Dollars on the Sidewalk

In the previous post I mentioned a way for children to earn money from recycling. In this one I want to build on that idea further with an idea for adults.

A few months a go on garbage day, I noticed a pick-up truck driving down my street. The back of this truck was filled with junk, old lawn chairs, a fire place poker set, the metal legs of a coffee table. I watched this guy as he stopped a few houses down, picked up an old steel picnic umbrella stand, tossed into the bed of his truck and drove off. 

At that moment it became perfectly clear to me what he was up to. This intrepid fellow was on the hunt for scrap metal. Traveling up and down the streets of my town searching out metallic items placed next to the garbage cans.  Very Clever and fairly lucrative for someone willing to put in the work. 

Now rates for scrap metal can vary widely depending on the dealer and the metal involved. I guessing that the majority of the metal you will find will be Steel/Iron/Tin and this will often yield about  5 cents a pound. If you worked hard and gather 600 pounds of this grade of metal it would bring you about $30.00 minus the cost of fuel. This is not very impressive, but I am hoping it won’t all be this grade of metal and it always helps to do some research. Did you know that Christmas lights go for 20 cents a pound? Grabbing a few strings of those would pump up your take a bit.

The bigger money metal would be things like aluminum siding (50 cents a pound) or brass plumbing pipe (1.60 per pound). In a plastic world metals like these are becoming extinct, but they are still out there.  Aluminum side doors wear out after 20-30 years of use, gutters fall down or are damaged by storms, they will find their way to the curbside. Hopefully you will be there to grab them.

This type or work is a win win on many levels. You obviously win with extra cash in your pocket. Your town saves badly needed space in the local dump and the sanitation workers win by having less to lift and throw in the back of the garbage truck. Let’s not forget the local scrap metal dealer who will have more product to sell which will increase his business. With repeated visits to this dealer the two of you will build a relationship and one would hope that he would give you better rates on your haul.

The first few weeks will most certainly be the most difficult, but over time you will figure out where to find the best stuff and when to look. After a heavy storm people often throw out their damaged lawn furniture. The same holds true for spring and fall when people get rid old/broken barbecues or appliances after they have bought new ones. 

Eventually it should be possible to collect 600-800 pounds of metal and at an average price of 7 cents per pound you would make 42-56 dollars a day before you subtract the cost of gasoline. If you did this twice a week every week of the month your total gross could be around $300- $450 dollars a month. Now that will build anyone’s Piggy Bank.

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