Scrap: Turning Junk Into Money

Posted on January 26, 2012 by Mickey

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

I recently found myself at the bottom of an appliance hand-me-down chain, not a bad place to be when you’ve been running a washer/dryer set that’s older than the Colorado Rockies (the baseball team, but perhaps also the geologic feature; they may have faux wood-grain panels, but no obvious signs of glaciation.) Actually, we’re keeping the old dryer because it still works fine, the “new” one reportedly doesn’t do such a hot job, and we hardly use the dryer anyway. The washer sprang a leak a while back, though, so we’ll take the opportunity to snag a free replacement.

Regardless of our reasoning, I found myself in possession of an unwanted and functionally compromised washer/dryer set. One option, of course, would have been to attempt to sell or give away the machines. Somebody might want them, right? But what could I possibly get for a couple of broken appliances? And more importantly, where would I put them in our one-bedroom apartment in the meantime?

Every so often I see various appliances and pieces of furniture shoved up against the Dumpster outside our building, and I figure those must be people who don’t know anyone with a truck. If they’d only know that, having already gone to the trouble of wrestling their busted appliance from the cramped confines of the apartment (the hard part), they merely needed to convey it ten minutes down the road to the nearest scrapyard where they hand out cash for such things! Cash, people! For junk!

Which is what I did. With the help of a friend I got those things loaded into my truck and I was off to collect my prize. At the scrapyard all you do is park on the scale (Ever wonder what your car weighs? Mine’s 3200 lbs.), drive in and unload your mostly-metal items (by unload I mean back up to the pile and shove them off, and be quick lest the guy driving the giant magnet crane thinks your old, dented-up truck is there to be recycled), drive back over the scale so they know how much weight you lost on the premises, and go collect at the window! At 13 cents a pound, disposing of those two appliances netted me $32, which Courtney informs me is more than she paid for our washer and dryer together when she bought them in college. Thirty-two dollars for something that I could have just left next to the Dumpster (where I suspect it would have been picked up by someone trolling for scrap metal long before anyone carted it off to a landfill.)

Obviously the best thing to do with old appliances is use them as long as you can or find them a new home. Beyond that, however, there’s no reason to trash them just because they don’t fit in your recycling bin. Using scrap steel instead of virgin ore in manufacturing saves enormous amounts of energy and creates far less pollution and waste. Plus, all metals have significant monetary value, be they buried in the earth or leaning up against a Dumpster. It almost makes me feel like a chump for giving all my other recyclables away for free.


  1. I love it when you can get paid for old junk you don’t want anyway. I’d like to know what kinds of things the scrap metal gets used for after getting dropped off at the scrapyard.

    January 26th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
    Comment by courtney
  2. I remember the days when we used to get paid to recycle! It’s good to know it still exists for the larger things like appliances.

    January 28th, 2012 at 10:48 am
    Comment by Julie
  3. Courtney- Scrap metal just gets shredded, sorted, melted and made into something new.

    February 20th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
    Comment by mickey

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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