Get Paid $30 – $50 Per Hour To Pick Up Trash

Hello! Today, I have a great article from Brian Winch. Brian makes a living (it’s a $650,000+ per year business for him) by picking up trash. I’ve been hearing his story a lot recently, so when he asked to write for Making Sense of Cents, I, of course, said YES! Below is his story and…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 16, 2024

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Hello! Today, I have a great article from Brian Winch. Brian makes a living (it’s a $650,000+ per year business for him) by picking up trash. I’ve been hearing his story a lot recently, so when he asked to write for Making Sense of Cents, I, of course, said YES! Below is his story and advice.

Brian makes a living (it's a $650,000+ per year business for him) by picking up trash. He knows of people who are making an extra $20,000 - $40,000 a year on the side, simply by cleaning up litter.The number one reason to work a side hustle is to make extra income on the side. Show me one person who wouldn’t like to boost their income! Besides the positive cash flow, by using your non-work hours more productively, here are some advantages of launching your own side hustle idea:

Creative outlet. You may be really successful within your career, but are you passionate about it? What do you do in your spare time as soon as you clock out at your job? Having a side hustle focused on your hobby can provide a positive outlet for your creative energy.

Freedom.  When you are focused on your side hustle you are your own boss.  Not only are you free from management but also in my case I am able to be physically free and not chained to a desk.

Income diversification.  Losing a job can put the average person into a tailspin – especially if they don’t have a backup plan. In this unfortunate scenario your side hustle can be your backup plan for a while. Having multiple streams of income can also help in case of medical emergencies, if you decide to change jobs, or are faced with relocation.

Skill building. Entrepreneurs learn to wear many hats in their business. Without a dedicated HR, IT, Accounting, or Marketing Department you’ll come to realize that you must figure out how to do things you may have relied on others to manage in the past. Who knows- you may even be able to apply these new skills at your regular job.

Balance. Working a side hustle means you will be naturally more engaged and busy! Saying “No.” to obligatory invitations or extraneous requests will become second nature. We have to admit to ourselves that there’s a limit to how much we can do in a day, and when we do we allow ourselves to prioritize our life and focus on what’s most important- achieving a healthy balance.

Reaching financial goals. You may have your financial future mapped out through retirement. But wouldn’t you like to get there quicker? A side hustle helps you earn that extra cash to accelerate your financial progress.

There are an unlimited number of ways to make extra money on the side. My advice on selecting a side hustle idea is to take stock of what inspires you and makes you happy. Look for a light bulb moment. When my light bulb went off I pursued my side hustle idea and found financial freedom- and you can too!

Related content on making extra money:

As Easy as Taking a Walk

In 1981 I was at a personal crossroads. Day in and day out I went to my unfulfilling full time job at a sporting goods store. I was miserable. I was uninspired. I was lacking motivation. Was this going to be my life? Something inside me yearned for more, but here I was with a high school diploma, a small savings account and plenty of bills to pay. What could I possibly do?

One day, inspiration hit as I recalled that my father used to make extra money on the side by cleaning up litter in a local shopping plaza. I had gone along with him a few times as a kid, and I remembered thinking how easy it was. It was literally a case of us walking around the property cleaning up litter before the stores opened the next day and getting paid for it. This was my light bulb moment.

My motivation started kicking in and I began to think about how I could successfully develop this side hustle idea. I began contacting property management companies and offered to clean their retail, office and warehouse properties on a daily basis. This was work I could accomplish before and after my full time job at the sporting goods store! As I began signing on more and more properties I realized I had a viable business on my hands. I was now feeling empowered!

After just two months of this side hustle adventure I was making more income than at my full time job. Can you guess what I did next? Yep- I quit my job, and Cleanlots was born.

Yes, you can actually get paid to walk.

Benefits of Owning a Parking Lot Litter Removal Business

Would most people describe my business as glamorous?

Probably not, but a litter removal job has many personal advantages – if you can see past the trash. How successful you become depends only on your work ethic, persistence and attitude. In the 35+ years I’ve been running Cleanlots I’ve enjoyed these many benefits:

It doesn’t interfere with a 9-5 job. You can continue to work at your primary job and make extra money on the side with litter clean up. Parking lot litter removal is done out of the sight of customers-which means late nights or early mornings. Personally, I enjoy working outdoors in the early morning of the day. Hearing the first song birds of the day, working in the cooler temperatures before the day heats up, early morning dew and observing occasional wildlife in those dawn hours. Often I’m offered morning coffee or a late night slice of pizza from clients who appreciate the work that I’m doing.

