Nov 12, 2015

Keeping Your Swag Sustainable

In today’s world, most companies have included environmental sustainability as a part of their corporate responsibility.  As a result, we know that companies are always on the lookout for easy ways to bring sustainable practices into their daily routines.  In response to this increase of sustainability awareness, sustainable swag has hit the promotional products and branded apparel industry. 

Swag, meet Sustainability

Few trends have taken over the swag industry with the same intensity as the sustainability movement. It started in 2004 with roughly 100 green or environmentally-friendly products and expanded to five times that number by 2008. Today, there are thousands of sustainable products available in our industry.

What makes swag sustainable? Simply put: any products that make a conscious effort to preserve the environment are considered sustainable.  Below are a few of the core materials used in these products:
  • Organic Cotton - Suppliers who grow organic cotton avoid the pesticides, herbicides and insecticides usually used during the growing cycle to help boost cotton production. The benefit? Products made from this type of cotton don’t play any role in adding more harmful compounds to the environment.
  • Recycled PET - Polyethylene terephthalate plastics (known much, much more commonly as PET plastics) use recyclable plastic, helping lower the amounts of waste in landfills. Many plastic items such as pens and water bottles can be made with PET plastics. 
  • Biodegradable Fabrics - These include any fabric that can quickly decompose into elements naturally found in the environment. Bamboo Fabric, Soy Silk, Fortrel EcoSpun and Ingeo Corn Fiber are just a few common examples found in the market today.
    • Bamboo Fabric - Made from bamboo cellulose fibers, it’s naturally antibacterial and 100 percent biodegradable and sustainable.
    • Soy Silk - This material is made from protein fibers spun into a thread-like material
    • Ingeo Corn Fiber - This fiber is created by extracting starch and then sugars from corn, and then processing them into a form that can be spun into a yarn or woven into fabric.
    • Fortrel EcoSpun - This polyester is made from recycled bottles and is commonly used to make fleece.
Just as the promotional products industry has grown over the years, so has the variety of products under the banner of sustainability. Textiles and plastics still lead the way as the most popular, but other innovations have found a foothold in the industry.

For instance, solar power plays a key role for a lot of our sustainable electronic products. Flashlights, lights and calculators can all benefit from trading disposable batteries for renewable solar power. Along with that, biodegradable corn plastic has a role in all sorts of plastic products from golf tees to barware.

It’s worth making the change

We have to be honest here: for the supplier, going green doesn’t mean saving green. It’s part of the tradeoff that comes with taking an environmentally responsible approach to your promotions. Cheaper options often go hand in hand with cheaper production, and that rarely means sustainable practices.

But the bottom line isn’t everything. Taking an environmentally conscious approach to promotional swag connects your brand to a positive cause.

This is a win-win given the fact promotional products are designed to improve your brand and get it in front of as many people as possible. If you want to boost your brand’s visibility, do it in a green way that your customers can support.

And the same thing applies to suppliers and manufacturers. If you’re already in the business of creating and selling swag options, adding sustainable products to your inventory is a necessity. Not only does it help distinguish you from your competitors, but it also gives you the opportunity to cut down on the amount of “stuff” that’s thrown out across the world.

So, what’s next?

The decision whether to take a sustainable approach is entirely up you. If you’re asking us, we say it’s worth going the extra mile — at least for the products that have sustainable alternatives. And as sustainability becomes the norm over the next few years, you’ll have even more opportunities to make it a part of your promotional decisions.

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