ve collected fabric scraps while working on your own projects, you may be able to sell them to other crafty individuals who can make use of the small pieces. Precisely what your scraps are worth may depend on the quality of the material, the variety of prints, and the sheer volume of pieces. However, if you’ve got a bin or bag full of scraps, it’s worth finding out its potential value.

Just understand that the scraps need to be large enough to potentially serve a purpose. Usually, that means the pieces need to be at least 1 ½ inches wide on the slimmest side.

8. Resell Old Electronics

As long as an older electronic still works, it is potentially sellable. Websites like Gazelle can make offloading them easy. However, it’s certainly not the only option.

Just remember that you’ll need to reset your device to the original factory settings before selling. Otherwise, the personal information you placed on the device may be accessible to the next user. Typically, factory reset procedures are simple to initiate, and you can usually find out how to handle it by searching for your device type and “factory reset” online.

9. Sell Gently-Used Clothing

Many people want to refresh their wardrobe semi-regularly. However, throwing out clothing that still has life in it can feel like a waste. While donating the items is an option, you may want to see if you can make some money off of those pieces instead.

If you have gently-used high-end clothing from top brands, you can typically sell it for cash. Consignment shops may be a great place to start, as well as online services like Poshmark.

Otherwise, you can sell nearly any brand at a yard sale if the condition is good and the price is right. And if it doesn’t sell, take them to a donation center, get a receipt for their value, and take advantage of the potential tax deduction instead.

10. Get Paid for Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is an incredibly popular craft and building material. If you have reclaimed wood from a recent barn teardown or home update, you may be able to sell it for a nice profit. There are companies that will purchase the wood, or you can sell it on your own if you live in an area where it’s popular. In either case, it’s an option worth considering if you can’t use it.


Do you know of any other ways to turn trash into cash? Have you used some of the strategies above and want to let others know how it went? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tamila McDonaldTamila McDonald

Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.


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