Routine. I find comfort in having a daily routine. I can go on autopilot but still accomplish the task at hand. Don’t think that means this job is boring. I always have interesting, sometimes funny stories to share of my cleaning adventures (see Bonus finds! below).  It is also a great use of time to listen to music or your favorite podcast while you work.

Low-risk.  When I decided to start my side hustle idea I only invested $200. When you think of the potential income, $200 is a worthwhile investment. There are no special skills or training involved.  (Remember: I started this business with only a high school diploma!). You can grow your business as slow or as fast as you like. Eventually, I grew my business enough to recruit others to help me with the cleanup work. Now that $200 side hustle investment has turned into a $650,000+ per year business. 

No hassles. Once I complete my work I have the rest of the day to do as I please. Self-employment means no time clock to punch. No traffic jams to stress out over. No boss to report to! If you can get to the point where you’re successful and can quit your regular job, I guarantee you will enjoy being your own boss and never look back. Self-employment is where I found my independence, freedom and empowerment.

Recession-proof. There is no shortage of work in this business. Are people littering less than 30 years ago? NO! People don’t tend to think litter is an issue unless they shop at a messy property. Smokers still toss their butts as they please. I’ve witnessed people empty out their vehicles in a parking lot even though a waste dumpster was nearby. It’s a shame! And property owners have a hard time keeping up. That’s where we step in! Live in a high growth area? Even better. Isn’t it amazing how many commercial properties with parking lots there are? Consider how many of these were built within the past ten years. All of these properties must be maintained litter-free on a regular basis.

Green industry.  I have a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that my business is making for a cleaner, greener environment. Not everyone wants to clean up after people- I get it. More money for those of us that do! I enjoy making a noticeable impact in my community with this green service.

No expensive equipment to buy. When I first started I used the standard tools such as brooms, dustpans and litter grabber tools. You may even already have these in your household. A special litter scoop tool can be found at your local cleaning supplies store for less than $50. You’ll find what works best for you. I discovered a gem of a litter collection tool that allows me to sweep up nearly as fast as I can walk. Not only did it speed up my cleaning times but it can also pick up even the smallest litter materials resulting in increased efficiency.

Exercise. How many jobs can you name that will pay you to take a walk? When I first started out and was doing all the litter removal myself, I walked a few miles a day. Put on your pedometer or personal fitness tracker and see how many steps you take in a day! You are taking care of yourself as well as your customers and the environment.

Bonus finds! You would not believe some of the items I’ve come across during my litter removal adventures. In addition to typical litter (food wrappers, drink cups, cigarette butts), I sometimes find articles of clothing, cell phones, wallets and even money! I return any valuables that can be identified, however crumpled up bills are thrilling to encounter and go right in my pocket. Years ago I found a crumpled $2 bill on the ground, and I was even more surprised to discover a $100 bill wrapped inside of it. Another time I noticed a grimy roll of bills next to the waste dumpster as I went to empty my collecting bag. After taking it home and drying it out (it looked like it had been there for quite some time), I counted up all the bills – $600! Someone’s careless loss turned into my profitable gain.

Opportunity: Make Money by Taking a Walk

If you’re thinking that a parking lot litter removal side hustle might be right for you here are three steps you can take today to make extra money on the side.

You can charge $30 – $50 per hour. In fact, I know of people who are making an extra $20,000 – $40,000 a year on the side, simply by cleaning up litter.

First, take a drive. Just think of all the potential cleaning contracts you have in your community. Look at all the commercial properties in your area. Shopping plazas, office buildings, warehouse sites. All are potential contracts. Most property managers don’t want to do the “dirty job” themselves. But you do, and they’ll pay you handsomely to do it. Month after month. Year after year.

Second, create a list of contacts. I have found that Commercial Real Estate Management companies are your best source for business. They are contracted by property owners to manage and maintain their commercial properties. A management company typically has several properties in their portfolio. One good management company contact could turn into dozens of potential contracts.

Third, lean on me, Brian Winch. I developed a step-by-step guide on how to start and run a parking lot litter cleaning business. This is an operations manual that will help you set up, launch, and run your side hustle. I’m also dedicated to your success and am available by phone to talk you through any questions you may have.

I’m often asked, “If this business is so good, why share it with anyone?” The fact is this business is successful at the local level. I couldn’t operate in your city just as you couldn’t in mine. The truth is, I have nothing to lose by teaching you what I know and much more to gain by “letting” you in on my secrets – which will be to our mutual benefit. It becomes a win/win situation for the both of us!

