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Make Green by Going Green: How Some Companies are Making Cash through Recycling

By November 22, 2011Blog, Member News

Usually when we think of recycling we think of it in the context of recent green efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Recycling is about sustainability, reusing resources rather than simply throwing old things away and creating new. We talk about recycling at home, recycling in the workplace, recycling on construction sites and so much more. But what if recycling could be about more than simply being green? Have you ever wondered whether recycling can actually net money for a person or business? The answer is yes, you can make money with recycling. And a number of companies are out to prove that this is true.

Recycling buttons in GBB BLOG

Turning a Desire to Go Green into Green Money Let’s start with one easy, low effort way to turn a desire to recycle into something green. There is a small restaurant in a little city outside of Detroit, Michigan, that French fries a lot of potatoes. Hanging on their wall is a sign that says that their used vegetable oil is turned into biodiesel to power local commercial vehicles. What the sign does not say is that in addition to finding an eco-friendly way to dispose of their unwanted oil waste, the restaurant is actually paid for each gallon of vegetable oil that they give to the biofuel creator.

In short, rather than paying for disposal of used oil, they are paid for their oil to be used in a new way – a win-win scenario for everyone. Sure, people have made a dime here and there recycling aluminum for years, but today people are finding a new way to make money – sometimes even a business – out of recycling. Let’s look at a few fun ways that one person’s trash can become another person’s treasure.

Get Crafty One way that people make a living by recycling is by getting crafty and then selling their crafty creations. Etsy.com is one of the best places to find many of these recycled treasures, with everything from old buttons made into teddy bears to purses made from chip bags and picture frames made from recycled bottles. Companies such as TerraCycle have established entire business models around turning old materials into something exciting and new.

TerraCycle in GBB BLOG

Animal Waste Examples of such crafty creations can be found around the country. The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida is one of many tourist attractions whose gift shop includes a collection of products made out of animal waste. That’s right, dung. Excrement. Poop. For a price. Specifically, this zoo gift shop sells PooPooPaper, an odorless, eco-friendly paper sold in the form of stationary and journals that are made from recycled elephant dung. What better way to make an environmental statement than to write your friends on poo paper!


 Make a Website Out of It While many individuals and small companies have started to find creative ways to recycle themselves into profitability and the public eye, others are simply serving as a vehicle to spread the word – and promote sales – of these eco-friendly products. For example, ucommongoods.com specializes in selling a variety of recycled materials, from night lights to clothing and blown glass knick-knacks.  TerraCycle.com goes beyond simply creating and selling recycled products; at TerraCycle you can actually send in your old waste products with the knowledge that they will be put to a good use, repurposed in some interesting way, then made available to willing customers.

Going Green When we think of going green, we often think about saving energy or reducing waste. But with repurposing and creative recycling, we can do so much more. Old can become new again, and it can bring in new revenue as well. In an age where green is the new black and hipper than orange ever was, finding ways to create green money while embarking on eco-friendly initiatives simply involves some ingenuity and a willingness to turn trash into treasure.



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