box tops for addiction

A couple of months ago I was taking out some old cereal boxes for recycling pick up, and a maintenance guy who works in our community stopped me and asked if he could have my box tops. I was a little startled - what could he want with the tops of my boxes? Was he trying to steal my identity somehow by knowing what type of cereal I eat? I had always seen these little logos on boxes in the cereal aisle, but didn't know the reason why a relative stranger would want them.

My sister, who's an elementary school teacher, helped explain about a week later that these little cut-outs can earn elementary schools a lot of money, $0.10 at a time. For every 10 cent cut-out schools receive, they get money from General Mills, and sometimes the school system will match. So I started taking notice and cutting them out when we bought golden grahams, lucky charms and other general mills cereals, I would send them down to her when I got a dozen or so.

Every addiction starts slowly - after cereal it moved on to kleenex boxes, ziploc bag boxes, chex mix - everywhere I looked the little "box tops" sticker was, it had taken on a life of its own and was following me, and I started to feel delighted to find more box tops in unexpected places. I recently did some research at work into the collector's mindset for a project on a local historical association that sells collectible products, and I was going down that path, except instead of antique furniture or baseball cards I was collecting these little cardboard cut-outs.

After a little searching it appears like a black market has developed for this new currency - on eBay people are selling box tops for about face value. On craigslist people have put up "wanted" posts:

Box tops for education has changed my shopping habits, my recycling/getting the trash ready habits, and it all seems worth it to help out the kids 10 cents at a time.


At 6:09 AM , Blogger Michelle Marts said...

My mom is a teacher and though she hasn't been working for a few years, she still collects those! Her classes managed to raise hundreds of dollars for their school. I just read a book that talks about making a product collectible and how it's human nature to enjoy collecting. It's a pretty cool way to look at it...


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