You may have heard of Cash for Clunkers, but you may not be familiar with similar programs in existence for lawn equipment. Governmental bodies like the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (ICAPCD) want people to get rid of loud, high polluting gas lawn mowers and leaf blowers and replace them with newer and cleaner electric mowers. They offer an incentive to do this. They give you a voucher that covers a large part of the purchase price of the newer mower or blower. You can use that voucher to get a rebate when you buy the new lawn equipment either online or in a store. As an example, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) which covers a large part of Southern California offers $200 if you spend between $251 and $400 on the new mower.
The way that this could go from a discount program to a money-making investment would be if you actively sought out old gas powered lawn equipment that you could get for free or at a very low cost. Your investment would be the cost of the old mower plus the cost of the new mower, minus the rebate. So if you could buy the old mower for $1, buy a new mower for $251, and get a $200 rebate, you would be out $52 but have a brand new mower. If you could turn around and sell that brand new mower, for say $100, you would make a $48 profit. Between Craigslist, eBay and local classified websites, re-selling a brand new Black & Decker mower for say half of its Amazon.com price, probably isn’t that unrealistic.
Programs are usually going to restrict the number of mowers you can trade in, so it would be difficult to scale this to the point of making tons and tons of money. For instance, San Diego caps their exchange at 4 devices per family. Additionally, programs might only take place for one day per year, or over a period of weeks. It is not necessarily something that you can pursue year-round. That being said, its still money and a great way to earn some money with little to no effort. It can also be a way to teach a child the value of a dollar, and to encourage them to always think like an entrepreneur.