So I've been pondering the question on how to turn trash into cash, and I think I might have some ideas. Some of these I have done before, others are just thoughts more than anything. Some involve actual trash whereas others use the concept of 'trash' in a slightly looser fashion. Most of them could be done entirely cost free or entirely not-cost-free, depending on how you go about it.
I had mentioned this idea in another blog entry, when DH and I saw wax dipped pinecones that were intended to be used as fire starters. As I've never done this please don't mistake any of my ponderings for actual instructions! Assuming you live in or near a wooded area (or even a park), one could easily find enough pinecones to get started. I was thinking things like dry moss, sawdust, and pine needles might also work to make nice firestarters too. The wax could come from candles or crayons that have seen better days that you have lying around the house.
Cardboard Boxes, Paper orPlastic Bags
Around here the liquor stores stack them up outside with a sign that says "Free Boxes!". One option is to use these to pack peoples suff in when they move, but since most wouldn't pay for the boxes you might be tempted to pack the stuff for pay. Thing is, what if it breaks? ACK! So, my other thought was to take them to the flea market and sell for like a dime each for people to carry their stuff around in. Same thing for paper and plastic bags: sometimes the booth proprietors forget to bring a sack of bags and you might be able to sell them a bag of bags for a buck....
Yeah, I know, I have an in with the cigar man so this might not apply to everyone! My dad actually gives them away by the garbage bag full, some other places might do the same. I've sold these before at the flea market, anywhere from 1-6 bucks each. Not bad for trash! Some of the nicer ones can be done up as a humidor, and I had one guy buy several to hold handguns (he was going to do the whole velvet lined interior bit). Sometimes you'll be able to get the same box design in different sizes and you can sell them as a set, and I speak from experience when I say they're great clutter catchers! Some of the cheaper looking ones could be done up as a bird house, painted and made into mail holders, that sort of thing.
Other than the obvious copper, which is kind of a hot market right now, have you ever looked at the wires inside your phone cord (RJ11) or ethernet cable/cat5? The inner wires are covered in a colorful sheath made of insulated plastic. When I was a teenager, I made bracelets from the stuff by stripping them out of the outter plastic coating and leaving the copper wire inside the inner plastic sheath. Braclets, bookmarks, perhaps picture frames? All possibilities.
Glass and Pottery
For those not broken, you could paint them and give them a new life. I'm mostly thinking broken glass/ceramic/potter items here, though. Take pieces and make mosaic anything, really. Trivets, coasters, picture frames, wall art, candle holders, the list is almost endless. You'll need a mortar of some sort, I've used plaster of paris before.
When I think paper goods I think wrapping paper, labels, gift bags, calendars, CD covers, junk mail, magazines; just about anything. Some of my favorites are calendars and gift bags, but maybe that's just me. Anywho, you could take some of the cardboard boxes and make picture frames that you cover with some of your paper goods. Same thing with the cigar boxes, actually. Decoupage is pretty fool proof, and I've used school glue instead of the actual decoupage medium with success.
OK, not all trash here but still pretty cheap! Dryer lint plus clean unused el-cheapo toilet paper (you know, the half ply stuff that always leaves you wanting more!) = the makings for homemade paper! Used tissue paper (think gifts, not sneezes) works too. Instructions are available online, and school glue works here as a 'sizing agent' (what bonds your paper together). Even better: pair up with a decorated box and have a handmade stationary set...
Cut what looks like a gingerbread man type of figure out of clean rags, sew edges shut except for a spot where you stuff with it whatever you've got around, sew shut. Include instructions:
When you'd like to kick the dog
or throw the phone and shout
here's a little Dammit doll
That you can't live without
Just grasp it firmly by its leg
and find a place to slam it
And as you whack its stuffing out
Yell Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!!