How I Make $50,000+ A Year Picking Up Garbage

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission for purchases made through these links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Today I’d like to bring you inspiration for simple, yet profitable, side hustle idea.

Brian Winch started his lucrative six-figure business with nothing more than a broom, dustpan, phone, and a few business forms.

Brian enjoys the freedom and flexibility of being his own boss and says you can do it, too. This job is physically demanding but is really rewarding. Read further if you don’t mind getting a little dirty!

Before we get started, make sure to sign up for my free resource library and get access to exclusive printables all about saving money and building wealth, meal planning, and more.

How I Got Started

In 1981 I was earning a modest income at a sporting goods store, but I had a desire for more money. I dreamed of being an entrepreneur, but I was hesitant because I only had a high school education and hardly any start-up cash.

One day, inspiration hit as I recalled that my father used to moonlight cleaning up litter in a local shopping plaza. I had gone along with him a few times as a kid, and I remembered thinking how easy it was.

It was a case of us walking around the property cleaning up litter before the stores opened the next day and getting paid for it. I decided to see if there was much money to be made from this simple service.

My motivation kicked in, and I began to think about how I could successfully develop this side hustle idea. I contacted property management companies and offered to clean their retail, office, and warehouse properties daily.

Cleaning litter was work I could accomplish before and after my full-time job at the sporting goods store!

As I began signing on more and more properties, I realized I had a viable business on my hands. After just two months, I was making more income than at my full-time job. Can you guess what I did next? I quit my job and turned my side gig into a profitable full-time business.

Today, I manage an operation that bills out over $650,000 yearly in parking lot litter removal contracts. I know entrepreneurs who are only working part-time (following my Cleanlots system) and making an extra $20,000 -$50,000 a year, just by cleaning up litter outside of commercial properties.

How It Works

Parking lot litter removal is an after-hours service performed on foot using simple hand tools. You walk the exterior property and sweep up litter into your collection tool.

When your gear is full, empty into an onsite waste dumpster. Almost as easy to do as going for a walk!

You can clean up litter from the sidewalks, parking lot, and any surrounding landscape almost as fast as you can walk. You don’t have to sweep up any dirt or gravel from the parking lot as this is done by a power sweeping service.

Benefits of Operating a Parking Lot Litter Removal Business

  • Flexibility. Parking lot litter removal is done out of the sight of customers-which means late nights or early mornings. I enjoy working outdoors in the early morning of the day.
  • Freedom. Self-employment means no time clock to punch. You set your hours. There are also no traffic jams to stress out over. My parking lot litter removal business is where I found my independence, freedom, and empowerment.
  • Autopilot. I find comfort in having a daily routine. I can go on autopilot but still accomplish the task at hand. It is also a great use of time to listen to music or your favorite podcast while you work.
  • Low risk.  When I decided to start Cleanlots, I only had about $200 to invest. The service didn’t require any extraordinary skills or training.  (Remember: I started this business with only a high school diploma!). My original $200 investment has grown into a $650,000+ per Year Company.
  • Recession proof. Are people littering less than 30 years ago? NO! And property managers have a hard time keeping up. That’s where we step in! Live in a high growth area? Even better. Isn’t it amazing how many commercial properties with parking lots there are? Consider how many of these were built within the past ten years. All of these areas must be maintained litter-free on a regular basis.
  • Environmentally friendly.  I have a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that my business is making for a cleaner, greener environment. It’s by no means glamorous. However, I do enjoy creating a noticeable impact in my community with this green business.
  • Low overhead. When I first got started, I used everyday tools such as brooms, dustpans, and litter grabber tools. Eventually, I discovered a gem of a litter collection tool that allows me to sweep up nearly as fast as I can walk. Not only did it speed up my cleaning times, but it can also pick up even the smallest litter materials resulting in increased efficiency.
  • Exercise. In this side hustle, you can be guaranteed to walk a few miles a day. Put on your fitness tracker and see how many steps you take! You are taking care of yourself as well as your customers and the environment.
  • Treasures. In addition to typical litter (food wrappers, drink cups, cigarette butts), I sometimes find articles of clothing, cell phones, wallets, and even money! I return any valuables that can be identified; however, crumpled up bills are thrilling to encounter and go right in my pocket. Years ago, I found a crumpled $2 bill on the ground, and I was even more surprised to discover a $100 bill wrapped inside of it. Another time I noticed a grimy roll of bills next to the waste dumpster as I went to empty my collecting bag. After taking it home and drying it out (it looked like it had been there for quite some time), I counted up all the bills – $600! Someone’s careless loss turned into my profitable gain.


