If there is one thing that aggravates me to no end, it is seeing litter in the woods. There should be automatic jail time handed out to any person convicted of littering.
But, there is some nice money to be made on trash found in the woods, or along the roadways. I regularly pick up trash when I find it in the woods or in rivers while I’m recreating. While I’m doing my good deed for the day, I’m also going to see if I can make some money on it, as long as I’m spending my time picking up after others.
First of all, make sure that you wear thick work gloves while handling any man-made materials that you find. There is the potential to be seriously cut, and you could contract a number of diseases by being cut by unclean glass or metal.
I do not open any trash bags found in the woods, and I highly recommend that you do not open any closed bags, either. The health concerns are obvious. You don’t know what is in the bag, correct? At the least, you could be dealing with rotten food and diapers. At worst, the contents of a garbage bag could be explosive, if a drug manufacturer threw out the remains of a mobile meth lab!
So, where is the value in discarded litter? You should immediately recognize the intrinsic value of picking up unsightly, environmentally degrading litter in the area where you live. It should make you feel proud to help your community and conserve your local environment by making the effort to pick up that litter. That is the value in picking up most plastics, trash bags, broken glass, shingles, and other litter that has no resale value.
It should not be difficult at all to find a local business or a governmental agency that will allow you to dispose of bags of litter that you selflessly picked up from public land. You should not have to pay to dispose of such materials yourself.
There is also a lot of tangible money to be made at these dump sites. I can guarantee you that if ‘push came to shove’, I could feed my family for months solely off the scrap metal value of litter piles found in the woods on state land where I live. That’s not my first choice of material to sell, but it would do just fine in a pinch.
In order to maximize your profit on this scrap metal, consult the chapter on Scrap Metal in this book for the separation and identification of particular metals.
If you have a scrap metal vehicle or trailer, you can continue to add magnetic steel from a number of litter locations until you get a full load to sell at the scrap yard. If you do not have a designated vehicle, you may opt to mark scrap metal spots on a map or GPS unit, until you think that you would have enough steel to make a load, and then pick them all up in the same trip.
Remember to remove anything that is not magnetic (non-ferrous) from the scrap metal, before going to the scrap dealer. Anything that is non-ferrous should be sold separately as it is has significantly more value than ferrous steel.
And now, let’s talk about the real money. As you are loading your scrap metal, remove any items with dedicated recyclable value. One example would be aluminum beverage cans in states with deposit laws. There are also many other items with designated values listed in APPENDIX C, such as cellular telephones, Lithium-Ion Batteries, and printer cartridges.
Next, look to see if there is anything that you can sell individually. Look for any media items, like music CDs, DVDs, video games and books that are in good enough shape to sell.
One of my best finds ever was in a trash pile along a road on state land. I stopped to pick up the litter, and noticed a huge pile of 1980s heavy metal CDs that had been tossed out with the litter. Many of the cases and paperwork therein were destroyed by the elements, but 90% of the CDs themselves were just fine.
I listed over 100 of the CDs on Amazon, with values of up to $20 each. I sold most of them within two months! There was also a working video game system worth $50 in the pile. Of course, I also disposed of the rest of the litter that was there. Intrinsic value, folks.
You should also look for board games, handheld video games, and electronics to sell for parts, collectibles, vintage bottles, batteries, battery chargers, computers, cords, remote controls, and other similar items.
Check inside anything with a battery compartment for batteries. I have found many usable alkaline batteries lying around inside litter piles. You can also save the battery compartment doors to sell on commonly owned items like remote controls and toys. Save any rechargeable batteries as well. You can make very good money on large rechargeable batteries, if they are not completely dead. Even if you don’t have the manufactured charger, it is still possible to recharge most batteries. I will provide you with a link later in this document that provides directions on how to recharge many supposedly ‘dead’ batteries.
After you have removed all of the items that you can sell individually and the recyclable items, hit all of the metal with your magnet. Take anything out of the pile that is non- ferrous. Make sure you remove any copper wires and cords. Make a separate pile for this material, or put it in a large sturdy bag. Also include in this pile any junk electronics that you plan on disassembling for sellable parts, or the interior copper and precious metals content.
Finally, remove the large steel frames from any furniture that is there. Items like sleeper sofas can have $10-15 in steel in their frames alone. Put the remaining ferrous metal in your scrap vehicle, separate from your non-ferrous pile. Take your valuable non-ferrous pile, bag it, and remove it. Complete your work by bagging the rest of the litter and disposing of it on the way to scrap metal dealer.
In addition to piles of litter, there are many other free single items that can be found while outside that you can sell. Along roadways you can find hubcaps and wheel rims worth $2-3 each at the scrap metal dealer, recyclable cans, bungee straps, ratchet straps, and if you are really luck, exhaust pipes with the platinum-containing catalytic converters attached. Junk ‘Cats’ are worth $40-150 each, because of the platinum content inside them!
If you can find a junk vehicle in the woods, congratulations! You can haul the body to the scrap dealer for at least $200, if you can get it out of the woods. If you can’t get the car out, you may very well be able to strip out a bunch of parts to sell individually on eBay. You can also remove the ‘cat’ from newer vehicles, take all of the copper wires, remove the radio, etc. If it is an older vehicle and not too rusted, you may be able to sell the chrome trim, decals, hood ornaments and other collectible items for very good money.
Some other man-made items that I have found and sold or converted to personal use while outdoors are: vintage fishing lures and tackle, golf clubs, golf balls, railroad ties, railroad spikes, lumber, automobile batteries (why would you throw these out? You get at least $5 just by taking them to Wal-Mart!), tools, doors, door knobs, bench seats, coolers, bottles, vintage cans, winter outerwear, a paintball helmet, copper pipes, tents, hunting blinds, ice spuds, duck decoys, duck decoy anchors, shotgun shell hulls, brass shell casings, vintage shotgun shell boxes, can openers, collectible lighters, folding chairs, camp chairs, working radios, Walkman radios, an I-pod, and on and on.
For a complete list of free outdoor items that you can sell and where to sell them, see the Outdoors Items Appendix provided with this document.