Recycling Benefits The Earth and Your Wallet
by Nicole Richards


I like to think of recycling, wearing sunscreen, and flossing as one in the same. We know we should do them and yet most of the time we don’t. No matter what benefits might arise from recycling our trash, putting on sunscreen before we go to the beach, or flossing every night, most of us do not consistently do these things. Why not? Is it laziness? A lack of interest in our health? Or maybe it is the fact that we are not able to immediately see the harm? If we can’t see the problem then it’s not there, right?

Although I fully believe wearing sunscreen and flossing are important, recycling has lately caught my attention. I believe it began in high school. I had a physics teacher who spent his entire lunch going through all of the garbage cans around campus picking out the bottles and cans. He had bags of them in his room. Rumor was he cashed them in over the years and made enough money to put his daughter through college.

Then over spring break my Dad took in a small box of scrap metal to recycle and received one hundred and thirty dollars. I was interested. Who knew there was money in recycling? Sure I had seen the CA refund on cans for five cents, but that didn’t seem worth it to me. Interested in how much money you could make off recycling, I began to do some research and came across a website called This website allows you to see how much money you would receive depending on the number and type of item you turn in. Let’s say hypothetically I live with three other people. We each drink two sodas a day. That amounts to 2,920 aluminum cans a year. If we were to bring those to an aluminum can recycling center we could receive $154.47.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times titled “More Californians Cashing In On Recyclables” by Tami Abdollah, she writes about people who actually do collect cans and turn them in for cash. After California increased the California Refund Value of cans to five cents for small containers and ten cents for large containers it is estimated that this hike has increased the amount of containers being redeemed to seven out of ten.

The article talks about one person, Maria Rivera, who collects cans and brings them in, saying she makes about a thousand dollars a month. Now that is something I would like to get in on. Maybe people have found what will make them recycle – cold hard cash. The reward is something tangible we can hold on to, there is incentive to recycle, which reaps benefits not only for us but also for the world.

It may seem juvenile. I mean we shouldn’t need a reason to recycle other than the fact that it is good for the environment, good for our resources, and good for our world. Right? Or maybe this is okay. I say whatever incentive is going to start to make us recycle is worth it.
Now if only we could get paid to wear sunscreen and to floss.