No matter which side hustle idea you choose to pursue I implore you to get started today! Take those non-work hours and make them work for you! Enjoy all the creativity, diversification, balance, personal growth and financial freedom that a side hustle can provide. You won’t regret it.

How does picking up trash for extra money sound to you?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. It’s such a shame that so many people treat the world as their personal trashcan (looking at you, smokers) – but good for this guy! This is a great way to capitalize on a niche and as he said he gets to walk and be active.

    I would definitely consider doing this since I already sometimes clean up trash in the park behind my house for free!

    1. It is unfortunate that some people expect others to clean up after them. That creates an opportunity to make money from that behavior. Good for you in doing your part to keep your neighborhood litter free!

      1. Anne Ebert

        Awesome. I’m going to begin with my teenagers. Thank you great idea for all the reasons you listed.

    2. John Myers

      My name is John Myers and I was want to know how to start up that small business of the lettering picking up trash so I live in the state of Ohio and there so much later and trash don’t start our roads and back roads pick up trash myself but I don’t get paid for it

    3. If EVERYONE – who is a human litterbug – would clean up their messes,we’d all live in a healthier world.I go around my city – and see all the trash on the streets and sidewalks,and wonder HOW IN THE WORLD does the city garbage system earn a living.

  2. My husband always wanted to be a garbageman, but in time his desires changed and he became an environmental engineer. I will definitely be sharing this with him! Maybe his childhood dream job can become his hustle!

    1. Good for him! All the best.

  3. What a great side hustle, or full-time gig – make good money, get exercise, help the planet, feel good about yourself! Really inspiring!

    1. Thanks Barnaby. That was my goal when I started out in 1981.

  4. Sounds like an interesting side hustle. I know that money is good. A lot of people hate dealing with trash.

    1. It is Jason. People create litter. Someone will clean it up.

  5. Yes. I was also featured on that blog. I’m happy to have inspired you! Thanks.

  6. Ok this is super interesting. Where I live this job would be really hard in the winter though!

    A few other thoughts… my husband used to work at an amusement park doing this (his job was called being a “sweep”) and they had a policy that employees had to turn in any money they found.

    My mom likes to walk for exercise and has become quite adept at finding coins in parking lots and on the sides of streets. I guess there are bloggers that write about that too – they blog how much money they find each day and where!

    1. Holly, this service needs to be performed year-round, regardless of weather conditions outside. In fact I clean up more coffee cups during the winter months than any other time of year. If you’re doing the work for yourself (self-employed) the money’s yours. Good for your mom!

  7. Online income opportunities allow anyone to work on their side hustle in their spare time and do what they love doing as a passionate labor of love, turning a hobby into a million-dollar Internet business and giving God praise along the way! πŸ™‚

    I love the fact that you continue to be a league leader in side hustle blogging and a positive example of a millionaire blogger. It’s on literally every news network across America and on YouTube today discussing the hottest trending topic of “the side hustle.” The side hustle is helping people gain financial freedom and quit their day jobs like you did a few years back. This is the one thing I truly love about the “side hustle.” Working on the side allows anyone to build their own business with the intent on quitting their job and being their own boss. I have to agree with you that a side hustle is intended to make extra income on the side, and anyone who doesn’t want to boost their income is an absolute fool in my personal opinion. Agree?

    Side hustle is nothing more than a creative outlet. As it allows anyone to unleash their creativity. Everyone is good at something. Most people who feel stuck today in the jobs don’t have a clue how to start a side hustle on the Internet. Little do they know they can take those rambling thoughts in the back of their minds and just like you, start a side hustle blog as a hobby, working on it slowly but surely with the intent to gain financial freedom. Some people still don’t harness the complete power of using the Internet to work from home and start a hustle to earn a future full-time income without needing a day job. I’m passionate about the side hustle. I’m passionate about the Internet. I’m passionate about affiliate marketing. And very little do people know they’re already sitting on a gold mine. Some people have so many things around or in their apartment or house they could discuss in a blog that they’re not tuning into the bigger picture of how powerful “side hustle blogging” can truly work for them. A prime example would be having vintage comic books talk the way from 30 or 40 years ago in brand new mint condition, untouched. Someone could easily start a “vintage comic book side hustle blog,” and earn good money discussing their vintage comic book collection without selling one comic book on or Agree?

