Give Back Box Review: A Package Deal
Monika Wiela wanted to help, and in 2012 she identified a problem and created a solution. Through Give Back Box, Wiela is connecting consumers to any easy and environmentally-friendly way to participate in change for the better. It’s a pretty simple concept! After receiving an online order, you repack the box with your unwanted clothing and household items, apply the pre-paid shipping label, and resend the box. Your donated goods are then delivered to your nearest Goodwill, where they are sorted and sold.
When looking for a partner to bring her vision to life, Wiela decided on Goodwill due to its existing infrastructure, ability to process goods across the United States, and the programs it offers those in need. Goodwill’s ability to upcycle and recycle on a massive scale is just part of the picture. The revenue generated by the business is directed towards training those in need of help. According to their website, in 2015 they managed to provide job training, in a number of fields, to 312,000 people.
My biggest question became, “Is this a good thing for the environment?” If I can easily take my own unwanted items to my local Goodwill, how is this box really helping? Digging deeper, I found that only 15% of textile waste gets recycled. Yes, it is too early to judge the efficacy of the box. But, by prompting consumers to recycle (while indirectly targeting those whom would not usually recycle), it stands to reason that textile recycling rates will go up. The program employs USPS and UPS to deliver the boxes. Their existing transportation networks are arguably more efficient than each of us in our cars. Goodwill has also guaranteed that 100% of the boxes will be recycled on their end.
The biggest win may be that Goodwill, though a non-profit, is still a business. As an individual, I find that clothing beyond repair is hard to recycle. I have to find a textile recycling center, which could be hours away, and then get my items to it. Goodwill, on the other hand, has an infrastructure designed to maximize profits. Since recycling centers are also businesses, Goodwill finds ways to make the most of every item. Wet and moldy items, making up around 5% of donations, end up in landfills (according to The Huffington Post). This is a vastly huge improvement on the 85% of all textile waste currently in landfills.
It’s All Good News
The good news is that there are many massive online retailers currently supporting the program, including Amazon, Overstock, and REI. The even better news is that you don’t have to wait for your favorite company to sign up before you can get on board. Just visit the Give Back Box website to print your own shipping label, then fill any of your used cardboard boxes with your used items, and ship to donate! The first step starts here.
Forcing The Issue
So, in a world full of ideas about how to do things better, some good and some bad, where does Give Back Box fall? I believe the box is one of the better ideas currently being explored. While it may only be a handy tool for the already socially conscious reader, its true power is in its ability to target those not yet on board. I often feel that there are many people that would do more if doing more did not require more to be done. This box gives that person the ability to easily keep waste from the landfills, while also highlighting several issues for further thought. While I am waiting for everyone to learn to pay attention (otherwise known as the key to everything), Monika Wiela is working on a way to make it easy for them.