Patriotic Upcycling

Do you have this problem at your house?

We have downsized our magazine consumption in the past few years, but we still get a few favorites and can build up quite a stack. We like to make sure we read them thoroughly before we declare them “done”. I’d like to be able to blame this little enabler:

This really deep magazine basket easily holds several months worth of subscriptions and by the time we clean it out, we have this problem:

These are really nice magazines. Even if we recycle them, it feels bad to throw them away after only two adults have read them. So, Mr. CARO and I found a solution. This solution will cost you some spare change, between $13-20 based on what you want to spend. However, this project achieves many extra goals beyond recycling. This solution will:

  • Help you with your Spring cleaning
  • Put your magazines to further use
  • Help the planet
  • Support our troops serving far from home

Betcha didn’t see that last one coming, did ya?  Here is one of the two tools that make this solution possible:

This box, called the “APO/FPO flat rate box” can only be used to ship items to an overseas military address. “APO” basically stands for Armed Services Post Office, which serves all the US military bases on foreign soil, all over the world. To know that you got the APO/FPO flat rate box, look for this logo on the box:

This box is free at any US post office. (Free!) Anything you can fit in this box that weighs less than 20 pounds can be shipped to any APO address for just $13. That’s right! For only $13, the USPS will deliver this box to American soldiers in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not a bad deal, huh? Probably less than you spent on one of those magazine subscriptions.

Okay, here is the second tool:

This is anysoldier.com, a fantastic website which can connect you with US soldiers serving around the world who need a care package from home.

At the top of the page you can link to “What to Send” to see the overall guidelines for shipping packages to APO addresses.

Be sure to scroll down to the “Things NOT to send” and “Tips and Hints” sections of this page and read them carefully.

Also, at the top of the page, click on the “Where to Send” to find the (very) long list of soldiers who need care packages, either for themselves, or more commonly, for their group. You can sort through the soldier requests by current country, branch of service, gender, etc.  Then, click on the soldier’s name for more details about them.

Read what they are looking for, what they really need, in a care package. The key is to find someone who is looking for some extra entertainment to help fill the down time when they are off-duty. It won’t be hard to find this need. Choose your soldier and then ask for their address. This step really commits you to really sending a care package.

I’m guessing you can figure out the next step:

If you have kids, try getting them in on this project, too. This can be an ecology and patriotism lesson in one. Kids can help gather up the magazines around the house and pack the box. Be sure all of your magazines don’t show your home address and are in nice condition when you pack them up.

Have extra room left over in your box?  Consider tossing in:

  • More magazines: Can you help your neighbor’s with their Spring cleaning? You’ll be surprised how many people will contribute when you explain your cause.
  • Good paperback books: Does your book club want to donate some great books? Maybe you can find some great ones at your favorite used book store to include.
  • Snacks to share: try a mix of salty and sweet snacks to please everyone’s cravings. Be careful of sending snack things that can melt in warm temperatures, like chocolate or hard candies. (No home-made food is acceptable, for safety reasons.) Pack the snacks in Ziploc bags to ensure no spills in the shipping and the ability that your soldier can keep them fresh in country.
  • A letter of appreciation: Those of us having a hard day at home often can not imagine what a hard day is like in a combat zone. Even just a few words of thank you and appreciation for their service may make a soldier’s hard day a little more bearable. Tell your soldier a little about yourself and that you’d love to hear back from them, too.
  • A pre-addressed, non-stamped (overseas soldiers get free letter postage) note card and envelope. Help make it easy for your soldier to write back. Be patient, their job is very busy and their post office is often not as conveniently located as your post office is.

Now tape that box up like you mean business. Cover every box edge with tape, so there are no shipping accidents on the way. Drop this box by your US Post Office, pay your $13 and you have:

  • Helped the planet by upcycling paper goods
  • Made a soldier’s day by sending them some love from home

Which one of those achievements feels better? Hmmm. That is a hard call. Try it and decide for yourself. You can do all of these steps in less time than it has taken me to write this post!

Do you like this Green Living idea? This post is part of the year-long Earth Day series started last week. You can read about it in this post. For some budget-best-friendly Green Living household solutions, check out this post and this post. Do you have a great Green Living tip? Post it as a comment to share!

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Posted on April 26, 2011, in Green Living, Lifestyle, Organization. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. My cousin is in the army and I send him care packages when I can. He really loves the taste of home and to know that we’re still thinking about him. I didn’t know other people did this for soldiers they don’t even know! That’s great. I know they really appreciate it.

  2. As soon as I wave my Easter company good-bye I will clean out my books and mail them!

  3. What a great idea! And easy enough even for me to get organized.

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