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Are eco-friendly subscription boxes really the way forward?

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Louise Williams, Posted: Friday, 26th March 2021, 08:00

Everywhere I look there seems to be subscription boxes for just about any and everything you can think of, and this extends to eco-friendly products as well.

From dishwasher tablets to deodorant, there is at least one company out there offering you the option to have a box of planet-friendly products delivered directly to your door on a regular basis. Just a quick internet search brings up hundreds, if not thousands of subscription services.

You can get surplus and wonky fruit and vegetables from local farms, meal boxes which contain exactly what you need to create a meal for a set amount of people, bread baking boxes... the options seem to be limitless.

When it comes to home and self-care there are vegan products, boxes with a huge variety of planet friendly candles and stationery, no end of cleaning products and reusable cleaning cloths, and bathroom options like plastic-free cotton buds, razors and shampoo bars and soaps. You can even get toilet paper delivered!

Many boxes offer environmental extras

The majority of these boxes are plastic free and several offer environmental extras like planting a tree for every box sold.

I can certainly see the advantages to a lot of these – it is often when you run out that you make a less planet friendly choice. When you need something in a hurry, generally the readily available items won’t be the eco-friendly choices as they are less mainstream, and so you grab a bottle of chemical-based surface cleaner in a plastic bottle from a company with highly questionable ethics. If you are having cleaning products delivered to you regularly, the theory is that you won’t run out.
It will also give you access to new products to try. Quite often when buying eco-friendly items they can be quite expensive to buy individually, so this way you get to try a selection of products before deciding which are your favourites, and actually work for your family.

The only downsides I can see is that with this being a popular and growing market, unscrupulous people will always try to take advantage. So make sure to check the credentials of whoever you’re subscribing to – are they really delivering on their promises?

Another is delivery. It doubles it up generally; once to the company putting the boxes together and then onto you. If you are perhaps someone who cycles to the shop or buys in bulk, it might not be a less impactful option.

Finally, it could create waste. It can take a little while to learn what you actually need and how often you run out, so you end up with products you don’t use.

Saying all that though, I think they can be a great idea if you research the company and only get things that you will use.

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