I heard about Silly Bandz recently, and I guess I’m about the last person on earth to hear about these things. They are these colored rubber bands shaped like animals that kids can wear like bracelets, trade, and shoot at each other in order to get them banned from their school. If it gets banned from your school, it must be good. These rubber bands sell for about $5 for a pack of 24 and they are selling by the bajillion.
That’s good news for their creator Robert Croak. He saw the potential for trading them, for kids to keep on buying and collecting them like Beanie Babies, and now he’s shipping 1500 boxes a day, with an estimated 75% profit margin. Not bad indeed.
As simple as that, right? I must admit though I’m a little ambivalent about stuff like this. On one hand, there must be a million entrepreneurs out there kicking themselves, thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?” My behind is a little sore too. It’s one of those things, like the Pet Rock. Why didn’t I think of sticking a damn rock in a box and selling it?
On the other hand, these rubber bands must be the epitome of consumerism. They serve no purpose other than driving their own market expansion. They are pure consumption. And when the ride is over, and the Silly Bandz market crashes, they will be relegated to boxes, drawers, and dwindling on-line auctions, like so much of our stuff that we needed to have for some reason that we quickly forget.
Then I had it- the answer: Eco Silly Bandz. Instead of making them from new material, stamp them from reused or recycled material. Old inner tubes, maybe. You can have your Silly Bandz and not bury the planet in them. I could have Fair Trade, Zero Impact Bandz shaped like endangered species. Buy offsets for Carbon Neutral Bandz shaped like polar bears.
I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but my lines are open Mr. Croak. You need to keep ahead of the imitators – Lets talk.
Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference” and “Starting Green” and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping green businesses to get started and grow.