OK, it's not really GOLD but it's easier to find and can put some good money in your pocket! More often called derogatory names like trash picking or dumpster diving it is in actuality an amazing resource for many types of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere
Step 1: How to Get Started
Depending on where you are there are many methods to collect your suburban gold.
You can walk and pull a wagon
ride a bike and pull a trailer
Use your car
use a truck
you may want to have gloves and a couple of good flashlights, perhaps some rope or bungee cords
Step 2: Have a Place to Sell Your Gold
Depending on what material you find there are several ways to convert your treasures into cash.
Aluminum cans currently bring 40cents a pound at our local scrap yard, a couple of large plastic trash bags filled with crushed cans can bring you $15-20.00 !
Scrap steel is currently 15cents a pound, I can get between $60-250.00 worth in my small truck.
Consignment shops and second hand stores are another way to turn your treasures into gold. You don't get as much selling it outright but it can add up quickly. People throw away some amazing stuff ! Barely used large children toys are a quick sell to consignment stores or second hand shops, quite often you don't even have to clean them up, carseats, beds, chairs, vacuum cleaners, bags of clothes, the possibilities are endless when your suburban gold mining !
Flea markets are a great place to sell your finds, prices for a space will vary from flea market to flea market and areas of the country. My local flea market charges $20 a day for a 10x20foot space, this past saturday I got 2 and sold almost $300 in 6hours then almost doubled that on sunday! The pics are just a small part of what I've found over the past 2 weeks
Craigslist. OMG what a FANTASTIC site! Not only can you find people giving stuff away free that you can sell or scrap its also a great place to advertise some of your better finds.
Step 3: It Takes Some Effort
I usually spend 3-4 hours a night, 3 nights a week slowly cruising through my favorite hunting areas on their trash night, you can usually find the schedule online or call your local trash hauling company (just don't tell them WHY your asking!) Some nights I may need to unload a couple of times but I gather just about everything from old grills to baby strollers. It takes some experience to know what bags may have treasure (ranging from clothes to mom cleaned out the room and threw away all the toys)
of course whenever I'm out I'm checking curbs and dumpsters as well, I recently saw workmen carrying 4 sheets of 1/2",4x8' oak veneered plywood to a dumpster at a home remodel site and asked if they could put it in my truck instead. I put it on craigslist and within an hour sold it for $150.us
Then a couple of hours each day sorting what I brought home, some things end up back on the trash but not often.
I fill gallon size ziptop bags with miscilanious small toys and sell them for $2.00 a bag.
Large objects like tables and chairs or dressers usually go on Craigslist or go to the 2nd hand stores but some of the nicer items I sell online or take to the flea market.
Metal needs to be sorted into categories my local scrap yard will take, light steel, steel, cast iron, electric motors, brass etc and you need a place to store it until you have enough to make it pay. Of course they will take a mixed load but it seems easier to me to sort it at home, and the scrap yard will appreciate not having to weigh a 1/4lb of copper, a 1/2lb of aluminum, 10lbs of cast etc. You can scrap washers and dryers as is but my truck will hold maybe 6 and thats barely worth my time and the aggravation of loading them, they can be ripped apart quickly and stored until you have enough to make it worth loading and driving to the yard, plus the motors are worth more by themselves. Small pieces of copper or brass are also best saved until you have several pounds. Car batteries are another, worth $2-7.us, some types even more, a lot of yards will give you a better price if you have multiple batteries.
Some times I find huge bags of hangers in dumpsters, second hand stores and consignment stores ALWAYS need hangers! You can sell them the bag just the way you found it or sort the hangers into shirt and pant/skirt style. I have no trouble getting $15-20.00 for a large garbage bag of pant/skirt hangers, shirt hangers bring maybe $10 a bag
Be willing to make a deal. If your store owner is hemming and hawing over the price, sweeten the deal ! Either reduce the price (you don't really want to keep hauling it around right) or throw something else in the deal it's not like it cost you much!
Step 4: Is It Worth It?
Is it worth it ? Well, the computer and flat screen I'm using now came from the curb, I have decent tv's in every room, more dvds and games than I'll ever watch, my grandkids have more toys than they know what to do with, a $150.00 set of pots and pans in an UNOPENED box recently made a great house warming gift, my possibilium pile is always changing. I don't keep a close watch on the hours I spend but its usually less than 30 a week and I can put $4-700.00 cash in my pocket a week PLUS I'm keeping unknown yardage out of the landfill... so it's worth it to me