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7 Wacky Things in Your Trash Worth Cash

by - February 10, 2011 - 21 Comments

Americans throw away approximately 266 million tons of trash every year and it turns out we might as well be throwing away cash. There’s a reason dumpster diving has become so popular in recent years and that’s because things that you think are worth nothing often have value.

The Penny Hoarder veterans might recognize a few of these, but I’ve got some new ones as well.

Here are my 7 Wacky Things in Your Trash Worth Cash:

1. Ink Cartridges

Not only is it bad for the environment, but by throwing away your printer’s ink cartridges, you are potentially throwing away cash. There are several websites that will buy your empty cartridge and most will even pick up the tab for shipping. Used ink cartridges are usually worth a $1 or $2 while the larger copy toners can go for $20 or more. Check out InkjetCartridge.com, TonerBuyer.com, and WeBuySupplies.com to get started. The office store, Staples, also has a program where they will give you a $2 gift certificate for each cartridge you bring them.

2. Wine Bottles & Wine Corks

“Down the hatch” and into the trash – that’s where most of our empty wine bottles go. But some folks are making extra cash by selling their empty wine bottles and corks on Ebay. The bottles can fetch 50 cents or more and the corks go for around 10 cents each. There’s more information about how to do this here: “Make Money Recycling Wine Corks.”

3. Old Magazines

Although the iPad is quickly taking over, I’m assuming there are a few of us here that still receive physical magazines in the mail. Before you trash them you should know that there’s a demand for those used magazines and one of the great places to unload them is on Ebay. Now, not every magazine is worthy of resell. The latest issue of your People magazine is probably not worth much, but others like National Geographic can resell quite nicely on Ebay.

4. Plastic Coke Bottles

It’s not so much the bottle itself that is worth money, but rather the cap on top. Coca-Cola has been running a program for years called “Coke Rewards” where they print little codes on the inside of each plastic cap. You can redeem those codes for gift certificates to Blockbuster, Nike.com, etc. If you prefer cash over gift certificates, then you can also sell your coke caps on Ebay. Each cap is worth around 25 cents. (Update September 9, 2013 : A reader emails in to tell us that Ebay no longer allows these to be auctioned off. However, you can still trade them in for gift certificates and prizes on Mycokerewards.com)

5. Unwanted Coupons

Every Sunday I judiciously go through the coupons hidden in the middle of my newspaper. Half of them go into my coupon folder while the other half lay in a rejection pile of items I’ll never buy. The thing is, just because I don’t have a need for cat food coupons doesn’t mean somebody else won’t. Many folks sell their unwanted coupons on Ebay and some folks have even started their own website for selling their reject coupons. If you are interested in selling yours, get all the information here: “Make Money Selling Unwanted Coupons.”

6. Moving Boxes

If you have recently moved then you probably find yourself with a garage full of empty boxes. Before you sit them out on the curb, consider selling them to a resell company. There are several companies that will buy your boxes directly or allow you to post a free ad to local buyers. One such website is BoxQuest.com. I’ve previously written about a few others here: “Make Money Recycling Moving Boxes.”

7. Food Packaging

On selected General Mills brands there are little cutouts known as ‘Box-tops for Education’. The box-top program is designed to give money back to schools by giving them cash for every box-top they collect. Despite the incentive to give back, thousands of these are thrown in the trash every year and a determined group of parents are paying people to rethink that decision. The box-tops often resell on Ebay for around 10 cents each. I’ve written more about how to find and sell these in article titled “Sell Your Food Packaging.”

Good Luck Penny Hoarders!

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  • sherry

    to be honest i was not sure that penny hoarder would actually have anything worth while
    boy was i wrong i am so glad that i joined this site

    the mailman decoy i am in the process of joining that and the boxes great i have 2 storage units full of boxes i just moved thanks and i never knew about the ink catridges

    so thank you glad i found this site before i go what a laugh my step mom love her but she is a pack rat example of how bad when she moved from her home of over 30 yrs she had clothes with price stickers on them era 1970 and match books from nixons campain she sold alot but one thing she could not get rid or many of thenm is the national geographics and she had copies from the sixties so when i seen your site for that it was a hoot again thabnk yoy have a geat night looking forward to the next penny hoarder sherry smith

    • The Penny Hoarder

      Welcome, Sherry! Glad to have you as a reader.


