Why I Canceled My Subscription Box Service

Today you can get a subscription box for just about anything. Companies will deliver meals, clothes, books, pet supplies, beauty supplies, shaving supplies, toys, crafts, and more to your door monthly and charge your account without you even having to think about it. While it might seem convenient and economic, there are drawbacks that you might not notice right away.

I have been what I call a “minimalist in training” for almost a decade. I’ve read Marie Kondo, Cait Flanders, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, and Joshua Becker. I’ve watched Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things more than once, and my favorite websites have the word simple or less or purpose in the titles. I KNOW how to practice essentialism and minimalism, but from time to time good marketing has caught me off guard. I’m not saying subscription box services are bad or trying to trick you or swindle you. There are probably a lot of people who love them and find value in the service. I’m just not sure if you are trying to live a life with less that this is the way to go. Here’s why….

After being enticed by multiple adds on social media, I tried a meal plan subscription. I thought the service would save me time and money and might even make cooking fun. The plan was customizable and I could change delivery dates if I didn’t need a box one week. I thought I would eliminate waste not having to throw out expired goods and moldy produce from the grocery store. However, there was a lot of waste. The huge box and packing material filled up half of my huge outdoor trash can. The recipes were not always easy or fun and my family was not impressed with the meals I created. The plan also required me to be online quite a bit trying to decide which meal plan and recipes were best and scheduling and rescheduling deliveries. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth the money, time, or trash and quit.

Years later, I came across another service that was very popular on social media, so I gave it a try. I found all kinds of eco-friendly household products with prices comparable to a grocery store. Again, I thought this service would save me time and money and help save the planet! I got free shipping, numerous discounts, and even free products with each shipment. However, I was soon spending at least $20 each month on items I really didn’t need. I found myself scrolling through pages of products deciding which ones I should “try” and adding them to my cart. I was feeling happy cleaning with a delightfully scented product and I was doing something good when I bought toilet paper made from bamboo. It was not long before happiness was replaced with anxiety as products were starting to spill out of my cabinets. The “high” was wearing off and I realized these products were not really making me happy or bringing any real value to my life. I decided to cancel. I anticipated simply clicking a button to delete my account, but it was not that easy. I had to deactivate the service at one website and also go to my Pay Pal account and delete the subscription service from there as well.

In the end, there was really nothing those services provided me that was helpful or purposeful or that added value to my life but I can tell you what I lost.

  • Time – I was spending time scrolling through pages of products or meals rather than simply adding items I needed to a grocery list. I was spending a lot of time planning my online purchases or checking to see if I earned a free product.
  • Money – I was adding items to my cart on an impulse and making excuses for why I should purchase it. I kept saying, “Its only $20.” While $20 might not be a lot, I could have used it to share an experience with friends and family or to learn a skill. For example, I recently used what I would normally spend on a subscription box service and signed up for an online painting class. I’m loving it way more than my scented soap.
  • Space – All those cabinets I took time clearing out were again crowded and cluttered and my garbage can was overflowing from all the packaging.
  • Contentment – I was starting to feel that I needed all these items but soon felt guilty as I looked at the free hand lotion that I didn’t like or the cleanser that ended up not smelling good. Additionally, the bamboo paper towels didn’t tear easily and the free dish scrubber brush needed replacement scrubbers. I soon began to feel mad at myself for somehow going back to the clutter and chaos that I had abandoned long ago.

If you are considering a subscription box service, ask yourself:

  • Is this service really convenient? Are the products readily available at a store I shop at frequently?
  • Is there a service fee, shipping fee, or annual fee? Sometimes these are charged to your account without notice.
  • Why are you making the purchases? Is it something you really need or are you adding things to your cart on impulse because they are on sale, or you just want to try it out?
  • Are you using what you purchase or are products starting to pile up because they are not what you expected?
  • How easy is it to return an item? Consider the time and money it might cost to return an item (e.g., printing out labels, driving to post office, paying for postage).
  • How easy is it to cancel?

I am happy to report that I am subscription box free and feeling much better. I’m using up the last of the products and have given several items away. I am returning my simpler and happier way of living…..with less.

I’d love to know if you use a subscription box service or have in the past. What did you think of it?

Until next time…..be well!

