There is a non-profit agency that will send you a free shipping label to affix to any extra box you've got laying around that you're willing to load up with donations for those in need. It's a two-for-one: get rid of a box so you don't have to crush it for recycling AND do some good for those who could use a little help. The classic win-win scenario.

If your house is anything like ours - nonstop knocks on the door with yet another box of whatever you bought online - if cardboard was made of gold you probably would be filthy rich. For us, COVID changed how we shop and what we shop online for, meaning fewer trips to the actual store and more regular household staples coming via delivery. Even as normal life has mostly been restored, we haven't gone back to our old ways of shopping less online.

That is, of course, in addition to those late night Amazon binges or cool things you find and don't need from an Instagram ad or two. Don't get me started. Oh look, that cool toy I I had to have for my 1-year old is out for delivery.

And with the holidays rapidly approaching, obviously as a result, we have even more empty boxes than we know what to do with around our house. It's a problem that I'm sure we share with many other families, yours included perhaps?

So what do we do with all these empty boxes, anyway?

Cardboard makes sweet roofing material for kids' forts. Chris Kelly, TSM
Cardboard makes sweet roofing material for kids' forts. Chris Kelly, TSM

Clearly you should recycle cardboard rather than throw it away.

But now there's another, cooler thing to consider first. My wife, tuned in to all things motherhood as she may be, stumbled across a post on a NoCo Mom's Group on Facebook the other day where someone made a fantastic suggestion we will definitely be putting to use.

There's a non-profit organization called Give Back Box that has teamed up with the likes of Amazon, Overstock and dozens of other individual stores to give a second life to what they say is approximately 100 billion cardboard boxes that are manufactured in just the United States each year.

Unsplash, Jon Moore
Unsplash, Jon Moore

Don't just smash and recycle if you can put it to good use instead!

With Give Back Box, you take any used box that whatever you bought came in and load it up with clothing, toys or any other household donations. You can request a free shipping label on their website, stick it on the box and drop those donations off at the nearest Post Office, UPS or FedEx location. It will then be shipped off to the nearest participating non-profit agency, thanks to Give Back Box.

You can also choose from a list of different agencies they list on their site, and for a $15 donation, get a sponsored label to send your stuff direct to them instead.

It's a convenient, minimal-effort way to help those less fortunate while decluttering your life from all that unwanted cardboard you're stuck with.

Of course, you could always load up more boxes and drive them to your favorite local charities too.

This, of course, is always the preferred method. You are a simple Google search away from finding and researching a few local non-profit agencies and what their needs are, especially during the holiday season. You probably even hear us talk about many of them on the radio on a regular basis. Why not give them a call and ask what they are in need of right now to see what you might be able to help with?

It's worth the extra step to put some of those old boxes to use and help some people out right here at home. You never know who might be struggling this year, be it a neighbor, a co-worker, even a close friend that otherwise seems to have it all together. The person you help may just be one you know and never even knew they needed it.

Get a free shipping label to make a donation at:

GIFT IDEAS: 100 years of Christmas toys, gifts and fads


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