    • Millie

      curiosity, did you ever make anything from the mail decoy? I did it with high hopes for about a year and (nothing), Hope it worked for you!

  • The Penny Hoarder

    Welcome Sarah. We are glad to have you as part of the Penny Hoarder community.

  • http://sandiegogeneralcontractor32w.onsugar.com/San-Diego-Home-Remodeling-House-Building-Methods-Choose-From-12024059 Paola Dawdy

    I am so grateful for your blog.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  • http://www.glotalk.com Marge Urrey

    Hey Yawl I read the information you posted here and I wanted to encourage Yawl need to continue to add more articles. It’s extremely interesting to me and I will be back. I will recommend with my blogging friends. Keep it up!

  • HR

    the best blog i have ever stumbled upon! thank you so much for these tips!!! i’m a sahm, so any extra income for us is wonderful! :) thanks again!! holly

    • The Penny Hoarder

      Awww.. Thanks Holly! Glad to have you…

  • Northerncoog

    This stuff is fun to read about but if there is anyone that made money selling plastic Coke caps, I would like to meet him/her and shake their hand. Save magazines and boxes? Sounds like an upcoming episode of “Hoarders”.

    You always recommend Ebay without mentioning that there are fees associated with it, and you have to pay them whether an item sells or not.

    In the interest of full disclosure, you should mention that this a pay service. If you have done so, and I did not see it, then I will beg your pardon.

  • tami s


  • kamilah

    who knew?! ha!

  • Jessica Ward

    I have been hearing a lot lately about the ink cartridges being worth something – thank you for verifying – I go through so much ink it would be worthwhile to get some cash for the empties!

  • Renski

    Who knew?! This is my motivation to clear out the “trash” and earn a few $$$ – thanks.

  • jennifer speed

    I always try to recycle my ink cartridges….and I love Coke Rewards…they’re awesome

  • http://roadrunner lynda kacicz

    It’s amazing when you do think about the things that get thrown away. Is there, by chance, a book or booklet that would have several ideas available? It sure is a way to save on landfills. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Staples used to give $3 but a bit back they lowered it to $2, still a good idea. lynda

  • ana

    I’m trying to start up a home business and if you’ve ever tried it, you know it can be expensive to start out. Right now I’m looking for any way I can find to make or save money. Magazines, bottles and corks are things I’ll be keeping to use in my business, and I don’t have a printer, but i know a couple people who have printers and who use them for their businesses and throw out cartridges at least once a week. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind giving me their “garbage” and every little bit counts. Thanks for the tips.

  • Gail Williams

    Nice to read these tips. I’ve done the printer cartridges one and I save my wine bottles and corks. I went to the liquor store and they gave me boxes with the dividers so I store the empties in that. When I get 12 it is full. I have found that in MN I can get $1.00 each at garage sales and I usually sell out. Also on Craigslist is a place to sell them.

  • Angela Cash

    I have never thought to sell my unwanted coupons. My mom and aunt both pass along coupons to me, many of which I usually end up throwing away. Look out Ebay, here I come!

  • Gilma Wielgus

    A very interesting post.

  • orfan

    So I’m now here and a little confused – why are people buying used wine bottles? For art, to refill, to collect? Do certain kinds or colors sell better? With or without labels? If you sell them on ebay, how much does it cost to ship a glass wine bottle (or a box of them)? I feel like I’ve been tossing money away every time I take these to recycling.

  • Dee

    Great articles! You are right about the coupons, but ebay has a limit, I think that you can sell the coupons but you are only allowed to make $100.00 a month. The coke caps you can no longer put on ebay and I have 720 points that I would like to make a profit off of, I know I won’t have time to enter all those codes. Maybe I can find someone to trade coke caps for educational box tops. The ink cartridges is a plus too, need to recycle and make a little cash that will at least help with your next ink purchase. Really enjoy your information, keep it coming! I am a fan!

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