"You Wanna Used Box With That?" Asks Columbia Sportswear

When $1.2 billion Columbia Sportswear launched a new E-Commerce site in August, it gave shoppers the option of having their goods shipped in a used box instead of a new one. It was an initiative the company hoped would resonate with its customers, folks who (being outdoorsy types) tend to have a fondness for trees. According to Columbia, the assumption was on target: About two-thirds of the products purchased since the site went live have been shipped in used boxes.

Adding to the eco-friendly fun, Columbia created another site that allows people to track boxes as they continue to be re-used by others. To make this box tracking possible, Columbia places on each used box a sticker that includes a unique, scannable QR code and a number that can be entered at the A Box Life site. Participants can also "post pictures and stories about their box and periodically return to the site to follow their box’s journey, helping to illustrate the value that one box can deliver in its lifespan," said the company.