June 6, 2017

Green and Eco-friendly Promotional Products

Submitted by Kelly Glass

Despite their long history and broad usage, disposable plastic shopping bags are on their way out. A number of cities nationwide have banned disposable plastic bags completely. Meanwhile, other cities like Chicago have created a tax to suppress their use by consumers. According to local news site DNA Info, the 7-cent tax instituted at the beginning of the year is already having a major effect, compelling grocery shoppers to bring their own bags instead of paying the small cost.

As with most things, changes in regulations — even environmental ones — create marketing opportunities. Grocers both big and small are offering reusable bags, including ones made of recycled materials. As they expand and remodel stores throughout the U.S., Aldi requires that shoppers bring their bags to checkout. Meanwhile, Instacart, the comprehensive online grocery shopping and delivery service, packages groceries in Instacart-branded green and white shopping bags. While helping their customers to act in an environmentally-conscious way, both Aldi and Instacart are marketing with reusable bags, making them a very effective and eco-friendly promotional product.

Around Earth Day, NBC News detailed some of the various approaches to promoting sustainability through branded promotional products and discounts. Some of the ideas were drinkware and portable items that appeal to busy professionals.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has begun to favor licensed sportswear and swag made by specialty eco-friendly firms. Last month's MLB Retail Summit in Chicago showcased wearables made of 100% recycled material-based fabrics. Also featured were "upcycled" garments by Refried Tees, that pair a little bit of cutting edge design with discontinued or extra-stock garments to make new wearables.

"Organic clothing is (a) great environmentally-friendly option for promotional products," writes website Hydrogen Fuel News. The energy and sustainability blog points out that any reusable items are good choices which go beyond dollars and sense, because they are used repeatedly, won’t end up in landfills and demonstrate companies’ sociopolitical values to customers and prospects.

As such, some small and medium-sized businesses may initially choose not to invest money in promotional products marketing if they think plastic and other non-biodegradable materials are used. Others will be willing to buy "swag with a conscience" from distributors that make green an option.

"T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags and pouches can all be made with organic materials such as hemp and vegetable dyes," HF News also points out, while also mentioning that items like reusable coffee mugs aren't just classics, but also can be considered eco-friendly given the longevity of their use.

In recent years as green or sustainable practices have become important to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) everywhere, many mark Earth Day as another way to convey their values to customers. Earth Day doubles as another reason to brand and give out promotional products, making it as important as other events and holidays during of the year, such as Back To School, March Madness and Independence Day.

That said, green or earth-friendly promotional products are nothing new, as the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) pointed out a few years ago when it started publishing articles about items including water bottles and bamboo utensils. These and other reusable food and drink items are becoming favorites of businesses that regularly give away logoed promotional products to customers. Even more recently, ASI profiled in Wearables Magazine that organic and natural dyes are becoming more commonplace among orders for decorated apparel and t-shirts by businesses.

Overall, from special giveaways to loyal customers to higher-volumes freebies that are ideal for trade shows, SMBs are always looking ways to keep their marketing fresh and appealing. Meanwhile, many want to consider their carbon footprints.

When talking to new prospects and repeat customers, let them know about eco-friendly options that exist for almost every type of campaign and marketing objective. Turn to Idea Custom Solutions for superior graphic services, including the vector artwork and embroidery digitizing you’ll need to imprint, embroider and otherwise decorate those products.


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