So, you’ve almost done it all: you raised the money for those contractor-sized trash bags through your Creeklife campaign, you wrangled all the volunteers you could find in coffee shops around town, you got your hip waders on, and you got all of that trash out of your watershed and into the bed of your buddy’s truck. Now, what do you do with it?

Recycling Grunge Sign

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Some of the trash will need to be properly bagged and taken to your local dump. Other items, however, can be recycled–sometimes, in exchange for money. In this article, we’ll discuss how to raise money for an environmental project by recycling the scrap metal, which you may have collected as part of another project.

Creek cleanup crews often find themselves removing loads of scrap metal from their watersheds. Bicycles parts, hubcaps, bed frames, and other metal waste are unwelcome in our rivers and streams, but there are scrap recyclers in every community who will be happy to pay you for delivering those materials to them.

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Photo by Ingrid Taylar.

If you have permission to remove scrap metal from a cleanup area, sort it by metal type (if you can), and start calling around to see which scrap yards offer the highest price. Steel and aluminum are the most commonly recycled, fetching a fairly low price, whereas brass, copper, and bronze may just bring in enough to completely fund your next cleanup. Although the end goal is to simply recycle the material, it’s always nice to have as much funding as possible for your projects.

After you’ve found a scrap yard, you’ll need to hose off the metal you’re recycling and bring it in. Because scrap yards use a magnetic crane to sort ferrous (iron-based) metals from non-ferrous metals, it’s most convenient to use a pickup truck’s bed to bring your metals in.

day 2: everything and the kitchen sink

Photo by quietlyurban (Flickr).

Be sure to bring a photo ID when you go to the scrap yard. Because scrap yards are such a popular destination for stolen copper and other illegally-acquired items, most yards require you to register in order to recycle your scrap metal with them.

Scrap yards and other recycling centers allow watershed activists to keep metal waste out of both their watersheds and their community’s landfills. Recycling scrap metal in exchange for money is easy, and it serves the dual purpose of cleaning up the environment and raising money for another environmental project.

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