Trash to Cash

reduce-reuse-recycleDid you know that some stuff you would normally throw away you can now post on eBay and make some money from? I didn’t either until one day it happened!

I think the fun part of selling on eBay for me is discovering what people are willing to pay to have something and the variety of the ‘somethings’ people want. About three years ago I discovered soda pop caps.

I’m a Mountain Dew addict. Fortunately the caffeine doesn’t affect me. I can’t tolerate the carbonation of most soda  so Mt. Dew with it’s minimal carbinaton has been my drink since high school. I  don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs…my vice is Mt. Dew. It is my drug and I rationalize and indulge myself.

102_0973When I was laid off of my job in 2012 and was home all day, I had my Mt. Dew. For whatever reason when I rinsed out the bottle and tossed it in the recycle bin, I tossed the cap in the silverware holder in the dish drain in my sink. I don’t know why I started doing this, but I did. When that filled up, I moved to a large glass bowl that sat on the desk counter in the kitchen. When that bowl filled up, I got the idea to look on eBay and see if there was a market for soda caps….and there was!

In an undisclosed amount of time I had a mountain of colorful caps; green, yellow, orange and white, determined by whatever contest was going on at that time. I sorted them and counted them and decided on two listings. The first listing was for 300+ that sold for $29.99, the second was 600+ that sold for $39.99 not too much later.  I was convinced this was the easiest $60 I made in a long time. Turns out crafters LOVE these and Pinterest and Esty are full of creative ways to use them.100_4993

I decided to reach out to friends and family and ask them to start saving caps from ANYTHING: milk jugs, spice jars, juice bottles, water, soda, etc. I decided to give anything that had a cap a try. I collected enough to fill my glass bowl and then I counted them and went about creating another listing. This time I had over 450 caps that I listed and sold for $39.99.

ribbonHere’s another recycle tip for you to keep in mind on Christmas Day. Anyone who uses the fancy schmancy ribbons to wrap their gifts, don’t throw them out. My sister turned me onto the fancy ribbon many years ago and we’d scour the after Christmas sales to get the good stuff at rock bottom clearance prices. She wrapped every gift under the tree like a Martha Stewart package and it looked beautiful. On Christmas day she meticulously saved that ribbon and reused it the next year. I’ve been cleaning out her Christmas stuff, listing it over the past few years and this summer I came across her box of ribbons. I thought about us shopping for that nicer, high end stuff and wanted to see if anyone would want ‘recycled ribbon’. I grabbed a box, filled it with a variety of ribbon and listed it on July 11 for $49.99. It sold on December 5th and the buyer has already left great feedback! Looks like I’ll be making another box of recycled ribbon. That’s just free money for very little work and effort.

There are other ‘trash’ items that easily sell on eBay or Etsy. Toilet paper rolls, wool sweaters with holes, Starbucks Frappuccino bottles, Altoids tins, baby food jars, wine corks, wine bottles, prescription bottles, empty brand name boxes, brand name paper shopping bags, various catalogs (too many to list here) etc. If you’ve got an item that you buy all the time and it comes in a nifty container, take a few seconds to do a search on eBay and see if there is any value in that trash, I’ll bet you’d be surprised and what you think is trash and others find are treasures.

The next time you are passing the time scrolling through Pinterest or Etsy, take note of the recycled items used in the cute crafts and start saving those that you use on a regular basis. A few extra bucks in your pocket for little or no effort, why not?

Update 4/10/2017

I had this box of 200 toilet paper rolls listed for a little over a year. I had them listed at $45, but I was running a 10% off sale. They sold today for $40.99. With shipping and fees, my net profit was $25. Not too bad for a box full of “trash”.

The Trial Run

I’ve been tossing the idea around of downsizing and selling my stuff for quite some time now. It has been in the last 30 days or so that I have decided to really put it into motion. In testing the waters to see if my personal belongings would actually be of any interest to anyone else, I pulled a variety of things out of cabinets and closets and listed them on eBay and Craigslist and was more than happy with my results!

Toy Storage Bin

Toy Storage Bin – Sold $60

With a few exceptions, all of the items listed on my spreadsheet (which I will post here once I figure out how) have sold since the first of the year and my total gross in sales come in at just under $2600! Without even scratching the surface I have sold stuff I no longer wear, catalogs that were in a pile on the coffee table, Easter decorations I no longer take out of the box, kitchen gadgets that belong in the appliance graveyard and toys in a playroom that only get played with a few weeks each summer.

While I do have a vibrant and successful eBay business without having to dip into my household items, I have changed my focus and will not spend my time and money in the next 12-15 months sourcing inventory to sell, but will just source from my home as I clean and pack and get ready to move.

One of the Desks from the Palyroom - Sold for $40

One of the Playroom Desks – Sold $40

I’m a numbers person so I like stats and will be tracking a variety of stats as this project unfolds. To date I’ve sold 12 items on Craigslist for a total of $660 and an average price of $55 each. Not bad for a few large Christmas lawn ornaments, some desks and toy storage items from the Playroom.

At the time of this post, I sold 41 items on eBay for a total of $1925.34, an average sales price of $46.96 each….that’s pretty amazing!

Dazey Chef's Crock Pot Slow Cooker - Sold $149.99

Dazey Chef’s Crock Pot Slow Cooker – Sold $149.99

The mix included catalogs, a few items of clothing, some kitchen appliances, toys from the playroom and very specific Christmas themed fabric panels from my sewing room. I sold six items from the kitchen for a total of $381.94 and an average selling price of $63.66 each! That tells me there is gold in my kitchen cabinets! The highest seller was a never used Dazey Chef’s Crock Pot Slow Cooker my brother gave me after his divorce.

Beary Merry Christmas Advent Calendar - Sold $399.99

Beary Merry Christmas Advent Calendar – Sold $399.99

The highest priced item sold since January 1, 2015 was a Beary Merry Christmas wall hanging advent calendar that I made in the 1990’s for my nieces and nephews and kept one for myself. It sold for $399.99 on January 1st so imagine how thrilled I was to find an incomplete one in my sewing room a few months later. I knew I would never make the time to finish it so I asked my mom to do it for me. It took her about two days to get it completed and I got it listed at the end of May for $399.99. At the time of this posting it has 4 watchers and 353 page views. I have no doubt that it will eventually sell to someone who wants to relive their childhood memories through the eyes of their own children.