Lori

Waste Not, Want Not: Time, Money, and Trash

I recently watched a 2007 documentary called The Story of Stuff and I was blown away. The narrator stated “99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months.” That is a frightening statistic. Especially considering all the resources used to make the stuff and the state of the landfills where a lot of it ends up.

When I began decluttering, I noted time wasted shopping, cleaning and moving all my stuff and money wasted that could have been spent toward something of real value. This really got me thinking, ”What can I do right now to help eliminate waste and benefit both me and my planet?” Therefore, I am choosing to focus on these 3 areas: time, money, and trash.

Time:

I can say, since I made some lifestyle changes and began living with less, I have significantly decreased time wasted shopping for stuff. However, I still waste time. If I made a list of activities I enjoyed doing or goals I wanted to achieve, I’m pretty sure mindlessly scrolling through social media would not be on that list. Yet, time after time, I find myself sitting, eyes glazed over and my finger tapping and swiping, looking at things I’m not really interested in. I read about an app in the Technology Issue of Simplify Magazine which would change that. In an article called Consume Less, Create More Brian Gardner suggests using the Moment app to help avoid drains on attention. I downloaded the free version and in less than half a day I had been on my phone over 2 hours! I thought of all I could accomplish in 2 hours and opportunities I had missed while on my phone. After a week, I upgraded to the full version and cut time spent on my phone in half. I also increased awareness of when my phone was in my hand so I could put it down and get on with my life. Time is the one thing I can’t get back so I will make Izey Victoria Odiase’s words my mantra. She says, “Work on purpose, play on purpose, rest on purpose. Do not let yourself or anyone else waste your time.”

3 things I can do now to stop wasting time:

  • Keep my phone out of reach and continue to monitor use with the Moment app to become aware of when and why I am on my phone.
  • Read a real book or use my Kindle Paperwhite instead of the app on my phone. This lessens the temptation to wander to apps where I waste time.
  • Make a list of 10 things I want to do on paper. When I find myself wasting time, I will get up and spend time doing something on that list.

Money:

I’ve spent the last 20 years in education and am pretty naive about how things work in the business world. Therefore, I’m trying to become a more informed consumer and not be duped by flashy advertising into believing I need to consume more and more to be happy. I recently learned about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. These are business practices used to get consumers to purchase a new product because the old one no longer works properly or is no longer cool. The Story of Stuff explains it this way, “Planned obsolescence is another word for “designed for the dump.” It means they actually make stuff that is designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will chuck it and go buy a new one.” “Perceived obsolescence convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful.” These strategies have been around for decades but seem to be becoming more extreme, especially in today’s technology and fashion worlds. By being informed, I can stand my ground when the next marketing campaign tries to entice me.

5 things I can do now to save money:

  • I can give up “cool” for a bigger life, just like Joy Netanya Thompson
  • Make only planned purchases.
  • Have weeks or months of no spending. Cait Flanders did a whole year if your up for an extreme challenge!!
  • Purchase quality items instead of cheap and disposable ones.
  • Complete my capsule wardrobe

Trash:

My family of 3 averages about 1 kitchen sized bag of trash per day. To me it seems like quite a bit. Most of it is related to food – the food itself, forgotten in the back of the fridge and no longer recognizable, and food packaging, boxes, plastic containers, plastic wrappers, paper towels and yes folks, paper plates. I have been making my way through these documentaries to get more ideas for decreasing waste. One that really amazed me was the 2009 documentary, No Impact Man. In this film, Colin Bevan and his family spend a pretty radical year attempting to live in the city making as little environmental impact as possible. While I’m not ready to give up electricity and my car, I can make simple changes. I have started looking around my house and just in my pantry are a number of things I have purchased, intended for some Pinterest recipe, I’m sure. Unfortunately, many times these products end up in the trash, out of date, never opened.

5 things I can do now to reduce trash:

  • Purchase only foods I know my family will eat.
  • Get a water filter.
  • Purchase items with very little or no packaging.
  • Shop with reusable bags.
  • Use real plates and cloth napkins and towels.

Hopefully, a few small changes will begin to have a cumulative effect with big results for a more simple, more purposeful, and more joyful life.

If you have any ideas or advice, please share!! What is wasting your time and money? What are things you have done to reduce, reuse and recycle?

Until next time,

Be Well.

This post was published at No Sidebar. You can see it here.