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Making Money in Thailand | Collect Recyclables

Collect Recyclables

Overview and How to Get Started

Some people who turn to recycling plastics, cans, and bottles are motivated by living a minimalist lifestyle. Some have reached their limits of what they can do in a job situation working for others, and decide to do this until they can figure out another solution. Here in Thailand, there are a number of foreign expat guys (it always seems to be guys) that spend every last dollar they have and are reduced to begging in the street for enough money to buy food to survive (on alcohol, or other non-essentials, usually) until tomorrow.

Thailand is a country that doesn’t recycle nearly as much as they could. There are thousands of plastic bottles, and aluminum cans laying all over the place. Thais throw trash on the side of the road, sometimes even coming close to the trash cans. One major problem in the country that I noticed very quickly – there are few trash cans in public places. There might be one trash can in public for every 20 in the USA.

Maybe this is behind the seemingly total disregard for cleaning up after themselves. It is oftentimes very difficult to find a trash can to use in Thailand. There are impromptu dumping sites where lazy people take all their trash and just throw it over a hill. There are numerous recycling facilities just in this town, and the neighboring towns that could be taken advantage of.

Recycle plastic bottles, glass, aluminum cans, scrap metal – hey, if you’re desperate you can do this. There is no shortage of plastic, aluminum, and glass bottles laying around here in Thailand if you had a choice between starving and putting food on the table – you’d collect them!

Figure out where the recycling centers are in your town. Start looking for major stashes of garbage that nobody else is picking through yet.

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Recycling in Thailand Positives

  1. Set your own hours. Work at night when nobody can see you. I think that would be my plan.
  2. A steady supply of work.
  3. You’ll find random objects that can be fixed and sold.

Negatives About Recycling in Thailand

  1. Smells.
  2. Competition with other locals doing the same thing.
  3. Unless you work really hard and involve your family in it, you still may not make enough money to ‘thrive’ in Thailand.


This is one of those do it yourself opportunities that is going to require you to go out and do the work to figure out how to best go about it.

Comments About Recycling in Thailand

At a Buddhist temple I frequently visit, there is a woman about 85 years old that pushes a large cart there – I mean, like four shopping carts all put together, three kilometers, from her home to the temple, every morning. She collects recyclables on the way. Once at the temple she sits shaking a can with change. I always give her 100 THB and she’s overjoyed. Twice each day she walks around to all the trash cans on the grounds and pulls out all the glass, aluminum, and plastic bottles for her cart. She pushes her cart the three kilometers back home and does it again the next day.

Don’t say, “It’s too hot.” This old woman does it consistently in 95 Fahrenheit weather. Don’t say, “It’s too hard.” If she can do it – any healthy person can do it too. If you’re desperate for money, for whatever reason, swallow your pride and get to work. OR, go fix all the things that led you to the place you’re at.

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