    I love the freedom associated with the side hustle. It allows me to be my own boss. But I do keep in mind that the side hustle does not provide pension nor additional retirement benefits, doesn’t provide a healthcare plan because I have to pay my own health care as a “side hustle entrepreneur,” and have to be mindful of my spending habits. I have to admit I have been doing a tidbit of emotional spending lately on purchasing remastered vintage items from the past, shopping online and going a little wild on discretionary spending. I always wanted my own business because I love the freedom associated such as waking up in the morning anytime I please and not having to worry about my brain spinning about getting in the shower, getting dressed, and rushing out the door to a cushy day job. There is a good question you posed in your blog where you said “What do you do in your spare time as soon as you clock out at your job?” Back in the day when I knew nothing or fathom the thought about starting a side hustle and wasn’t in the complete entrepreneurial mindset I’m in today, I would come home for work and do whatever. Whether it was going to the gym, sleeping, making something to eat, or other normal stuff. I guess this is what separates the haves from the have-nots. The rich from the middle class and the poor. I guess it’s safe to say if I’m not wrong that it’s the mindset that determines a person’s net worth in a business sense. Am I right? If not, I welcome you to school me because I always have much to learn. πŸ™‚

    The beauty of the side hustle is that anyone can start this while having a full or part-time position. The side hustle allows anyone from anywhere in the world with it instant connection to the Internet to diversify their income strategies by blogging, creating squeeze pages to sell affiliate products and services, freelance work for clients, YouTube video marketing, and the list goes on. One thing I really love about the Internet in terms of income diversification is there’s millions of affiliate programs and money making opportunities available to everyone. A side hustle entrepreneur. As a side hustle entrepreneur-solo per nor, one must be able to diversify themselves when performing different functions in order to sustain themselves in their side hustle strives to entrepreneurial greatness.

    I love the side hustle because it accelerates my progress toward saving up as much is possible for potential retirement. Although on the other hand, I’m not really looking forward to retiring doing what I love doing.

    1. A side gig is a necessity for many people these days.

      1. You can say that again! πŸ™‚

      2. Scott

        I’m very interested in doing this. But I still am unsure how would the potential clients pay me for my work? Would they pay in cash or would they have the money you earn go into my bank account?

        1. They pay you by check or direct deposit after receiving your monthly invoice.

        2. Gregory Grillo

          I am interested as well I have a job but need extra cash and it’s sounds corny but I am passionate about nature and animals and keeping the environment as clean as possible for animals and people. If someone can point me in the direction to do this and make some money while doing it I will give it 110 percent effort. I would appreciate it thank you !

  8. Mack

    Sounds like a great side hustle for someone who does not mind working outdoors (that would be me!) I’ll work up a list of questions and hit you up for details. Thanks for the great article.

    1. You’re correct. Not everyone wants to sit behind a desk all day (no offence to those that do). Click the image next to my name for more details.

  9. Picking up trash sounds good to me! I like a lot that it’s basically a win win situation for everyone. Are there procedures for special areas or materials that need safety measures (needles etc.)?

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks Lily. You notify your clients if you find unknown fluids or needles. Their operations staff will deal with it.

  10. What a sweet, sweet job! I love how this is good for oneself (exercise, giving, receiving), the environment, and the community. Everywhere we go in the USA there is an environmental litter problem and it’s so important to tackle this issue. Beautiful! Congratulations and well done!

    1. Thank you Kristen. Litter is a problem that doesn’t go away. People’s attitudes need to change. We don’t get the public service commercials we once did many years ago. Check out Keep America Beautiful for some classic public service announcements from the 1970’s.

  11. Lisa

    Is anyone else getting an “Access Denied – This request was blocked by the security rules” message when they try to click on Brian’s links in the article?

    I really enjoyed the article but cannot get into the other areas indicated to learn more…


    1. Have you tried again and been successful? Try clicking the image next to my name. You should be connected to my website to learn more.

  12. Anonymous

    I’ve got living proof this is viable. Iam currently staying with my mother-in law and she happens to own a small garbage collection company. She’s managed to build a house and six flats which she rents out from the business income.And this is in Africa. Soo trash collection anywhere works!!!

  13. It’s a very gratifying service to provide in your community. Thanks.

  14. Maddie

    How are personal safety risks lessened when working outside of business hours?

    1. There are far fewer people about outside of business hours. You need to exercise some common sense; be aware of your surroundings. You can work early mornings (after 4-5 am, or later) without any problems. In over 35 years, I’ve never had an incident where I was concerned for my safety.

