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I love a good treasure hunt especially when I don’t have to travel far or fast. Turning trash into treasure is the best kind of treasure hunt because no maps, visas, or luggage fees required!

Instead of junking something, I’d rather turn it into cash or a similar form of payment.

It’s environmentally friendly because it’s less going to the landfill. Plus, if I found a way to move it into someone else’s driveway while they pay me for that it, that’s what winning for the world and my wallet looks like.

Those are my favorite wins.

Selling the Unwanted

There’s a point, typically years away from initial purchase, that I see something as unwanted. Stuff is only useful until it isn’t. Luckily, there are many who feel differently about my unwanted stuff and they’re willing to pay for it.

I’ve sold many things in resale shops and online sites including:

  • Clothes and jackets
  • Old Android and iOS phones
  • An SLR and point-and-shoot cameras
  • A dresser
  • Gift cards
  • Books
  • Purses, bags, and a backpack

It’s a positive feedback system, where decluttered stuff becomes a way to generate income. The cost of the item is lost as soon as the charge hits my credit card. There is no way to recoup that initial cost, similar to the loss of value when a car leaves the lot.

Donating Discarded

When an item won’t sell or when the selling becomes a chore, donating to a resale shop is another way to turn trash into treasure.

As with other donations, the receiving facility (buyer) will provide a receipt and that receipt is cashed during tax season.

Like all nerdy personal finance folks, I keep a folder for tax related receipts. Medical payment confirmations, volunteer mileage, and donation receipts are all kept in one central location so when tax season comes screaming, the needed forms are in one spot.

Rotting Riches

Unlike donating stuff, I always have plenty to donate to the compost bin.

Food scraps like banana peels, eggs shells, apple cores, and onion skins take up residence in an ice cream pail in our fridge.

Once full, the pail makes a deposit to the compost bin. The bin gets watered and stirred like nature’s oatmeal. In a short amount of time what was once trash turnings into treasure – soil rich with nutrients.

Along with generating our own garden soil, keeping food scraps out of the trash can removes smell and space from the trash bag which allows more trash that can’t be composted. Another boon is having stench-free trash. Instead of throwing out a partially filled bag because it smells like cat scat is partying with a pound of rotten butter, the trash fills to the brim with a stink-free guarantee.

Claiming Treasure

Being observant is a way to turn trash into treasure.

As I peddle about my day, I’m scanning sidewalks and parking slots for change. I rarely receive change because I use my credit card consistently, but I’m happy to pick up what others consider trash.

When I worked at a high school, I was surprised at how many teenagers disliked change. Instead of putting it in a holding tank for the bank, they’d dump it wherever it was convenient.

I frequently found change near the high school when I’d run by, especially at stop signs.

Along with picking up change, I’ll pick up trash too. Sometimes other’s trash is my treasure.

I’ve found storage containers, bathroom rugs, shirts, and hats all thrown at the side of the road. I haven’t jumped in anyone’s dumpster (yet), but I have picked it up, washed it, and reused it.

No shame in the trash to treasure game!

Turning Trash into Treasure

I have fewer opportunities when turning trash into treasure.

As I’ve grown into the minimalism lifestyle, I’ve shrunk away from blatant consumerism. I still buy everything from groceries to gas, but I try to reduce buying outside of that. Less buying creates less trash.

I feel solid about that equation. I’m not generating more trash into treasure, instead I’m going straight to saving treasure in the bank.

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