“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you. I could hit $100,000 this year. If I do badly, I’ll make $50,000”.” – Nelson Cabral, Cleanlots Student

“We had a goal of reaching $50,000 in the first year; we actually met and slightly exceeded that goal in only the first seven months. We have you to thank for our success as we continue to grow this business! Again, thank you for your advice, the willingness to speak on the phone, and your continued support. Buying your book was the best decision we could have ever made!”
– Kelly Kansas, Cleanlots Student

Like the Outdoors? Make Extra Money Going for Walks!

If you think that a parking lot litter removal side hustle might be right for you here are three steps you can take today to make extra money on the side.

  • First, head out to your community. Just think of all the possible cleaning contracts you have in your area. Look at all the commercial properties in your neighborhood. Shopping plazas, office buildings, warehouse sites are all potential contracts. Most property managers don’t want to do the “dirty job” themselves. But you do, and they’ll pay you handsomely (on average $30-$50 per hour). Month after month. Year after year.
  • Second, build a contact list. I have found that Commercial Real Estate Management companies are your best source for business. One good one could result in a dozen prospective contracts.
  • Third, let me be your guide. I developed a step-by-step operations manual on how to start and run a parking lot litter cleaning business. I’m also available by phone to talk you through any questions you may have at no extra cost.

You may have your financial future mapped out through retirement.

But wouldn’t you like to get there quicker? Consider various side hustle ideas to help you earn that extra cash and accelerate your financial progress.

No matter which side hustle idea you choose to pursue, I implore you to get started as soon as possible. Talk to business owners about what they would like to see in the community. Take a walk or drive around your area and evaluate the options.

While you’re doing that, don’t forget to scan all of the parking lots you pass. How do they look? Are they littered? If they are, order my book! I might just have the simplest side hustle opportunity for you!

What to read next: How I Make $10,000+ Per Month With These 4 Side Hustles

Don’t forget to sign up for the free resource library and get exclusive access to free printables & planners related to saving and making money, meal planning, and more!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends or pin it!

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Lynda

    What service do you use for your opt ins here? Thank you. I love your story.

    1. Alexis

      Convertkit 🙂

  2. Jennifer

    I LOVED reading this article! !
    I would like to learn more on how I can start my own litter clean up business!
    Such as: How much should I charge? What about taxes or end of the year taxes? Etc!
    I hope to hear back from someone soon!
    Living in the growing city of Fargo, ND with A LOT of trash to be picked !

    1. Alexis

      Hi Jennifer! I definitely recommend checking out Brian’s book called CleanLots, which is featured in this post.

      1. Brian Winch

        Yes, please do check out my book. All subjects covered. Plus I provide FREE support.

        1. samuel jordan

          I just got the book. It’s simple but amazing.

          1. Brian Winch

            Thanks Samuel. Yes, it is simple. But if you need any help don’t forget my free support.

  3. Dana F Ladd

    Hello, Alexis
    My name is Dana and I am interested in getting paid to pick up trash and would like to know what resources I can use. I do currently pick up trash on the streets every day and pick up after many homeless people and even reach to storm drains and collecting trash that is headed to the ocean, I do this for the ocean, my city, and the environment. Though the only issue is that at my current job I make minimum wage and can’t afford to feed myself, yet still, I continue to pick up trash as starving as I am. I would like to continue picking up trash and even get more involved though to do this I need help. Please let me know how I can get at least some compensation for the time and labor so that I may do even more. Thank you for your post… peace, love, and respect to you!

    1. Alexis

      I recommend checking out the CleanLots book listed in this article 🙂

  4. Amber Quibodeaux

    This is the greatest idea I’ve seen because there is alot of trash on the ground that needs to be picked up. So y not getting paid to pick up the trash brilliant idea. The best part u work at ur own schedule. Im from south Louisiana and there is alot of trash to be picked up. I could do this full time would love to learn more ideas to make sure I have my ducks n a row. Thanks for advice have a blessed day.

    1. Alexis

      You’re welcome! Definitely a great idea.

  5. Laura

    Is it necessary to work so early in the morning? I live on the southside of Atlanta and would be concerned about my safety as a woman out in dark parking lots.

Leave a Reply