  15. David

    Do you have to have a DBA? In what professional matter do you approach these people and what do you say

    1. Yes, if you choose to start your own business. All topics are covered in my book, Cleanlots. I provide free support.

  16. Jaque Christo

    Thank you for the post on how to get paid to pick up trash. I had never thought about simply picking up trash for companies before they opened. You could easily do that before or after a current job like you did and just make a little extra money on the side or turn it into a profitable business again like you did.

    1. You’re welcome Jaque. You can make as much money as you want from performing this green service.

  17. Chris Dees

    How Can I get more info?

    1. Simply click the red colored links in the post.

  18. Debbie

    What a great side hustle, I will consider doing this after retirement!

  19. Henry

    Contact me I would like to know some ballpark figures to charge companies….so can hire some help.

    1. These topics are covered in my book, Cleanlots.

  20. Jalyn

    What does the hired helpers earn and how can they find this type of employment? I have a teen son that will be looking soon for a job!

    1. Earnings vary across the country. Contact parking lot maintenance (power sweeping), landscape maintenance contractors, building maintenance contractors and of course parking lot litter removal, litter control or litter pick services. Good luck!

  21. Carlyn Morales

    I live in a rural area where the main litter issues are on the outskirts away from businesses and homes. Is there a way to somehow get paid to picking up litter in those areas? I seriously doubt the landowners would pay me to do so. I have to figure something out. Everyone is talking about doing this and that but no one is actually getting out their and doing it. I also wonder if there is any legal issues with picking up trash on side the road. Do I have to have a police escort? Do I have to get permission from landowners to pick up on the road side of their property? I’m on to something, I just have to iron out the details and make it happen.

    1. Great question! Check with the local county or municipality. They may contract this out. I know many governments use convicts or people to provide “community service” to do this work. Many people also volunteer through Keep America Beautiful. The big money to be made is from working with property management companies who manage commercial properties. Best of luck!

  22. Priscilla

    Neat idea! How much does it cost to drop off the garbage to the dump? Or do you just toss it in local garbage cans outside shops?

    1. You dump into the waste bins on site.

  23. It’s truly amazing how picking up the trash and for some, old cans off the side of a road or out of people’s trash cans made them the millionaire they are today. They may have started out picking up the trash, but they also had an entrepreneurial vision where they wanted to be later down the road. They used adversity from all corners of the earth, including slander form family members to put themselves in the driver’s seat to become a future “side hustle millionaire.” While picking up trash was never anyone’s original career idea, the idea and doing the transformation business work by staying the course paid off by making them “side hustle millionaires.” πŸ™‚

  24. Mira Redmond

    I live in Hanahan South Carolina in an Apartment complex and I complained about the trash around the parkinglot. I was told that they were looking for somebody to pick up the trash so I volunteered. I was told that the pay was only $100 per month. So I agreed to $50 on the 15th and on the 30th of each month. Now after two months I get a check for $25 reduced to $50 a month. If that is the pay, I declined the offer.

    1. I don’t blame you Mira. I wouldn’t work for that little money either. The real money is in commercial accounts – retail, office and industrial properties.

      1. Zahara

        Are you still doing it and what is the age range

        1. Yes. I still enjoy providing this service each day. You can be any age so long as you are healthy enough to go for walks and reliable to show up to do the work.

  25. Juli

    Do your services extend into the winter months?

    1. Yes. This service is performed year round, regardless of the season. I clean up more discarded coffee cups during winter than any other time of year.

  26. William

    What is this gonna cost me

    1. Business startup costs vary depending on each situation. Besides the initial cost of the book, you’ll need to set up a home office, purchase some hand tools, invest in marketing and obtain business insurance. You can start on a shoestring budget working as a side hustle as I did for less than $500.

  27. Tanner Parmer

    is it possible two get paid by Washington State for picking up garbage on road and highway sides?

  28. Danny Larsen

    hello I’ve been laid off as an electrician and I’m trying to pay bills. in my area there is always people littering all over the desert. I’ve picked it up for free many times but id like to see if I can be paid to do it. I help the area and it helps me keep a roof over my head. id like to avoid the per hour pay because I always work way to hard for insufficient pay. I can get more done over all with fast pace rather then tryi g to drag out little work to make the amount i need. I can clean a massive yard in an hour or two and pay my rent or i can slowly try to get many hours for the work which is what makes me not willing to do the work. I get bored and it takes most my time. there are not enough hours in a day to achieve my goals. how do I get paid for cleaning up others trash and give myself freedom in life. 9to5 gives me a day and a half of each week never happy never experiencing life just working and never earning enough. while others done do anything and make millions for dumb reasons.