Thursday, September 11, 2008

Empty Those Pushkes and Get Those Coins Circulating!

It's Elul, the month preceding the Jewish High Holidays, a spiritually-heightened time to clean up items and relationships that are hanging. Here's an environmentally friendly ritual: empty your tsedakah boxes [also called "pushkes"] , donate the money, and get those coins recirculating - not only is it good for your soul, it's good for the environment, as highlighted in a column in my local paper. Recirculating coins (which equals REUSING) lowers the demand for new coins; naturally, mining for the minerals used in coins degrades habitat and consumes water and energy to keep the mint producing. Old coins are remanufactured, basic recycling. Mining is one of the least environmentally friendly activities around.
Last time I used CoinStar at the local supermarket, rather than hassling with the coins at a bank, I was pleasantly surprised to learn CoinStar is tsedakah-enabled. You can cash out, of course, minus their commission for processing. But alternatively you can donate on the spot to causes like UNICEF or World WildLife Fund - here's their list. I talked with CoinStar and learned that charities receive a discounted service charge rate of 7.5% (as opposed to the customer's charge of 8.9%). You choose your charity and CoinStar prints a receipt for you and forwards the money directly. You are allowed the full amount as a tax-deduction. The charity gets direct cash for only a small overhead cost, less than their normal fundraising expense. If you like, you can mail the charity a copy of your CoinStar slip, which will generate an acknowledgement from them directly. Then of course they will solicit you by direct mail, so watch out.
This is a triple-play. You get the coins recirculating, donate to a good cause directly and efficiently, and cross something off your to-do list.
All good things, regardless of your faith tradition!

No comments: