Stamp recycling?

What do blind people and donkeys have in common? Used stamps apparently.

I recently witnessed a usually sane friend carefully cut out and save a used stamp from an envelope, he said that he was saving them for “some woman at work who gives them to donkeys”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an active recycler and would gladly support any scheme to reduce our waste, but how do donkeys benefit from stamps? I mentioned this riddle to a few people and was told that blind people collect them too. Time to investigate further! My early ‘research’ unearthed some other people asking the same question on Internet forums. They had been collecting away out of some halcyon notion that they were doing something worthwhile and were now desperately searching for someone to actually send them to.

First stop was the RNIB, who say:

“Stamps are sorted by volunteers and then sold to dealers and collectors. They are mostly sold by weight, if we can identify any valuable stamps they can be sold for a higher price. As a general guideline RNIB can expect to receive 90p or £1 for a pound weight of stamps.”

So it is true! In fact there are a number of charities vying for your stamp collection:

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association say:

“… stamps can also be recycled to make money for Guide Dogs as these can be sold to collectors.”

Help the Aged are in on the act, quoting the same worth as RNIB:

“On average Help the Aged receives 90p or £1 for a pound weight of stamps.”

So my friend was not so mad after all… or was he?

All these charities conveniently supply an address to post your stamps to, but have they calculated how much it costs to send 1 pound (454 grams) of stamps? Well I will tell you. Due to it’s size your consignment will be classified as a ‘packet’ by Royal Mail and costs £1.39 to send by Second Class post.

So it actually costs more to send your stamps to the charity than they will earn back! All your diligent and painstaking collecting would amount to a nett loss of nearly 50p per pound weight of stamps.

Ignoring the postage costs and estimating that a stamp weighs 100mg, you would need to collect over 4,500 stamps to earn that £1. This values your collected stamps at just 0.02p each (i.e. collect fifty to make a penny). Perhaps this is all just a clever ruse to export our waste abroad? 😉

Please stop this ridiculous nonsense, do us all a favour and just send them the quid!

Oh, and nothing from The Donkey Santuary. Perhaps donkeys just like the taste? 😛


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