In recent years, subscription boxes have become a growing business model. They’ve surged in popularity! The joy of receiving a box every month with curated products is a powerful draw for consumers, and the subscription box trend shows no sign of going away.
But subscription boxes are also getting the sustainability treatment too. Eco-friendly boxes are on the rise, and with good reason. Read on to discover why, and learn how you can create your own sustainability-focused subscription box.
Why are sustainability-focused subscription boxes on the rise?
Sustainability is more than just a passing fad — it’s a growing trend that is (hopefully) here to stay. As the pressures of climate change are thrust to the fore, more and more businesses look for sustainable means of doing business. Sustainability-focused subscription boxes are one such means.
They promote sustainability
One of the biggest reasons for this increase is that subscription boxes promote sustainability as a whole.
Customers often pay big bucks for products that depreciate in value, break, are no longer usable, or become obsolete with time. This leaves the customer with a defunct item that they just have to throw away.
But packaging might be returned after unboxing, either to recycle or to swap out for a newer item. This encourages recycling and reusing items, making it easy for customers and businesses to reduce their impact on the planet.
They make sustainability accessible
As well as promoting sustainability, subscription boxes also make it more accessible.
Many people want to live more sustainably, but don’t know how. For instance, knowing what you can or can’t recycle or what product is actually good for the planet can get confusing.
Sustainability-focused subscription boxes make all that easy by providing a curated selection of eco-friendly products for the customer. Rather than dithering at the store between choices, the customer has the selection made for them with a personalized subscription box.
The Cratejoy merchant greenUP Box is a fine example of this. It provides a carefully curated selection of household products to help customers replace plastic in their own house — entirely eco-friendly.
How can I create a sustainability-focused subscription box?
Sustainability-focused subscription boxes are a rising trend that’s good for the planet, the customer, and your brand. But what goes into a great eco-friendly subscription box?
Personalize it to your customers
The best subscription boxes are personalized to the consumer on an individual level. They contain products carefully chosen for the recipient based on their personal tastes.
This is easy to do too. Require your customers to complete a survey when they sign up with you, highlighting the sustainability issues that they care about. You can use this to curate their subscription box and tailor items to them.
Support local businesses with eco products
Subscription boxes are great for passing on the sustainability love by selecting products from small eco-friendly businesses. There are plenty of boutique and artisan crafts brands with strong sustainability commitments that get great exposure through focused subscription boxes.
Anyone can pick up a generic keep cup from Target for a few dollars. But subscription boxes provide a curated selection of products from small eco-friendly brands that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Eschew the big-name brands in your box and opt for local, sustainable products instead. This gives you greater control over the sustainability of your chosen brands and keeps your box eco-friendly throughout.
Source only sustainable packaging
One of the major criticisms of subscription boxes is its packaging. Due to the nature of this business model, it can generate huge amounts of waste in excess packaging.
However, this doesn’t need to be the case. There are plenty of recyclable packaging materials available to brands, beyond the obvious choice of cardboard. There are plenty of biodegradable alternatives to packaging: bubble wrap, plastic — you can even get biodegradable cornstarch packing peanuts.
You could even take it a step further and give your packaging another function. For instance, packaging used by baby accessories brand Joolz transforms into a toy such as a puppet theatre or hot air balloon.
While not all brands have the time or money to achieve this, adding function to your packaging is a nice touch that keeps it sustainable too.
Create an unboxing experience to remember
The unboxing experience is a crucial part of your subscriber’s journey. So it’s an important touchpoint between your brand and your customers!
A myriad of elements goes into creating an unboxing experience that is both memorable and sustainable.
The right packaging is key. As mentioned above, it should be recyclable or biodegradable. The box itself, as well as any fillers such as tissue paper or packing peanuts, should be 100% green.
But you should also reinforce this to your customers by making it clear that it is eco-friendly.
Packing inserts are a good opportunity to achieve this — custom notes are a nice touch that reminds customers their new box is sustainable. As well as reinforcing your green credentials, inserts like this can boost customer loyalty by providing free gifts or discount codes for future purchases.
Give back to the eco-community
Sustainability-focused subscription boxes don’t just have to be green in themselves. Spread the eco-friendly effect by donating a portion of every sale to a green nonprofit of your choice!
For instance, for every purchase of Earthlove, the merchant makes a donation to a different environmental non-profit that works to help the planet. (The current box helps coral reef conservation!) It’s a great touch that really amps up the green power of sustainability-focused subscription boxes.
The sustainability-focused subscription box trend will only grow more popular as the eco movement grows. Follow the tips above and create your own eco-friendly subscription box that customers will love every time it arrives on their doorstep!
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer and campaign designer for MicroStartups, a website focused on helping charities and microbusinesses. After years working in the sustainability, marketing, and creative industries, Kayleigh now loves to devote her time to supporting other businesses to grow and thrive. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @getmicrostarted for the latest news, tips and advice for startups and solopreneurs.