If you’re looking for ways to be environmentally conscious and contribute to a more circular style economy – here’s how renting, repairing or recycling your things could help your wallet at the same time.

Renting, sharing and leasing

What better way to get more value from the products you already own? Here are a few examples of the items you could share or rent out:

1. Car share

Car-sharing with a friend, neighbour or colleague can be a great way to reduce fuel, parking and car maintenance costs. If you have an agreement with the other person to contribute to the journey, you can earn a bit of extra cash while reducing the number of vehicles on the road. You could do the same with a bike – if you rarely use it, consider lending it to someone else in return for a hire charge.

2. Rent out your home

Have you got a spare room you could rent out, or even an entire home? The Rent a Room Scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 per year, tax-free, by renting out furnished accommodation. You could rent out your home as a house swap or holiday let too. But make sure that your landlord or mortgage lender agrees to it and bear in mind any insurance implications. On a smaller scale you could even rent out your furniture, perhaps if you’ve just upgraded your living room suite and think you could earn more by renting out the old set rather than selling it.

3. Offer to help others with your skill set

Your time is precious, so why not charge for it? If you’ve got skills you could offer to the local community, start advertising. You could, for example, do odd-jobs, furniture assembly, pet-sitting or personal assistant services, or perhaps what you already do for a living, such as accounts or marketing. The options are limitless and because you can set your own rates, your earnings are only dictated by how much time you can devote to it. It could even become a viable side hustle.  

4. Lease your designer items

If you’ve got designer clothing taking up space in your wardrobe, renting them out could be a way for you to earn extra money. Sites such as My Wardrobe HQ let you list your items and set the price – minus a commission charge.

5. List your parking space

If you’ve got a big driveway or a dedicated parking space you don’t use, why not rent it out? There are plenty of online marketplaces you could list your space on, such as JustPark, and depending on your location the earnings could be reasonable – spaces in central London, for example, could earn you as much as £270 per month.1

6. Advertise storage space

If you’ve got a spare room but don’t fancy renting it out for someone to live in, or a garage with nothing to put in it, what about renting it out as storage space? Sites such as Stashbee and Storemates allow you to do just that and depending on location and type of room you have. 

Remember, these are all just suggestions, and you should always check the terms and conditions of any provider before signing up to make sure that you agree with their terms of service.

Reusing, repairing and refurbishing

It’s all too easy to throw away items as soon as they’re past their best, but a great way to become a part of the circular economy is to reuse, repair and refurbish. You could try:

7. Taking clothes to a tailor to repair (or DIY)

Even something as simple as repairing a torn hem can mean you’re not sending an item of clothing to landfill – which itself is an emitter of CO2 – and you won’t need to buy a new item either. You could even get creative and turn an old piece into a whole new outfit, and if you’re really on the lookout for something new, consider heading to charity shops or apps to buy second hand instead.

8. Sewing torn soft toys

Don’t throw away your child’s favourite toy for a new one – a few stitches could give it a new lease of life.

9. Replacing the straps on handbags

Handbags can be pricey and the straps are often the first part to show signs of wear. Again, rather than throwing it away, see if you can repair it instead. You may need an expert tailor, but it could be much cheaper than buying one brand new.

10. Upcycling items for a new use

There are a whole range of items that you could upcycle, from something as simple as updating old furniture with a lick of paint to turning old curtains into clothing items. It may take a little bit of effort, but the results could be worth it – and again, you won’t need to spend a fortune on buying brand new. 


When it comes to recycling, think beyond putting paper in your recycling bin. A lot of everyday items can be recycled in exchange for cash, such as:

11. Recycling your ink cartridges

Recycle your cartridges with sites such as Printer Cartridge Recycling and you could typically earn £2 to £3 per cartridge if it’s empty, or around £6 if it’s unused.2

12. Sending your old mobile phone to a network provider

Your old smartphone could generate hundreds of pounds if you recycle it, which could go towards a brand new model. You can often recycle with networks and mobile phone brands themselves, through sites such as Fonebank, or you could consider selling privately too. The same can apply to things like cameras, laptops and other gadgets as well, from games consoles to home security devices. Amazon even offers trade-in scheme where you can get a gift card and a discount on the purchase of a new device.

13. Bringing back your bottles and cans to supermarkets

Many of us simply put aluminium cans in the recycling bin, but if you save up enough you could recycle them for cash with dedicated services instead – though bear in mind that this may depend on your location. Some supermarkets are offering this facility as well. Sainsbury’s, for example, offers coupons if you recycle drinks cans or plastic bottles through their reverse vending machines. However, many are still trialing this kind of offer and it won’t be available in all stores.

14. Returning plastic bags

Supermarkets such as Ocado allow you to give old plastic shopping bags to your delivery driver for money off your latest delivery. Typically you’ll get around 10p per bag, so if you’ve got 50 to return, that’s £5 off your shopping. 

15. Giving musical instruments a new lease of life

If you’ve got an old musical instrument taking up dust in a cupboard, consider selling it online or taking it to a music shop to see if they’ll buy it from you. Even if it seems beyond repair, some shops and services will be able to recycle certain parts that can be used again.

16. Trading in empty make-up containers for a discount

Several make-up and beauty brands offer recycling schemes, where if you bring back empty containers you can get a discount off another purchase or even a brand new product for free. For example, MAC offers a free lipstick for every six primary packaging containers returned. While Tropic offers a voucher for a brand new item if you return five of the same empty products (only available on certain items).

17. Selling what you deem to be your household rubbish

They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, but did you know that even common household waste can be recycled for cash? Jam jars, coat hangers, ramekins and wine corks can all be sold online – often in bulk – and even things like kitchen roll tubes and bottle tops can generate a few pounds here and there.

Looking for more?

Incorporating some of these ideas into your everyday life could help make sure you’re doing your bit for the environment. Plus, with earnings potential, you could bring in some additional income.

For more tips, you can also read how acting sustainably could save you money and how you could bring your investments and personal values together.

To find out about what we’re doing at Aegon, you can visit the Corporate Sustainability section of our website.

  1. Estimated earnings calculator, based on WC1 postcode. Data source, JustPark, October 2022. 
  2. Examples of printer cartridge recycling earnings. Data source, printercartridgerecycling.co.uk, October 2022.


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