Recycling is great for the planet, saves resources and helps clean up our world. Many of us know that we can recycle things like plastic, paper, glass bottles, and metals. However, there are many other items you probably didn't know could be turned in for cash or a tax deduction.
Here is a list of 6 items you can recycle for extra money.
A company called TerraCycle will pay for your trash. This program works best with schools or other nonprofit organizations that can collect a lot of trash. The company will donate money to your cause for every piece of trash you send the organization. According to its website, the company will take everything from empty scotch tape rolls to energy bar wrappers.
TerraCycle will even pay the shipping. If you have a cause, charity or school program in need of some extra money, this could be a great way to go about raising some funds.
#2. Wine Corks
While this may seem a bit odd, cork is a heavily used resource. Recycling wine corks won't make you rich, but it could definitely pay for a free bottle of wine. There are a couple of places to make money on wine corks.
First is eBay. Odd products for sale are very common on eBay. There are many crafters, businesses, and others that use old corks and they are willing to pay for them. The price isn't much, usually around 5 cents per cork. Many also prefer to purchase corks in bulk, meaning they want a box of several hundred.
The second option is to send them to Yemm & Hart Green Materials. It is a leading recycler of corks and will pay you for them. Yemm & Hart Green Materials requires a minimum of 10-pounds of corks be sent and the corks must be "pure" cork because synthetic or plastic corks will not be accepted. The rate of pay is determined by the current market value of cork.
#3. Gift Cards
Many of us receive gift cards for a holiday or a birthday to a place we will never shop, eat or visit. If you have a few of those lying in a drawer, you might consider trading them. Cardpool will take your unused gift cards and send you a check for them. While the amount is less than the face value of your gift card, you aren't getting any money with that card sitting in a drawer. It would be wise to trade it in for some cash that you could use.
Gift cards, gas cards, and grocery store savings cards are all made from PVC. This plastic can be recycled. If you have a spent card, outdated store card or old cards from now-defunct establishments, bundle them up and recycle them. Gift Card Recycler will take them and give you points for the number of cards you send.
See also: Will Your Gift Card Go Unused?
#4. Cooking Oil
Perhaps even more surprising than the idea of recycling wine corks, there are many recycling centers, biodiesel firms, and individuals that will pay you for used cooking oil. Scan Craigslist in your area. Many of these places have a continual ad soliciting oil. Winter is usually the prime time for getting cash for your oil because a number of people use this to heat their homes. Several cities in the U.K. will trade used cooking oil for bus passes, movie tickets, and cash. U.S. cities are beginning to do this as well, but it is a fairly new practice and you will have to find places locally via the newspaper or the internet.
Prices range from 33 cents to 66 cents per gallon. Think of all the used oil your family has after deep frying those holiday turkeys. It isn't much money, but it is a great way to get rid of that oil, and you won't even get taxed for selling it like you used to.
#5. Tennis Balls
There are 300 million tennis balls manufactured every year. They are made with a rubber that is not biodegradable, creating over 20,000 metric tons of rubber waste a year. A small company, Rebounces, has come up with a solution. It has created a machine that "re-bounces" tennis balls, and will give you money for donated balls. It does have specific requirements for the tennis balls it will take. The tennis balls cannot be missing felt or have been wet for instance. They also require a large amount, roughly 100-250 balls before they will take them.
Although this probably isn't an option for the regular individual, if you belong to a tennis club, or your kids are on a tennis team, you might consider this as a fundraising effort. Prices are not listed on its website and you must contact the company for further information. Keeping that much rubber out of the landfill and raising some funds for your cause looks like a win-win proposition.
#6. Human Hair
There is a lucrative, high-paying market for human hair. If you have long hair or the ability to grow it fast, you could be looking at some serious cash. Rates for unbleached, natural hair can range from $200 to well over $1,500 depending on shade, length, and condition.
Hair extension companies, wig makers, and even heirloom hair weavers will pay you for hair. Sites such as buyandsellhair.com and hairsellon.com are just a couple of the sites that will purchase your hair.
You can even find buyers of hair on eBay and Craigslist. Before you buzz off your locks, do your research and make certain you are dealing with a reputable person or business. There are lots of fraudulent "buyers." If you don't want the cash, but would really like to help a child, you can donate your hair to Locks for Love. Locks for Love has been collecting hair for years, is a reputable charity and gives locks to youngsters who've lost their hair due to a variety of illnesses.
The Bottom Line
If you look around, almost everything we use can be recycled. Most of it won't bring you any cash or compensation, but if you take a few minutes to recycle it will save the planet from being overloaded with debris. There are approximately 2.5 million pounds of e-waste created per year from our cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. It is becoming necessary for everyone to seriously consider recycling electronics. All of us should recycle as part of our daily routine whether it is for cash or for the sake of the environment.