266: The Simplest Side Hustle Ever? How to Earn $30-50 an Hour Picking up Trash

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Brian Winch calls it “America’s Simplest Business.”

What started as a side hustle way back in 1981 has now grown into a $650k a year operation.

So what does Brian do?

His company picks up litter from parking lots. Sadly, it’s still an essential service (boo litterbugs!), but has very low startup costs and Brian says you can earn $30-$50 an hour doing this on the side.

What prompted Brian to pick up the phone and ask property management companies if he could handle their litter picking contracts?

“I decided I liked my job but I couldn’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life and I wanted more,” Brian said. In just a few months he was earning more part-time in this side hustle than he was at his full-time job.

“It’s like getting paid to take a walk,” he explained.

I’ll call it freelancing — brick-and-mortar style.

Tune in to hear how Brian landed his first clients, how he priced his service, and how he scaled the business to remove himself from the day-to-day trash pickup.

With the decent pay, hours that fit around most day jobs, minimal start-up costs, and no prior experience necessary, it’s a side hustle success story that’s worth checking out.

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  • How Brian come across the idea for litter picking and cleaning parking lots.
  • How he scaled his business (Back in 1981 before internet marketing).
  • His “Warm calling” tips when calling potential clients.
  • His target markets and where to find them.
  • The pros and cons of litter picking as a side hustle.
  • How the unsociable hours of this side hustle allowed Brian to fit it around his day job.
  • Brian’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

31 thoughts on “266: The Simplest Side Hustle Ever? How to Earn $30-50 an Hour Picking up Trash”

  1. What happens when you decide to do this, and you underprice the current contract holder, gain the contract when the other expires, and you go out to clean AT NIGHT, and the former, now angry, contractor comes and threatens your life and livelihood? Wondering how many of these jobs have mob connections and protections, even in GOOD/SAFE areas.

    • My work isn’t that interesting! Contractors win/lose business all the time. It’s the nature of the business. I’m sure there’s more money to be made by the mob in more profitable industries.

  2. As the saying goes in the UK: “Where’s there’s muck, there’s brass.”

    It just goes to show that you don’t have to chase the hippest and sexiest ideas to have fulfilling work and make money.

    Well done, Brian.

  3. Brian,
    Thanks for sharing this excellent info.

    Where are you based? State/Region/Province/Country?

    Do you think there are any limitations on this business regarding certain US States or Parts of Cities based on YOUR experience and 30 years of operating this business?

  4. This is an interesting idea. I made sure to click your affiliate link for the referral Nick. Brian, I am looking forward to learning more from your site and potentially your information products. Thank you both!

  5. This sounds like an interesting idea. But I wonder if this would work on a smaller scale in small towns? Have you heard of anyone starting this in small rural areas?

    • I am in an area that is rural but has several towns with about 40,000 people. I’m thinking, Why couldn’t a guy start a business that services multiple cities with the technology we have available to monitor and direct employees?

    • Pick up truck, but any vehicle will do. You’re not hauling any waste material away. You can use the waste bin on site to empty your litter collection tool and dispose of any trash bags.

  6. What kind of business license or permits or business registrations would I need? Also types of insurances for business? I live in phoenix, Arizona USA.. Thanks in advance for any information

  7. I listened to this episode about a year ago, but this business has always been in the back of my mind. Finally purchased the e-book about a month ago, and after more procrastination on my part I should be launched by the end of this month! Thank you Nick for putting this on my radar and Brian for all of the wonderful information!


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