Once upon a time, I was subscribed to three monthly beauty box subscription services. As well as finding that my bathroom cupboards were starting to overflow with samples, I also felt the products I was being sent didn’t gel with my personal ethics. Often, I would receive products from brands that I wouldn’t ordinarily touch with a barge pole. I ended up unsubscribing from all of them, one by one. I remember moaning to dear Sabine from Echolife that I wished there was a sample box subscription service that just featured ethical and eco-friendly brands. She suggested I start one up myself, to which I responded that I was 100% too lazy. And unorganised. With no business sense. Thankfully, others were less hopeless, and now there is a range of sustainable sample box subscription services to choose from. Let’s take a look.
Lust Have It Eco Box ($29.95 AUD incl. shipping/quarter) *
Lust Have It are Australia’s largest beauty box subscription service, with a popular ‘mainstream’ monthly beauty sample box. In September 2012, Lust Have It launched a new quarterly ‘Eco Box’ (actually packaged in a drawstring hessian bag), featuring 6-8 ‘premium sample-sized’ eco-friendly beauty and skincare products. The semi-reformed beauty blogger in me really digs this box. The first box is a thoughtful mix of well-known ‘natural’ brands – Avado, Burt’s Bees, Kosmea – and some previously-undiscovered gems. Thank the lord, there are no sample sachets in sight. FYI: Lust Have It have stated that the dollar value of each Eco Box will be over $100. Some full-size items are available from the Lust Have It online store, but for many of them you will have to scout around the Net.
Biologica Lady Lya Eyeliner in No. 382 ($20), full size = $20 value
Avado Sensitives Organic Gel Exfoliant ($14.95/100mL), full size = $14.95 value
Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Treatment ($19.95/110mL), 30mL sample = $5.45 value
Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb ($9.95), full size = $9.95 value
Sranrom Awakening Vitality Body Lotion ($30/200mL), 75mL sample = $11.25 value
Kosmea Radiance 24/7 Youth Boost ($39.95/20mL), 10mL sample = $21.95 value
Wicked Wix Organix Baby Jar in Bliss ($14.95/57g), full size = $14.95 value
Total value = $98.50 AUD
Native Box ($20.95 AUD incl. shipping/monthly) *
Launching in November 2012, Native Box is a monthly sample box subscription service, featuring a range of eco-friendly and ethical lifestyle products. Native Box seems designed to give you a little taste of everything – each box contains 10+ samples. The website doesn’t have an online store, but each month you are provided with each brand’s website address. The information sheet also notes which products are vegan, which is brill. In December’s box, there was a balanced mix of skincare products, super foods and supplements, mineral makeup, tea, and snacks. The snacks – the veggie chips and gingerbread man – got snapped up immediately. I’m not so keen on the inclusion of sample sachets (they are packaging-intensive). I’ll also pass on the spirulina sample – there are only select circumstances in which I’ll take tablets divvied up into a little plastic baggie by a stranger, and this is not one of them.
Phytocare Omega Smooth in Sweet Lemon ($19.80/250mL), full size = $19.80 value
Island Sky Hand Made Goat’s Milk Soap (price unavailable)
Adorn Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Coral Pearl [vegan] ($15/1g), full size = $15 value
Ajitas Vege Chips [vegan] ($2), full size = $2 value
Ayana Organics Vanilla Body Butter [vegan] ($37.65/250mL), 5mL sample = 75c value
Morelife Spirulina 1000mg Tabs [vegan] ($27.95/500 tabs), 20 tablet sample = $1.10 value
Gingerbread Folk Chocolate Gingerbread Man [vegan] ($1.60), full size = $1.60 value
Adore Tea Australian Green Tea [vegan] ($9.50/50g), ’2-cup taster’ sample = 95c value
Kuranda Chinoa Health Bar [vegan] ($3), full size = $3 value
Total value = $44.20 AUD value
Notox Box ($25 AUD incl. shipping) *
Launching in October 2012, Notox Box is a monthly sample box subscription service, featuring a range of eco-friendly and ethical lifestyle products. You can buy a full-size version of all the products included in the Notox Box from their online store – the online store has a very nifty function that allows you to see whether or not each product ticks the following boxes: certified organic, fair trade, cruelty-free, vegetarian, vegan, hand-made, and made in Australia. Notox Box has a smaller number of samples than Native Box, but happily in this case there were no sample sachets to be found (apart from the teabag). This box had the slimmest value-for-money ratio, but I certainly wouldn’t have felt ripped off if I had bought it. February’s box contained a balanced mixture of skincare, homewares, food, tea, super foods and supplements – and that candle smells like heaven, I swear.
Blacktea Soy Candle in White Tea & Ginger [vegan] ($44.95/300g), 57g baby jar = $8.55 value
Olive Oil Skincare Co. Olive Oil Soap with Manuka Honey ($6.95), full size = $6.95 value
Nutra Organics Super Greens + Reds [vegan] ($39.95/250g), 3g sample = $1.20 value
Power Superfoods Cacao Powder Gold [vegan] ($12.95/225g), 5g sample = 30c value
Absolute Organic White Quinoa [vegan] ($5.95/400g), full size = $5.95 value
Spiral Foods Mung Bean Chips [vegan] ($4.95), full size = $4.95 value
Pukka Love Tea [vegan] ($7.95/20 sachets), sample sachet = 40c value
Total value = $28.30 AUD value
I totally get the sustainability arguments against sample box subscription services, no matter what the contents – they are inevitably packaging-intensive, need to be posted in the mail, and can be wasteful (if you do not use some of the products). However, they are also an awesome way to find out about smaller sustainable brands and explore new things, and you all know (if you follow me on Twitter) that I have no issues with palming off my unwanted stuff to anyone who will take it. If you subscribe to one of these sample boxes and you find you do not use some of the products, make sure you find them a good home – I find when I leave a box of goodies on the lunch table at work, everything is gone in a blink of an eye.
* These products were provided for consideration in accordance with the Disclosure Policy.