Who loves getting mail? Right, we all do. When I was in university my mother would send me regular care packages filled with home made cookies, Kraft Dinner and a few times, bottles of green apple vodka.
There's just something special about getting presents in the mail.
And wouldn't it be fun if we could get presents EVERY SINGLE MONTH? YOGA PRESENTS!!!!
Enter monthly curated "boxes". I get it, I seriously get their appeal. I was tempted. I mean, the idea of getting a monthly box filled with yoga themed goodies sounds amazing, right?
Except... no. It's actually NOT amazing for a whole planet caring, wasteful to hell, bunch of reasons.
Essentially, these boxes are fancily packaged swag bags for products you've PAID to have delivered (and we know that unless you have a drone dropping this off it's trucks burning fuel) to your doorstep that you would never have otherwise bought and may not necessarily ever use.
In a world that is self-destructing with the amount of over consumption, this "monthly box" concept screams of wastefulness and feeds directly into our love for shiny new things. I get that, at heart I am a total crow. (SHINY!) But I've been working hard to decrease the amount of extra crap that I bring into my life.
Even "ethically sourced" boxes contain little trinkets that, let's be honest, likely wouldn't ever have been purchased otherwise. Instead, it's a great swag bag advertisement in a pretty disguise.
Let's take a look at the September "Buddhi Box" for example (review):
The cardboard box comes in another, larger cardboard box. Contents wrapped in a pretty green paper (sorry, but just because the colour is green doesn't automatically mean all that packaging is good for the environment- why the extra box? Why the paper wrapped stuff in TWO boxes?).
Every month a donation is made to a different charity. That's great. But ya know, I could actually choose a charity on my own, save some money and donate directly. Then I'd be able to control where my money was going, how much of it was being donated and how it was being used.
- A cute little asana card... which what. Goes on your fridge for a few months? Seriously, that piece of paper would never become a permanent part of my yoga practice. Recycled.
- Plastic wrapped macaroons. Which I would never have bought. I would be more likely to treat myself to a macaroon made by a local baker, sans the plastic wrap. I will very unlikely actually order from a random company for something edible that will be shipped hundreds of miles (and potentially across a country border).
- Special laundry detergent for sports clothes. This person ordered a giant jug of it. NoSweat Laundry detergent doesn't divulge it's ingredients. Which is sketchy. Nothing anywhere on the packaging says it's good for our waterways and environment in any way. I'm sorry, but having my yoga clothes be "extra" non sweaty simply isn't worth it. My Bio-Vert eco-friendly laundry detergent that is safe for our water and our planet cleans my yoga clothes extremely well, thank you.
- Jar of body butter. Well sure, this stuff is nice and eco-friendly, but it's made in Colorado (which for me is virtually on another coast and in another country). And... well I could either buy something similar locally OR make my own.
- Essential oil blend for headache relief. Something I would never use. I would either give it away or it would get lost somewhere and eventually be found years later, gone bad (since essential oils actually GO bad when they are in clear glass containers) and then I'd have to figure out a way to either recycle the glass bottle or it would get thrown into the landfill to last forever in a garbage bag.
- Organic spice blends in a "waste free single use packet". Um. Just to point out that single use products, by definition, are wasteful. Unlike the spices I buy in glass jars that last years and get used until the very last drop. Or that I purchase in bulk without any packaging at all.
- Reusable snack pouches. Now these I'd probably use. But did I really have to wade through all the other stuff I would never need and pay 30+$ for a pair of reusable snack bags that I could have purchased locally?
- Free live yoga streaming for a month. Again, would be nice but not something I necessarily need.
Only one of the eight things would I have used or purchased on my own. Even if you upped that percentage: say you average 6 or 7 out of 8 each month. In 12 months you are getting 12-24 "things" that will either get recycled or sent to their forever home- the landfill.
I think it's important not to be fooled by clever marketing and to see monthly curated "things" boxes for what they are: advertising ploys that encourage wasteful consumerism wrapped in a pretty, green package.
If you'd like to get a fun mail package each month, consider getting together with another yogi (or a small group) and sending each other one or two consumable or locally sourced "gifts" or inspirational notes or cards each month. You could set a price (say 5-10$ per item) and guidelines (only buy from local artists, focus on consumables).
Or- consider making your own curated "yoga" box as a one time gift for the yogi on your holiday list. Either give them the box all at once at Yulemas, OR send them an item each month of 2016.
Or maybe just invest the 396$ US (WHAT?????) a year you would have spent on a monthly, swag filled, box- in yoga products you need or would actually use (a yoga "wish list" let's say).