Recycle + Repurpose + Re-use = Replenish Your Bank Account

In these recessionary times, it becomes more important than ever not simply to save money but to leverage whatever it is that we have to make money.

In some quarters of the press, the green project is often labelled as a drain on time and money for very little reward. Over the past few years there have been numerous headlines proclaiming that with the credit squeeze consumers see organic, green and natural products as a luxury that they can no longer afford.

However, taking a green approach to the things we already own need not necessarily be a burden and may in fact generate income for the cash-strapped amongst us.

One Person’s Clapped Out and Busted Garbage, Is Another Person’s Precious

The constant upgrading of mobile phones is a bane of modern life. Consequently, many of us will often find old mobile models lying around in drawers and down the back of sofas. Cash can easily be made on unwanted mobile phones and there are many such websites that can be quickly Googled.

Most of your other household items can also be sent to recycling companies for some financial recompense. These include iPods and MP3 players, laptops, sat-navs, and so forth. These companies can make money from the metals involved, from selling them on in developing countries, or from re-packaging them as vintage items.

Dressing Up Others To Look Like Yourself

If you are a hoarder whose wardrobe looks like a fashion museum or whose clothes can still remember when you had a waist-line rather than a waist-circle, then you may want to think about seeking cash for clothes. Scotland, for instance, has been championing such initiatives supported by National Lottery grants as well as by the Scottish Executive. The majority of these projects are meant to reward you monetarily and morally – i.e., you get cash for clothes, Scotland gets increased resources for tackling those in severe material hardship.

Some national chain retail stores are getting conscientious and looking to incentivise shoppers by offering discounts in exchange for old clothes. Even charitable donations can sometimes merit cash for clothes; Scotland’s Oxfam stores sometimes offer vouchers in return for good quality items.

Remember Books? They Used To Be Popular in the 20th Century

It is the eternal conundrum – what to do with books that you have read? Are you really going to go back and re-read them knowing what happens in the end (reader, she marries him!). Or is it that you like to deck your shelves with emblems of your literacy with which to impress houseguests?

Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!

Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!

Things are changing now, of course. Ebooks, and Kindles, and pdfs, and audio books  and so on. So those old scraps of bound bark should stop dusting up your house and be made to work for you. Numerous websites, including Amazon, will let you sell your books in their virtual marketplaces. Most of these sites let you list your items for free, but will have to pay commission upon completion of sale.  Average revenue for a book sale in good condition, after fees have been paid, is in the region of £2-£3.

It’s Not Rubbish. It’s Vintage and Retro and Distressed. It Just Looks Like Rubbish

Another option for the bric-a-brac that doesn't fit into any specialist markets is to consider an old-fashioned garage sale, maybe a car boot sale, or online auction sites. Although buyers will expect to be paying bargain basement prices, these forums provide a perfect opportunity to sell items in bulk that would be unlikely to raise money individually.

Your garage sale will need a little local publicity in advance – posters on lampposts, cards in corner shop windows, etc – in order that you don’t spend a depressing afternoon on your own in a garage gazing at all the rubbish you’ve wasted your hard-earned money on over the years.

For car boot sales, the publicity is handled by the organisers. What you have to consider is competition from other sellers. In order to give yourself an advantage, make sure you get there early and set up your stall in good time (especially as professional sellers will often survey newbie stalls for bargains). Set your prices fairly but don’t undersell the quality of your quality items; but always be willing to negotiate with customers.

Not only could all these options help you make some extra money, it also helps clear out all the old clutter filling up your home which in itself has a psychological benefit by making life feel more manageable.


Sally Dimmock works as a sustainability consultant in Scotland. As a freelancer she has felt the pinch of the recession. Sally and her family have set themselves a target to raise money from recycling – cash for gold, cash for energy, cash for clothes. Scotland will have a lot more extra belongings on its shelves now!

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