Green Money Making Ideas
Going green doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, you can make money when you take advantage of these environmentally friendly schemes – helping you to combat climate change and benefit your bank balance.
1. Green shopping initiatives
Collect loyalty card points or take advantage of incentives by carrying out a green activity – to convert into money-off vouchers, days out, flights and holidays.
Tesco offers one green Clubcard point for every bag you reuse in stores; a point for every 10 items you buy online with the bagless delivery option; or a point for every two aluminium cans you recycle at one of its automatic recycling centres.
Plus you'll also earn 200 green Clubcard points when you recycle a working mobile phone (on top of your Tesco gift card), or 100 points for recycling used printer cartridges.
Sainsbury's will give you one green Nectar card point for every bag you reuse in stores.
Boots Advantage card
Boots offers Advantage card points when you recycle a mobile phone, digital camera, MP3 player or sat nav and up to 100 points for selected inkjet cartridges.
M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange
Marks & Spencer (M&S) offers a £5 gift voucher to spend in store (when you spend £35) when you donate unwanted M&S clothes to your local Oxfam in the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange – great if you're a regular M&S shopper, and it helps to reduce the estimated one million tonnes of clothes that go to landfill each year.
The scheme also covers soft furnishings – including bed linen, towels, cushions, curtains and throws.
2. 'Scrappage' schemes
Following the now-ended government car and boiler scrappage schemes, trade-in or 'scrappage' schemes offered by companies seem to be increasingly cropping up. We've listed a few to consider if you're in the market for one of these products.
- You can get up to £150 off selected Sony Bravia TVs in exchange for your old television, which will be responsibly disposed of.
- Energy giant Npower is continuing to offer its £400 boiler scrappage discount when you replace an old G-rated boiler for a new energy efficient one.
You should always shop around first to make sure you're getting the most competitive deal, though, even after factoring in the incentive. If you find a better deal elsewhere, find out how to recycle the item yourself.
3. Apply for an energy grant
This idea won't directly 'earn' you money – but if you're considering installing energy efficient measures in your home, don't miss out on extra funding that may be available to you.
There are several energy grant schemes available, depending on your circumstances, that could help you to achieve long term financial savings on your heating and energy costs through projects such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and heating controls.
Find out more in our energy grants guide. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) also lists grants and offers currently available from the government, local authorities and energy suppliers.
4. Generate your own energy
If you have installed or are thinking about installing a renewable technology such as solar panels at home, you may also be able to make money by selling some of the green electricity you generate through feed-in tariffs.
The feed-in tariff scheme means households with renewable technologies will receive cash payments for every unit of energy they produce themselves, rather than by using conventional fuels such as gas and mains electricity.
You will need to weigh up the potential to save and make money through your microgeneration system against the initial outlay for equipment and installation, which can run to thousands of pounds.
You should also think about the suitability of the technology for your property and geographical location.
5. Grow your own, sell your own
Growing your own fruit, vegetables or herbs is more popular than ever – according to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, there are 60 people on waiting lists for every 100 established allotment plots, compared with 50 in 2009 and four in 1997.
Growing your own food helps you to reduce carbon emissions through cutting your individual food mile count, and it can also be a good money-making opportunity if you've got excessive produce to sell.
The biggest challenge, after successfully growing your produce, of course, is finding a suitable place to sell it. You could consider:
- Setting up a stall in your front garden
- Selling at a sale organised by your local allotment association
- Having a stall at a local fête or school event
- Contacting local farmers to see if they would buy your produce to sell in their farm shop
Make money recycling
Recycling can be as good for the pocket as it is for the environment. There is a growing range of recycling services offering to trade certain goods in for cash, and sites where you can sell unwanted goods – and shrewd consumers are making money recycling items they might otherwise have thrown away.
6. Make money recycling gadgets
Many of us are already aware of mobile phone recycling schemes where you can earn cash for unwanted mobiles - but you can also make money recycling several other electrical gadgets these days too, including MP3 players, digital cameras and sat navs.
Mobile phone recycling
Choose between numerous mobile phone recycling schemes, including specialist websites such as Mazuma Mobile, Envirofone and Fonebank – or compare more at MobileValuer, a mobile phone recycling aggregator. Read our full guide to mobile phone recycling for more information.
Electrical recycling for cash
- The Royal Mail's Simply Drop scheme lets you make money out of recycling mobile phones, MP3 players and cameras.
- The Go Green tool run by The Mirror gives you cash in exchange for MP3 players, laptops, sat navs and mobile phones.
- Got an old Apple iPod? You can exchange them for cash at Money4urmobile.
7. Recycle old CDs, DVDs and computer games for cash
It's almost impossible to estimate the number of old CDs, DVDs, computer games and other home entertainment items there are in the UK, but around 2,500 tonnes of CDs alone are thrown away each year.
Whether you're upgrading technology or want to revamp your collection, make money recycling old CDs, DVDs and computer games instead of throwing them away.
Try a website such as MusicMagpie, which claims to be 'the UK's only website for turning your old CDs, DVDs or games into cash'. Get a value for your item – which needs to be in good working condition – by typing in its barcode number. Prices offered range from 25p to £1.38 for a CD.
8. Make money recycling old books
Don't leave unwanted or unread books on the shelf – pass them on to a new home and make some extra money. Websites including Amazon and GreenMetropolis let you sell second-hand books via their virtual bookstores.
With Amazon you list an item for sale, setting your own price. When it sells, Amazon receives an 86p completion fee, plus closing fee of 17.25% of the sale price. Pre-set delivery charges are also collected from the buyer, which you will receive as postage credit, minus a variable fee to Amazon.
A 2004 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell in 'like new' condition was selling on Amazon for up to £4.49. Based on this price – and without factoring in postage – you'd earn £2.92.
With GreenMetropolis, you earn at least £3 for each old paperback, hardback or audio book you sell. Factor in postage costs for each item, though for larger books you can add postage costs on to the item's price.
9. Have a car boot sale
Alternatively, you could sell your unwanted odds and ends the old-fashioned way – at a car boot sale. It's a great way to make some extra money while reducing the amount of rubbish you throw away.
Buyers will expect to pick products up at knock-down prices, but car boot sales are a good opportunity to bulk-sell items unlikely to sell individually online. You can find your nearest car boot sale by visiting car boot sale directory CarBootJunction. We've put together some top tips for sellers.
- Get set up early – dealers will often scour car boot sales before it gets busy.
- Be prepared to negotiate with buyers.
- Price your items fairly but accurately.
- Make sure you're aware of trading laws.
Your profit will depend on the products you're selling, but remember to factor the cost of pitching your vehicle, which is usually between £5 and £20.
10. Sell the rest by auction...
Don't throw away unwanted items – you'll be throwing away the potential of earning some extra money along with it. Selling stuff through online auctions rather than throwing things away can make you money, save on potential transport removal costs and reduce the amount of waste you're sending to landfill each year.
The auction site eBay is the biggest and most recognised site of its kind, but other sites you can sell through include Amazon, Play.com and Gumtree. Find out what happened when we advertised a Doctor Who box-set to compare each service – our guide to selling unwanted goods online reveals which service performed the best.
We've also got top tips for selling items on eBay to maximise your profit, from picking the right product to sell to using the best type of auction.
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