Monika Wiela did not originally set out to found a charity. In fact, in 2012, she was the owner of an online shoe retailer. But, according to the Give Back Box website, Wiela's perspective changed after an interaction with a homeless man, who told her that he needed a pair of shoes. After their conversation, Wiela attempted to bring him shoes, but sadly, could not find him again. Instead, she began to research other ways to help the homeless community, and was inspired by the business that she herself ran.
Like most online retailers, Wiela's business used cardboard boxes to ship items to customers. She realized that if she could find a way to encourage customers to use these boxes to donate their old household items, she could gather supplies for the homeless and reduce waste at the same time. With that idea, Wiela's charity, Give Back Box, was founded. Since its creation, Give Back Box has partnered with several online retailers who provide their customers with special Give Back Box shipping labels, making it easy for them to reuse the boxes they receive.
Give Back Box's first major retail partner was Newegg, though the charity has since worked with Overstock and Loft, among others. Now, Give Back Box has partnered with online retail giant Amazon in order to make what is almost sure to be its biggest impact yet. Given that in their 2016 holiday season alone, Amazon shipped over 1 billion items, even a small percentage of customers participating in the program could make a massive impact on both communities in need and the environment.
Though these boxes are made from recyclable cardboard, reusing each of them just once before recycling could have an enormous environmental impact. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reusing is even more effective in reducing overall waste than recycling is, since "making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy." This makes a lot of sense as a reminder that even when items are recyclable, it's best to reuse them before we toss them into the recycling bin and repurchase.