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Subscription Addiction: CAUSEBOX Delivers Luxuries You Can Feel Good About

By Kristy Puchko | Guides | April 24, 2017 |

By Kristy Puchko | Guides | April 24, 2017 |

A way to treat yourself you can feel good about, CAUSEBOX brings a curated line of socially conscious products to your door. This seasonal subscription service sends clients a blind box of home goods, accessories, and beauty products from around the globe, each sourced from a company dedicated to doing some good. You not only get some cool knickknacks and jewelry, but also the stories that created each one, or the promise of charity your purchase provides.

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How It Works

It’s incredibly straightforward. There’s no surveys or taste profiles. Just go to CAUSEBOX and sign up. You’ll be added to the receiving list of their next shipment. The cost ranges from $49.95 to $54.95 a box, depending on if you subscribe for a year or per quarter. I gave the Spring Box a go, paying the larger, quarterly rate. You can also peruse the contents of past boxes on their site, to see if their style suits you.

How It Went

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Altru: “Stay True” Canvas Banner
Official description:: “Canvas banner, hand-sewn under fair trade conditions by female artisans in India for CAUSEBOX’s first original brand, Altru.”

Along with the goodies, CAUSEBOX’s Spring delivery includes a brief “Good News” magazine that offers details about every item. It’s basically like the in-box magazine provided by Loot Crate, but focusing on charity and sustainable business over geeky goods. According to the mini-mag, CAUSEBOX’s theme this season is Stay True. “Sometimes you need to be reminded you’re pretty great (and you really are),” CAUSEBOX co-founders Matt & Brett write of this item, “So we thought we’d remind you.”

This on-theme and charming banner made of heavy-weight canvas and felt letters is the product of Tribe Alive, a company that employs artisans in Guatemala, Haiti, and India. Measuring 14 x 18 inches, it’s a good size, and looks like it’d be a part of a chic Pinterest board or set dressing in the apartment of a cool but harried rom-com heroine. So, it’ll fit nicely amid my walls of framed comic prints, quirky birdhouses, and feminist cross-stitch.

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Braid: Room and Linen Spritzer
Official Description:
“Room and linen spritzer made with organic, essential oils—perfect for tidying up and refreshing your favorite spaces.”

Freaked out by all the chemicals that are infused in so many of our everyday products? So was Molly Parker, so she created a BRAID line of deodorizers that are natural, made of water and citrus oils, including lemon, lime, sweet orange, tangerine, and grapefruit. It’s refreshing without being sickly sweet. And BRAID donates 10% of its profits to Hope Supply Co., a charity dedicated to the welfare of homeless children.

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SASA DESIGNES: Mini Equator Stud Earrings
Official Description:
“Hand-made from hammered brass by artisans in Mexico.”

SASA Designs is a company dedicated to enabling artisans a livelihood through collaboration. According to “Good News,” most of their jewelry is made by a community of deaf women in Kenya, that’s grown from five to 14, who are all able to support their families because of this work. And according to the packaging: “Your purchase benefits our communities of artisans and helps us continue promoting fair, healthy and sustainable practices. In addition, with every purchase a donation is made to support girls education the developing world.”

These gold earrings have an edgy flare thanks to the hammered effect. Nearly an inch-long, they’re bold but not door-knocker big. Sadly, all I sport on my earlobes are scar tissue from an impulsive middle-school decision to get them pierced, and the defiant teen decision to give up on them. Still, these earrings will make a nice gift, especially in the snazzy cloth gift bag they arrived in. But I’m bummed that earrings are considered a given, over more versatile jewelry like a necklace or bracelet or ring.

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Banded: 6 pack of hair tyes
Official Description:
“Six pack of multi-size hair ties, in exclusive Spring color-way for CAUSEBOX.”

Easier-on-your hair bands, this collection boasts a lovely range of colors. But the best part is that for every one pack of these that are bought, three meals are provided to a child in need in Uganda. Since 2012, Banded has provided 9.3 million meals through hair product sales. Which is incredible! Bit of a bummer for me, my hair’s too short to make any use of them. So, this too will be added to my gift pile.

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The Renewal Workshop: $20 Gift Card
Official Description:
“$20 gift card for The Renewal Workshop’s online store — an innovative place to sustainably purchase ‘renewed’ outdoor apparel from leading brands.”

