Six tips to create sustainable promotional items for your brand / by Juliette Schraauwers

Many organisations (whether commercial or not-for-profit) are addicted to producing t-shirts, banners, notebooks, key cords and pens with their logo on it, to give away as gifts and/or to build brand recognition and visibility. More often than not, these items are produced under bad working conditions and with harmful materials. Have you ever wondered what happens to your promotional products after you give them away? Do people actually use the pen with your logo, or wear the shirt you made for your event? Does it end up in a drawer, or worse, does it end up on the landfill?

 
 The world is drowning in stuff, and cheap promotional materials are contributing to the problem.

The world is drowning in stuff, and cheap promotional materials are contributing to the problem.

 

While building a brand for social or environmental good, we sometimes forget that our promotional material also should be part of the change we want to see in the world! Fortunately there are some great alternatives. Take a look at these six ways you can create a win-win for your brand and for the world. 

greenalert

Tell us about your favourite eco friendly brand swag producers and let’s create an open database for sustainable swag! Mail: juliette@the-brandling.com

1. Give an experience, gift digitally or give something for people to gift onwards

 
 

The most fundamental step to more sustainable brand swag is to question if you even need it.

Can you increase your visibility and make yourself more memorable by gifting things that have a smaller footprint? Instead of contributing to the world drowning in stuff, gift an experience that people will remember you for: a drink, dinner, or day out, a gift certificate for music, a support session. Or give a gift that makes the receiver the hero: a kiva certificate in your name, a bag of seeds to plant vegetables…
 

2. Make it a product people love

 
 Personal finance is not a topic anyone wants to be associated with, unless it's one of the bags of the  Finance Bar .

Personal finance is not a topic anyone wants to be associated with, unless it's one of the bags of the Finance Bar.

 The  School of Life  offers therapy, workshops and courses, and have a lovely sense of humor which translates well to these totes.

The School of Life offers therapy, workshops and courses, and have a lovely sense of humor which translates well to these totes.

 

If you do want to give away objects, make sure they look great and people love to be seen with them! No one wants to be a walking billboard with logo’s pasted all over them. If you create something that people love to be seen with, chances are they will use it more often and longer. Lots of logos or advertising messages are never going to have a long life span. These totes by the Finance Bar and School of Life will do the trick. 

3. Switch from virgin to recycled materials

 Look for products made out of recycled and bio degradable materials, like Bamboo pens.

Look for products made out of recycled and bio degradable materials, like Bamboo pens.

And if you produce things people love, make sure they are made of the right stuff. Pens, bottles, key cords: they are all made from first cycle plastics (‘virgin’ materials). Think about the virgin material products you can switch to recycled materials. A pen made from recycled cardboard or bamboo is not just more friendly for the environment, but also much more noticeable than the other 400 plastic pens people already have at home. Win for your visibility, win for the world. You can even laser your logo into fruits these days - a memorable give away and fully compostable. 

4. Make it fair

 Studio Jux makes ethical, sustainable clothing and promotes its brand accordingly.

Studio Jux makes ethical, sustainable clothing and promotes its brand accordingly.

You can’t work to promote women equality with a t-shirt that was sown together by a woman working for less than a dollar a day. Switch to using fair trade, eco-cotton shirts. Now that is something you want your tribe to be seen in!

5. Give away objects that support sustainable behaviour

 
 Dopper water bottles make for great brand visibility and support sustainable habits.

Dopper water bottles make for great brand visibility and support sustainable habits.

 

To make more people aware of the waste of plastics for food and drinks packaging and help them make a difference, gift reusable bottles and lunchboxes. We spotted lovely designed water bottles at Asilia safari camps, Design Indaba and Amani Institute. Offering people at events or educational facilities durable bottles versus plastic throw away cups saves tons of plastic AND it can end up saving you money. And then there is always the trusted canvas tote (see point 2). Invest in a tote that lasts for years and you have an army of brand ambassadors on the streets.

6. Support local producers

 
 Sankalp Africa Forum 2017 name tags have chords designed and made by local artisans

Sankalp Africa Forum 2017 name tags have chords designed and made by local artisans

 

Conferences produce a lot of waste, and the thousands of lanyards and key cords are amongst the mountains of cheaply produced stuff that will end up in the trash within 24 hours. At Sankalp forum we spotted name tags on beautiful necklaces produced by local artisans. As a forum on social innovation and development, they are walking the walk, not just talking the talk!
 

There are no more excuses: go for green, fair brand swag! There’s no better way to promote your brand and be kind to the world. Everyday should be earth day.

Tell us about your favourite eco friendly brand swag producers and let’s create an open database for sustainable swag! Mail: juliette@the-brandling.com

Disclaimer: we are not endorsed by the above mentioned brands and producers and we are not paid for this post in any way.