Barter Your Junk

By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at >


"One person's junk is another person's treasure." That's old saying, and it's true. We can take old junk (and some newer junk), and trade it for treasure.

Sometimes it will be buried treasure -- buried under a pile of old shirts in our attic, or under the lid of a cardboard box in our garage. We will feel like Long John Silver (the pirate) as we look for that buried treasure. It is valuable to us, because we can sell that antique dish at Smith's Antique Store. And we can sell the old FM radio in a newspaper ad.

We will be rewarded for turning junk into something which people can use again. When we earn money, we can get that video game or that skate board without having to bother our Dad and Mom for it.

"We don't have enough money to get everything which Bill wants," said the parents of an 11-year-old boy in Barterburg. "That doesn't mean that we don't love him. We wish that he could earn some money himself."

Of course, no one can afford everything, not even a millionaire. We can have a wonderful life without being rich, because "the best things in life are free." Even without a lot of money, we can be happy, have friends, and enjoy ourselves. Look for the fun activities that don't cost anything -- riding our bicycle, talking with our buddies, climbing a big oak tree.

However, even when we are doing those things, we still need money (or a way to barter). We will need a new bike someday. Our buddies will want to go to a movie with us on Saturday. We will decide to get a new joystick from a computer superstore. And that's when we will need money. We can earn it by turning junk into cash.

"Junk is a great way to get money, because most people don't bother with it,'' said a red-haired girl who gets old newspapers from her neighbors and then sells them to a recycler.

People usually throw junk away, and they are too busy to sell their old stuff. So they might give their junk to us for free. Then, with a little work, we can sell or barter the things. That is a good deal for us.

Sometimes we can make junk into something new, by repairing it or by using it in a craft project.

We can even start our own business -- recycling newspapers, or having a paperback book "lending library," or selling old stuff as a regular part-time job. (If you plan to start a business, be certain to learn about the taxes and laws.)

Mrs. Jones will thank us for hauling off that metal chair that has been taking up space in her dark attic. (We will sell the chair for $10 after we advertise it on a bulletin board at Schroeder's Supermarket.) Margaret will be glad to give us her broken plastic dolls. They have been making her sad since they broke, but she can't bear to put them into the trash. (We will repair the dolls and sell them for $5 each, at a special party where people bring stuff to barter and sell.)

And everybody will be delighted to see the cans and bottles picked up from the playground on Stanter Street. (We can turn that trash into cash, by recycling it.)

Some junk can be just as good as the new stuff, so we can sell it easily. If a book (or a Superman comic book) has been read once or twice, it is as good as it ever was. Someone else can buy it and read it. A baseball bat hardly ever wears out, although it might have dents and dirt on it. These things are thrown away, because the owner doesn't want them any more. But they are as good as new to another person. That's why we can make money getting junk from one person and selling it to another.

Some things -- like antiques and collectors' items -- are worth even more as they become older. A bright red poster from the 1960 presidential campaign was worth nothing in 1960, but it is worth money now to a collector. Some of the things which we have now will be valuable many years from today. We will remember our "good old days," too, when we think about the money which we earned from turning junk into money.

Trash might not make us the richest kid in the neighborhood, but it might help us to barter for a better 10-speed bike to go around the neighborhood. And we can buy a new camera for taking pictures of our neighborhood, which might become a cleaner, nicer place to live.