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This growing trend is saving savvy shoppers hundreds of dollars a year

Just a tenth of your wardrobe a year can earn you $100 of cash or store credit.

Just a tenth of your wardrobe a year can earn you $100 of cash or store credit.

Photo Credit: iStock

If you're throwing out your belongings when you don't want them anymore, you're wasting a surprisingly valuable resource. The secondhand market for used but still usable items like clothes, shoes, and electronics is a profitable one. 

By swapping your old stuff, you can save more than just storage space. For example, trading in just a tenth of your old, unwanted clothes a year can earn you $100 of cash or store credit

Plus, you'll be keeping that stuff out of the landfill. Since the average American throws away over 80 pounds of clothing every year, making some trade-ins instead can seriously help you cut that number down.

Swapping your old clothes

If you have like-new, high-end clothing items to get rid of, the classic advice is to take them to a consignment shop to get the best price for the least effort. But what do you do with items that don't meet that standard?

First, check the brand. Many companies, like The North Face, Levi's, and Carhartt, have programs where they'll accept their old items back. The North Face will trade you $10 toward your next purchase, while Levi's pays $5 to $30 of store credit. Carhartt provides gift cards on the spot for qualifying clothes. 

You can find out whether a particular brand has this type of incentive program by searching online for the brand name and "trade-in" or "buyback." Depending on the program, you may be able to get cash, store credit, or a new replacement item.

Next, even if a specific manufacturer doesn't have a relevant program, you can often find a program accepting items from any brand. 

Marine Layer, for example, will take cotton T-shirts for $5 of store credit apiece no matter where you bought them, and GotSneakers pays cash for any brand of sneakers. 

Even if you can't get money back for your items, it may still be worth turning them in. Some programs will recycle your old clothing. While this may not pay for your new wardrobe, it will help you avoid overfilling your trash can or taking a trip to the dump. 

Cotton Incorporated is one such nonprofit that accepts blue jeans by mail to be recycled, and it even offers free shipping.

Swapping your old electronics

E-waste — electronic trash, including old devices and batteries — is a big and growing problem. In fact, it's the fastest-growing waste category as people worldwide endlessly swap out phones and computers for the latest upgrade. 

Many manufacturers design these devices to break down or become obsolete quickly so people will be forced to buy new ones. 

However, e-waste often contains harmful chemicals that ordinary trash and recycling facilities aren't designed to handle, making it extremely important to dispose of correctly.

The good news is that there are recycling facilities equipped to process e-waste and recover valuable materials from your old devices, so it's usually very easy to find companies that will pay for them. 

If you just want cash for your e-waste, Microsoft offers up to $500 on select trade-ins, and Gazelle and Decluttr both provide cash, too. Apple offers store credit, with some items drawing payouts of up to $1,000 or more.

Want credit at a store that sells stuff besides electronics? Amazon, Walmart, and Costco have you covered. Each offers gift cards that can be used on food, home goods, and anything else you can find inside.

If all you want is to get rid of your old phone with minimal hassle and ensure it's recycled correctly, you can send it to Big Sky Recycling

Big Sky repairs and recycles the phones it receives, then uses the profits to support charities, including Operation Shoebox, a program supplying U.S. soldiers with phone cards and care packages.

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