Think in­side the box

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Now that you’ve cleared out the wrap­ping pa­per, the torn en­velopes, the rib­bons and the di­rec­tions to the re­mote-con­trol car, you’ve still got the boxes. Lots of boxes. All those card­board car­tons, wait­ing to be bro­ken down and stuffed into the re­cy­cling bin (or worse, the garbage). Blessed be the trash haulers this post-hol­i­day week.

Ever think, what a waste? A waste of boxes and re­sources — es­pe­cially when the toy di­nosaur you ordered for your nephew ar­rived in a ship­ping box big enough for a real one.

Maybe it has oc­curred to you — be­fore you toss all those boxes — that they are just what you need for your early 2017 de­clut­ter­ing project. If so, read on. Straight out of the “Why didn’t

I think of that?” de­part­ment comes the Give Back Box project, a way for you to re­use those boxes, clean out your clos­ets and help a wor­thy cause, all at once.

How? Go to the web­site GiveBack­, en­ter your ad­dress and print out a la­bel that will au­to­mat­i­cally in­clude the near­est Good­will store.

Fill your boxes with house­hold items, cloth­ing and other do­na­tions. You can use any boxes that are sturdy enough to sur­vive ship­ping. Then send them to Good­will — for free.

Yes, free. “No postage nec­es­sary if mailed in the United States” is printed on the la­bel.

If you’re too busy (or lazy) to drop off the box at the near­est post of­fice, the Postal Ser­vice will pick it up from your stoop. You can sched­ule a pickup just as you would for any other pack­age. So the boxes won’t sit around for months in your spare bed­room, wait­ing for you to load them up and de­liver them to Good­will.

The web­site also in­cludes easy di­rec­tions to get a re­ceipt for tax pur­poses. We swear. This isn’t fake news. How is this pos­si­ble? In 2012, a woman from Chicago, Monika Wiela, was walk­ing along the city’s busy Michi­gan Av­enue and saw a home­less man hold­ing a sign say­ing he needed shoes. By the time she re­turned car­ry­ing a pair of shoes, he was gone. She was de­ter­mined to find a way to make char­ity giv­ing eas­ier.

Give Back Box has 20 re­tail and ship­ping part­ners, in­clud­ing Amazon, that un­der­write the cost. It’s a perk for their cus­tomers, good for the en­vi­ron­ment and yes, smart PR. With the es­ca­la­tion of on­line shop­ping, the waste cre­ated from boxes is fill­ing up land­fills. Re­tail­ers want to en­cour­age the re­use of their boxes.

Here’s the only caveat: Don’t ship items that Good­will won’t take or that shouldn’t be mailed any­way — no elec­tron­ics, liq­uids, haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als or frag­ile items. Don’t ship your dog. Do ship shoes. Don’t ship your am­mu­ni­tion. Do ship gen­tly used cloth­ing.

Don’t ship your fa­vorite frozen pizza. Do ship your plas­tic salad bowls.

See how easy is to think in­side the box?

This edi­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in the Chicago Tri­bune on Dec. 30.

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