Okay. The mission of this shop is to reduce waste by giving clothes and fabrics a second life. But this item is bullshit. When I worked in retail, there was an irate husband who’d been holding his wife’s place in line. And when he got to the front, she still hadn’t returned with her purchases. So he stalled by insisting he wanted to buy $1 gift cards. He immediately insisted he was allowed because the signs didn’t say there was a minimum. And I explained to him that was true, but as nothing at The GAP cost $1 it’d be less a “gift card” and more a “coupon card.” And that’s what this is. There’s nothing on the site under $20. And if I had to pick a word to describe the The Renewal Shop’s aesthetic, it’d be “frumpy.” There’s some Old Navy-looking tops I would probably wear when layering. But with the higher price tag of upwards of $40, I lose interest even with a $20 head start. And this gift card feels weird to give as a gift because, well—it’s not totally. I might chalk this up to a flat-out donation rather than pay more for a piece of clothing I’m underwhelmed by just to make use of this “gift card.”

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This Bar Saves Lives: Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Sea Salt Bar
Official Description:
“Best-selling bar from This Bar Saves Lives — for every bar purchased, life-saving food is donated to a child in need.”

I mean, the name says it all, right? For every bar sold, nourishing food is given to a child in need. Specifically, This Bar Saves Lives has helped put a nutrient-rich meal packet called “Plumpy ‘Nut” into the hands of starving children to help them pull out of malnutrition fast! It’s estimated that this snack bar line has provided 1.5 million meal packets, potentially saving as many as 7,000 lives.

It’s also tasty: semi-sweet, salty, and crunchy. And at $2.69 retail might need to be the new brand I back instead of KIND bars.

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Lili Arnold: Exclusive “Be You” Print
Official Description:
“Exclusively designed “Be You” art piece — originally produced as a block print by Santa Cruz, California based artist Lili Arnold.”

Arnold is also the designer behind the aqua and cerulean floral CAUSEBOX design this season. Her 5x7 inch print is colorful, detailed, and easy to frame. I’m considering doing just that as a gift for my little niece. It’s darling, but a bit twee for my tastes.

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MudLove: Exclusive Multi-Use Container
Official Description
: “Hand-made from clay in Warsaw, Indiana exclusively for CAUSEBOX — MudLOVE donates one week’s worth of safe, clean water to someone in need for every product sold.”

So bummer: this featured product wasn’t actually finished in time to ship for Spring. Perhaps they’ll be included in a future box. Instead, I got a card of apology along with two promised replacements. And frankly both are things I’d prefer to a random—though pretty!—container. The first is:

The THX Co: Vanilla Bean Candle
This 100% soywax candle with a wood wick comes in a metal tin, and packs a pungent and pleasant scent. And it’s the proud product of young adults in Miami, Florida, who are developmentally disabled. As I have a cousin with such a condition, I’m familiar with the prejudice such young people can find when looking for work. Learning a craft like candle-making—or in my cousin’s case woodworking—can be an important step toward confidence and in some cases self-sufficiency.

Measuring three inches across, It’s a really lovely candle, and the bit of wood wick gives it a earthy smell perfect for the approaching warm weather.

Gramr Gratitude Co: Thank You cards
Also said to be included in my box was a 6-pack of gold-foiled thank you cards, designed and printed in Los Angeles from a company that donates a book to Africa for every product sold. But I couldn’t seem to find these cards. Then I noticed an email from Causebox:

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Yup. The spritzer spits, more than spritzes. So I’m being sent a replacement nozzle. And the cards were being shipped separately because of a handling error. No biggie. The cards arrived in under a week, and are lovely. The spritzer nozzle I’m waiting on, making due with one that’s a bit wonky in the meantime.

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Conclusion: There’s a slew of different subscription boxes that essentially boil down to girly knickknacks. And as a woman who is picky and lives in a one-bedroom apartment, I have little patience and no spare room (or attic of gift pantry) to store stuff I don’t want but that’s too nice to just toss. So, I have been long reluctant to give such services a try. But with the whole charity/sustainability angle, CAUSEBOX conquered my reluctance.

There were definitely some hiccups to my first box. But it’s hard to be bothered when you know it’s a company that’s not only trying to get its customers neat items, but also doing good in the world. CAUSEBOX is definitely going through some growing pains. But I’d still recommend it. The items I got are lovely. Those bobbles that don’t suit my personal needs or style are mostly charming enough to be easy to regift. And when there was an issue, CAUSEBOX was on it before I even realized there was a problem! The customer service has been great. While I won’t be subscribing next season, I might consider sending a box to a friend or family member for a clever and caring Christmas gift next winter.

Check out Subscription Addiction reviews for Level Up, Stitch Fix, Try The World, Darby Smart, Treatsie, Chococurb, Loot Crate, Candy Club, Blue Apron, Bright Cellars, Julep, and Bright Cellars Cheese. In the comments, tell us which subscription service you’d like to see reviewed next.