3 Eco-Friendly Entrepreneurs Who Got Paid For Recycling

It pays to be eco-friendly. Just ask these 3 recycling gurus who were rewarded when they took the time to do some recycling.

eco-friendly entrepreneurs
Image: andyarthur


Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

That’s the mantra we get taught in school. But in today’s fast paced disposable society, taking the time to recycle can often seem more hassle than it’s worth.

Well, to encourage you, here are a few true stories about 3 individuals who accidentally got paid because of their choice to recycle what they had.

And we’re not talking loose change. In fact, this trio were each paid so much that they were featured in media stories across the Internet, wrote books about their experiences, had movie deals, sparked eco-revolutions around the world…one even had a day in October celebrated in honour of his recycling achievement.


All this from recycling I hear you ask?

You bet. Let’s get to the stories so you can see what I mean.


Kyle MacDonald’s One Red Paperclip

Image: Scott Beale


In 2005, 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald wanted his own house. The problem was that he was unemployed and had no money to buy one.



He decided to use the Internet to trade a simple red paperclip that was lying on his desk…for a house.

A year and 14 trades later, Kyle achieved his goal and moved into a three-bedroom house in Kipling, Saskatchewan.

Kyle is a bit of an eco-friendly marvel, having personally planted “more than 100,000 trees”. But it was his decision to recycle a red paperclip, combined with his creativity, that lead him to creating a viral sensation on the Internet, a three-bedroom house, a best-selling book on Amazon and even having MGM option his book to make a film out of it.


Caine’s Cardboard Arcade

Image: Leslie Kalohi


In the summer of 2011, 9-year old Caine Monroy was feeling bored.

He’d been spending his summer weekends at his father George’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles. The store had little foot traffic and Caine wanted something to do. So he asked his Dad if he could use the cardboard boxes in the store’s warehouse to build an Arcade in the front of the auto parts store. George said yes, thankful for something to keep his son busy, and Caine got to work building elaborate games and mazes out of cardboard.


Caine only had one customer

But that customer – Nirvan Mullick – ended up making an 11-minute documentary about Caine’s Arcade that had more than 2 million views in four days. The video led to a flash mob organised over the Internet where 100 people from around the United States descended on the tucked away auto parts store to play the games in Caine’s Arcade. And all of this attention and interest swelled into:

  • Over 8 million views of the 11-minute Caine’s Arcade documentary
  • A $236,000 Scholarship fund for Caine’s College education
  • A second documentary called Caine’s Arcade 2
  • A Tedx Talk given by Caine

In addition, Caine and Nirvan helped launch the annual Global Cardboard Challenge. This is a worldwide celebration of creativity where kids are challenged in the month of September to create and build using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. And then on October 5th, the anniversary of the first flash mob to Caine’s Arcade, communities around the world come together to celebrate what has been dubbed the annual Day of Play.

All of this…from the simple decision to recycle a few cardboard boxes in a creative way.


Khoa Phan’s 6-Second Stop-motion Paper Movies on Vine

What can you do with a stack of old construction paper?

Well, if you’re Khoa Phan, you use it to create reality-defying stop-motion vines on the 6-second video platform that was launched by Twitter in 2012.

Khoa’s constant recycling of paper across Vine videos has resulted in:

  • Over 17,000 followers
  • Two nominations at Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival
  • Opportunities to collaborate with companies like Red Vines and Coca Cola

Also, Khoa’s animations led to a 12-Vine deal with Peanuts Worldwide to create animations for Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of Charles Schulz’s cartoon strip characters.

Not bad for a bit of creative paper recycling.


What will you create with your recycling today?

The common thread of these three stories is that of “recycling plus creativity”. Each one of these individuals mixed their commitment to being green with their innate creativity, and experienced amazing results.


You can do the same.

So when you’re in the middle of a house clearance as part of your spring clearing, the question is: what will you create with your recycling today?


Author: Junk4Joy is one of the UK’s fastest growing waste disposal and recycling companies. Visit our website to find out how we can help you with your house clearance and spring cleaning today.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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