5 Ways to Get Paid for Protecting the Environment

Make money, earn points for recycling household items, electronics.

ByABC News
April 8, 2010, 6:04 PM

April 9, 2010— -- Did you know that you can make some green by going green?

While recycling, saving energy and other kinds of eco-friendly actions are good habits on their own, a growing number of organizations are offering economic incentives to those who opt for greener ways to live their lives.

"I think basically anything that helps increase recycling is a good thing," said Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The incentives certainly work."

From organizations that pay money for certain kinds of recyclable items to reward programs that give points that can be redeemed in grocery stores or pharmacies, she said incentive-based programs are shifting the thinking on recycling and leading to results.

"All of those things seem to capture the interest of the public and get them interested a little more than just the bins do," she said.

Here are five programs you might want to check out:

In more than 300 communities in 26 states, RecycleBank rewards recyclers by the pound.

A microchip attached to recycling bins tracks how much each household recycles. Those pounds of recycled material translate into points that can be redeemed at a variety of retail partners, including Bed, Bath & Beyond and CVS pharmacies.

"The idea is that while we all would love to recycle, and many people do, a lot of people need to be incentive to do it," said Melody Serafino, a spokeswoman for RecycleBank. "In this economy, offering people valuable rewards for doing something good and green is really beneficial."

She said each pound of recycled material equals 2.5 points and the average household accumulates about $400 worth of points in one year.

RecycleBank already partners with Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and Hartford and will launch a pilot program with Los Angeles later this month. The service has already diverted 208,317 tons from the waste stream and saved 5.1 million trees, Serafino said.