I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with the beauty advent calendar. Once, I had the idea to create one. That is the truth. After months and months of back and forth with an offshore manufacturer and an artist, 200 beauty advent calendars arrived in the office. The whole team hustled to fill each box with miniature beauty products, wrapping them individually in pretty pink tissue paper before placing them inside a beautifully designed, numbered box. It was happening. We were entering the busine
ss of the advent calendar – how exciting! The boxes sat in the office because there was no room for them in the warehouse. I walked past them every day to get to my desk. Every. Day. And every day in the lead-up to Christmas, I watched as they continued to sit there. Of course, some people purchased them. People love beauty advent calendars for their novelty. But the ones that didn’t sell sat in the office, within my line of sight, a stark reminder that soon they would need to be destroyed. And so, after working to get this project going for most of the year, using a chunk of the marketing budget, the unsold advent calendars were unboxed, the miniature products were taken out and the boxes were flattened and destroyed. It broke my marketer’s heart. You’re probably thinking, well that’s OK, surely they were recycled. Regardless of whether we sold them or shipped them off to a customer, I discovered that a beauty advent calendar will hardly ever end up in recycling. Here’s something you may not know (which still makes me cringe to this day), the majority of beauty advent calendars cannot be recycled because they’re manufactured using coated cardboard. That coated outer is what makes them look so magnificent and colourful. That eye-catching cardboard you see is lined with plastic or wax, making them, you guessed it, unrecyclable. From the raw materials used in manufacturing to the energy consumed during the entire production process, beauty advent calendars contribute to a considerable carbon footprint. A logistics nightmare The thing about beauty advent calendars, much like my high-school fascination with disposable black-and-white cameras, is that they have a limited lifespan. Once you manufacture and market them, you have roughly six to eight weeks, at most, to move all of them. Why? Because you cannot sell last year’s advent calendar. It’s like wearing last year’s Oscar dress to this year’s Oscars. You just wouldn’t do it. A nationally representative Finder survey showed that the average Aussie is expected to spend $1,479 this Christmas. Unfortunately, nearly half of that Christmas spending is going to end up in landfills. And yes, that includes all those beauty advent calendars. Doesn’t that just fill your heart with the holiday spirit? Even worse, and something of a logistics nightmare, is that beauty advent calendars are not small, regardless of the little miniature beauty products that sit inside them. They’re heavy and bulky enough to feel like you’re carrying a brick, which means they take up considerable space when shipping them from A to B. Larger items mean more trips to move the same amount of cargo. Do you see where I’m going with this? So while they look cute and make people happy for a second or two, beauty advent calendars are horrible for Mother Earth. In fact, she hates them, she told me personally all those years ago. A temporary thrill If your business has a sustainability policy and is pushing to be greener as a result, there’s one decision you should be making and that is to remove the beauty advent calendar from your marketing investment for the year. The best part? You’ve just freed up a substantial amount of money that you can now spend on an initiative that has a longer impact on loyalty and sustained revenue. Everyone loves the sound of that. Meanwhile, if you’re a consumer of beauty advent calendars, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the excitement of opening those unrecyclable boxes every day will eventually fade away. When you consider the environmental impact versus the temporary thrill, you will find that a few moments of happiness can equally be found in sipping a glass of champagne or enjoying a bar of chocolate. So, this Christmas and next, say no to producing, buying, gifting or opening a beauty advent calendar. It’s not worth it and it’s not the future.