Blurt’s BuddyBox: An all around good idea, but with a few caveats

I ordered August’s BuddyBox Lite as a one-off from the Blurt Foundation at the end of July. As someone who writes about mental health, it seemed like the ideal subscription box for me to get into.

About Blurt: The Blurt Foundation aims to help raise awareness of and support people with depression. They do this by distributing books, materials and treats to help promote compassion, awareness, self-help and fun activities for people in times of need.

A little on me: I was born with “endogenous depression”, or more simply, depression from birth. Although my depression is not historically severe, but I am prone to occasional bouts of feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, stress, anxiety and tearfulness. I do experience occasional episodes of suicidal thought, though with a friendly ear and  cup of tea, I am able to get through the tough days.

The BuddyBox: I ordered August’s “The Captain Of My Ship” BuddyBox Lite, which promises “at least 3 products”, priced at £12.00 . I felt that this was ample enough to give me an idea of the quality of these boxes, without compromising too much money if it all goes horribly wrong.

The days before: When you check out, you’re energetically informed that your BuddyBox will be shipped on the 9th of the next month, when all of their shipments go out. However, on the 9th August, a little email pinged into my inbox to tell me that my BuddyBox had been delayed because of some issues with the box suppliers. and my box will now not be shipped until 12th August. While it’s generally understandable that things like this happen, I felt like some sort of concession would have been nice. Free shipping on your next order? 10% off of your next box? There are always ways to keep your customers happy without severely compromising your aim and, as a first-time customer, I had to wonder how often hiccups like this happened. By this experience alone, I would not be ordering from Blurt again.

It arrives: My Blurt BuddyBox arrived to me on 14th August. Initially, I was confused because I knew that it was coming in, well, a box. Instead, my box had been shoved seemingly unceremoniously into a grey plastic postal bag and shipped to me only a few days before. Again, I failed to understand the the need for the extra plastic and, as someone who is trying to reduce her use of single-use plastic, this seemed in excess. Even postal health snack distributor Graze uses less single-use plastic than this!

First impressions: With the grey plastic bag now gone, I was greeted by some pretty nautical artwork on the box sleeve itself. Each side featured Blurt’s web address in a white , unobtrusive print and “BuddyBox” in a swirly font on top. It advertised the company without demanding your immediate attention, colour me impressed. The box itself, however, is simply plain cardboard.

What’s inside: With the lid removed, I was presented with an equally attractive postcard with a quote from Socrates. While the intention was great, the back of the card was plain- no personal messages, no guidance, nothing. Slightly miffed at another lost opportunity to feel like a valued customer, I tossed it to one side.

Underneath that though, was the most beautiful, nautical tissue paper that I think I have ever seen- a powder blue paper delicately printed with light blue wheels. If I could just have a box of that tissue paper to use to wrap gifts in, I think I’d be very happy indeed! Holding it all togetber was a sticker seal with the same seagull as was drawn on the postcard. The same seagull  who, for the entirety of that afternoon, I’d dubbed Simon – Simon the Seagull.

The contents: The contents of my box started to slip out before I could photograph the paper and I had to tuck them back in to keep things in order. With my technical difficulties out of the way, I slowly and delicately peeled back Simon (mindful of the tissue paper that I oh so wanted to preserve, of course) to reveal 2 books, a pamphlet and a packet of “Sea of Uncertainty”. The books and contents were as follows:

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  • 365 Ways To Be Confident – I gave this book a read through. However, as someone who is generally quite confident (even if occasionally a little blue) I didn’t feel this book really best suited me. Instead, I gave it to my husband , who struggles a lot more with his self-esteem than I do. He was exceptionally grateful for my generosity and absolutely loves some of the ideas in this book.
  • The Self-Helpful Series, Workbook 1: Getting to grips with who you are– Make no mistake, this book really moved me and it was the one I kept for myself. It asks you various questions, like what you like, what you don’t like, who inspires you, who (or what) annoys you. Towards the end, it asks you to list your limiting beliefs, then take a black pen and cross them out because they are no longer true for you. This exercise moved me to tears and made me begin to see that I am beautiful, I’m not hopeless, and I can be more and I can do more.  This book is also printed by Blurt Foundation themselves and feels good quality.
  • Zine” pamphlet– This little pamphlet has made it to my “emotional first aid” box (which I will write about another time) because it’s really helpful and supportive for combating one of the biggest burdens in my life – the fact that my mother thinks I am autistic. As many (or probably more than) people who knew me back then know me now, and nobody, not even my doctor, will utter such an idea. Unfortunately, now that my Mum has been given this idea when I was a child,  she wants me diagnosed and she wants supported, as any mother would surely want for their child. For me, I refuse because I don’t believe that I meet any (or many) of the descriptors and I instead match the markers for being gifted and sensitive. That’s fine! This little pamphlet taught me that as long as we accept each other’s opinions and don’t try to force our views on one another – fine.
  • The Sea of Uncertainty from Mapology Guides: I get what this little map was about, but I was rather perturbed by it arriving wrapped in plastic. My initial thoughts were that it was something edible or something with small parts, so to find that it was really just a map (a good quality one mind you, with really helpful tips and insights) that was wrapped in plastic seemed a bit pointless to me. A lot of the information on this map I knew about already, but I kept it anyway, just because it’s not always so easy to think about the obvious at times of high stress.

Final thoughts – the pros: 

  • Some of the resources are really informative and helpful, even for some people who feel like they’ve sort of got a foot in the door from previous therapy sessions, like I have.
  • The packaging is attractive and the running theme throughout the box makes sure that nothing looks garish and out of place.The hand-drawn artwork is a nice touch, too.
  • Even if one of the books wasn’t suited to me, the fact that it wasn’t personalised meant that I could gift it to someone who would appreciate it and use it. In my case, my husband.
  • You definitely do “break even”. Just to test that theory, I scanned the barcode on the back of “365 Ways To Feel Confident”, fearing that it might have been a discounted book that had failed to sell and was there for going for pennies. However, I found two listings priced at around £7 for this book, which leaves an allowance of £5 for the other contents and packaging which seems pretty reasonable. Given this, I’d definitely say that the BuddyBox was value for money.

And the cons:

  • First and foremost, obviously, the box was delayed with no compensation or discounts. This doesn’t do much to make first-time buyers feel confident about future transactions.
  • The amount of plastic – At a time when we’re supposed to be reducing how much single-use plastic we generate and Greta Thunberg is sailing the Atlantic on a carbon-neutral vessel in aid of climate change, I couldn’t help but think about how much plastic this box carried, and how much plastic is being produced for better mental health. There were two pieces of single-use plastic for my order alone, so however many orders Blurt Foundation received, it’s producing at least as many pieces of single-use plastic, doubled.
  •  Finally, there is no obvious information about whether or not your empty box can be recycled. My gut instinct said yes, and the fact that the recycling guys seemed to agree with me, then I would say that theory checked out. However, this information isn’t obvious anywhere in the box and people may err on the side of caution, leading to more of the packaging needlessly ending up in landfill.

Overall, would you buy this box again?

I was initially frustrated with Blurt and the fact that I felt almost disregarded and fobbed off by their email about packaging suppliers. However, much of the content of these boxes is informative and helpful. I think I would buy a Blurt box again, on the proviso that they reduce or eliminate the amount of single-use plastic involved with these boxes. There really is no need for a cardboard box to be shipped inside a plastic bag!

What rating would you give this box?

Good value overall, minus a few hiccups. It loses a star for the delays and needless plastic!

Do you know of a subscription box which is aimed at or helps improve your mental health? Let me know in the comments!

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