Reuse your holiday Amazon boxes to ship donations to Goodwill for free

Amazon box and cat
CC BY 2.0 Stephen Woods

After the holidays, put some of those shipping boxes to use with Give Back Box.

As more of us turn to online shopping for buying gifts and other items, one constant seems to be an abundance of cardboard shipping boxes in our homes, and while they can be recycled, they can also serve as a convenient method for donating all that stuff that we don't need or want anymore. And thanks to the work of Give Back Box and its partners, it won't cost you a penny to ship your items direct to Goodwill Industries.

Once the shipping boxes are opened, and the gifts are wrapped (and then unwrapped), those boxes, which are often new and only used for a single shipment, can be put back to work to help make a difference in people's lives. Sure, the boxes can easily be put into your municipal recycling bins, but they can also be reused as-is to make another trip through the mail before getting recycled.

Give Back Box was founded in 2012 by Monika Wiela as a way of not only keeping shipping boxes out of landfills (some 4 million tons of corrugated boxes get discarded and sent to the landfill each year), and helping to keep unwanted (but still usable) items out of the landfill (11 million tons of clothing, footwear, towels, bedding, drapery, and other textiles are said to end up in US landfills each year), but also to support the work of a worthy nonprofit organization, Goodwill Industries International.

Here's a little of the backstory, straight from the founder:

It's actually quite simple to use Give Back Box to help boost the efforts of Goodwill, which not only operates retail thrift stores, but also has extensive employment support and training programs for the disadvantaged and disabled, funded by the sale of donated items. To participate, simply pack a box with the items you no longer need (sorry, no electronics, liquids, or fragile, hazardous or volatile items can be shipped through the program, and cats are definitely not allowed), print off a pre-paid USPS or UPS shipping label at Give Back Box, and then either drop them off at the post office or UPS location, or arrange for a package pickup at your home or office. There is no limit to the number of boxes sent through the program (and no weight limit), but each box requires its own shipping label.

Once the boxes arrive at the nearest Goodwill center, the donations are sorted through and then sold in the organization's retail stores, and every cardboard box received is recycled. While is a major player in the holiday gift-buying binge, and the company's shipping boxes probably account for a significant amount of Americans' waste at the end of the year, you don't have to use an official Amazon box (or any other participating retailer's boxes, for that matter) to take advantage of this program.

If your local Goodwill location accepts donations, then taking the boxes of goods there yourself is a more eco-friendly option than shipping them, but the Give Back Box could allow for an easier, cheaper, and less time-intensive method of donating to a good cause. And if you'd like a tax deduction receipt for your donations, simply create an account at the Give Back Box website, where you can itemize those donations, and when the box has been received and sorted, a receipt will be emailed to you.

Reuse your holiday Amazon boxes to ship donations to Goodwill for free
After the holidays, put some of those shipping boxes to use with Give Back Box.

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