I'm a Scrapper — The Art of Turning Metal into Money

I'm a Scrapper — The Art of Turning Metal into Money

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Aluminum, tin, brass, metal, and copper — they all scream out money to me. With the tough economy, I have to pull pennies out of the dirt. I’m what some call a “scrapper.” I pick up scraps of recyclable items left out by companies or demolition sites and recycle them. It might sound easy, but the art of scrapping is something that takes time and talent to master. It’s like a game where time can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

To scrap, you usually need a truck or a van to haul off the large items. Then you would take them to a recycling garage where prices are posted daily with how much your items are worth. Usually there is a scale for you to weigh your items on. Basically, any item is worth money as long as long as it doesn’t stick to a magnet. It can be almost anything: wire, pipes, tables, computers, large complicated of equipment that could be taken apart and stripped for cash.

But don’t get it confused, I don’t steal or vandalize. I take and keep the environment clean. But some folks have given scrappers a bad name by destroying property in order to get a bit of copper wire. Lately, there has been a lot of controversy behind scrapping and law enforcement has really made an effort to crack down on scrappers. They have been advertising their efforts in the news, and setting up traps. When I say traps I mean leaving small amounts of shiny aluminum for the scrapper to take and BOOM — caught on camera.

In scrapping, timing is everything, disguise is what will make you invincible, and knowing where to cash in and slang your scraps to the fullest is what makes you your green. I was taught how to be scrapper by an O.G. He showed me all the hot spots and how to scout. Since I’m a girl, it’s easier for me to get better prices because it’s rare for a pretty woman to step out and negotiate a man’s work. On an average five hour day I would make anywhere from $200 to $600. With that kind of income why go back to a 9 to 5? The money is fast, easy, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could lead to a felony.

Companies and construction sites have grown frustrated with scrappers, because some scrappers don’t have respect. They leave a mess, take new products, and destroy sites that then take several months to rebuild from the damage made. You got to respect other people’s time, because if not, time won’t be by your side. Another reason companies are upset is because scrap piles are worth a good amount of money. Therefore, they don’t want scrappers to come up off their profitable items. As a scrapper, I carefully select what I take. I prefer to take items that are really just scrap, not brand new items that will be used. My favorite item to come across is copper and aluminum. Other metal like tin and brass aren’t worth as much. For copper you could get up to $2.50 per lb. So if I have 200 lbs., your looking at an easy $500 just to pick up money from the floor and transporting it.

The scrapper lifestyle can be addicting. It hurts to go back to paying taxes and making an “honest buck” when what I do is hard work, and at the end of the day I feel like its good money earned. I love scrapping, its fun and it gets my heart racing. It also helps the environment and pays the bills. Always remember, when you’re making fast money give some back to the community. Whether it be a homeless person on the street or your little sister wanting you to buy her an ice cream. Never be greedy with free money. I personally have turned down jobs, and my hustle notch, because scrapping isn’t my career, I just use it as a temp job when necessary.

To all you prospecting scrappers, don’t go on a rampage and take any metal piece in sight. Weigh out the scene, in and out, be quick, and always bless and give thanks to the business you take from. My palms are itchy, I think it’s time to clean my environment.

The name of the author has been removed to protect her anonymity.
Photo by Thomas Bresson from Wikipedia Commons.
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