Your Trash, My Treasure: Easy ways to recycle weird stuff

Used beverage containers. Broken skateboards. Old license plates. What do these things have in common? They can be used to make stuff that can be sold for unexpectedly high prices.

By being creative and having the right tools, even the most mundane items can be turned into big bucks.

Recycling Style

Everyone wants to be original, so forget buying clothes and accessories off the rack. Making your own will not only fatten your wallet, it can help you and potential customers stand out from the crowd.

If you have some neckties that you (or your ex-boyfriend) will never wear again, turn them into belts. All you really have to do is cut two ties down to length (leave extra room if you want them to hang down), and stitch them together. It only takes a few minutes, and your friends are left wondering why they don’t have one.

Out and About

People want to be unique, but flaunting isn’t exactly in style in the midst of a recession. For example, consider making a purse out of old license plates: they’re even selling them at Wal-Mart, some for upwards of $100.

Or be Earth-friendly and clever at the same time by making use of those used juice pouches (think Capri Sun). They’re durable, waterproof, and can be sewn together to create purses, lunch boxes, or anything within the limits of your imagination and your budget for juice.

Love duct tape? Then why not turn that unused roll into a wallet? Several shops online are dedicated to selling items made exclusively of duct tape, from hats to guitar straps to roses (in case you couldn’t find a nice one to pluck), and should serve as good inspiration for your own sticky innovations.

At Home

With the right tools, you can repurpose just about any piece of wood into something unique, but time and money are limited (and let’s face it, not everyone is ready to get all Bob Vila on the situation). If you find something in a thrift store or out on the curb with a nice body but horrible finish, you can sand it down, maybe add a few screws for stability’s sake, and re-finish it with a nice stain or polyurethane. Bam! Instant cheap table, or bookcase, or shelf.

If your bike breaks and you’re feeling especially crafty, do what Resource Revival did: turn it into cool stuff. They use simple bike chains and cogs to make everything from catch-all bowls ($88) and desk clocks ($30) to keychain bottle openers ($14). If you’re a skater who’s broken his or her fair share of boards, borrow an idea from DeckStool. This company turns old and broken skate decks into stools. They even use old skate trucks to hold them together. Nothing’s stopping you from doing the same and beating their $200 price.

The US recycles about 34.3 percent of its trash. With the right mindset you can do your part to keep stuff out of landfills and turn a profit.

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