Are Your Eco Friendly Giveaways REALLY Green?

May 20, 2016

Are Your Eco Friendly Giveaways REALLY Green?


You've been warned. I'm calling companies on the green carpet (also known as 'the green grass'!) Several prospective clients asking us "what are the best promotional giveaways for green companies?" has got me on my soap box.

  • Does your company recycle electronics?
  • Does your company build green buildings?
  • Does your company design green buildings?
  • Is your business located in a LEED certified building?
  • Are you an organic or farm to table restaurant?
  • Do you care about leaving the Earth in better shape than you found it to your children and grandchildren?
  • Did you answer any or all of these with a YES?  
  • You should be buying the best promotional items in the green category for your company's marketing giveaways. 

What you should consider when buying eco friendly promotional items:

1. Buy useful promotional giveaways. When you put your business logo on swag that likely won't be used and ends up in the trash, your company is contributing to the plastic gyres in our oceans. 

2. Buy reusable branded giveaways. One time use, bottled water should be outlawed in my opinion. Well, it has been in some cities and university campuses. Read more about bottled water bans. Many cities have banned plastic bags and/or tax individual use bags as well. This is one reason custom water bottles and reusable bags are such popular company swag.

3. Purchase eco friendly giveaways with TRUE recycled content. What's true recycled content? To me, it's post consumer recycled material. You know, something you and I used, put in the recycling bin and it got transformed into something else.
What's NOT-SO-TRUE recycled material? It's also know as factory scraps or factory regrind. This material never made it to a consumer's door. Better than not recycled at all, but always focus on true recycled material when possible.
INSIDER TIP: we see many competitors websites that list an item as recycled. It's the factory scraps, not post consumer recycled material. It's up to you to ask questions. Or partner with PROMOrx!

4. Buying giveaways that have an indicator that they are made from recycled material, sustainable materials or are recyclable is smart marketing. If it's not obvious, add it to your logo so people know. See the  recycled tire jar opener below where we suggested our client add the line of text and recyclable symbol so recipients know this is an earth friendly item.

These pens have recycled content and the recyclable symbol is pre-printed on the clip letting everyone know they're eco or earth friendly.
Sustainable giveaways made from bamboo, like these logo pens  are pretty universally recognized as sustainable.

INSIDER TIP: those three chasing arrows? They do NOT mean an item is recycled, simply that it's recyclable. BIG DIFFERENCE! Read about those 3 Chasing Arrows!
Too many marketers would love to have you think those arrows always mean recycled when sometimes they do not.

5. Don't be greenwashed. See number 3 and number 4 above.

6. Buy USA made products even if they aren't recycled or sustainable. Why? You're supporting jobs in the USA. Many, many promotional items are manufactured in China, shipped to the USA where they are printed or embroidered and then shipped to you, the end user. That's a lot of miles, all affecting our atmosphere and potentially our oceans.
There is a pen that has recycled material AND is USA made. Double bonus! These custom insulated tumblers are USA made and are reusable. 

Many green consumers, myself included, may look elsewhere if your promotional giveaways aren't in alignment with your marketing message. (I'm still scratching my head at past political candidates screaming BUY AMERICAN, KEEP JOBS IN AMERICA who are then sporting political swag with Made in China or Guatemala tags.

Last sage advice (yes, I'm on a green jag!), the best promotional giveaways for green companies are not always about the price. It should be about marketing alignment.  


Blogger: Vickie MacFadden, the owner. I'm a tell it like it is Southerner who loves apple butter (when there's enough cinnamon), red convertibles and you'll just about always find me wearing something purple.  I've been recycling and calling out greenwashing for years. And yes, I have a reusable bottle Vickie at PROMOrx dot com  888.553.9569 x 3