Our industry is all about making an impact and inspiring people to take action. We create products that customers love to use – why not make them with sustainable materials? Some of our long-time favorite household brands are planet-friendly (think Dr. Bronners, Cotopaxi, and Clif Bar) – but there are so many promotional options too!
Plus, the demand for sustainable promo is real. 45% percent of suppliers say distributor clients asked for more environmentally friendly and socially responsible products in 2021.1 And PPAI reports that sustainable product alternatives grew 28% in 2021 & 2022.2 Any interest in persevering the planet is fantastic in our book, and we want to give you a guidebook on important things to consider when more sustainable alternatives:
1. What Audiences do these Products Appeal to?
Every brand can find a way to align sustainable products with the company image. In many cases, if there is no clear pledge to sustainability, choosing earth conscious products may be the first step. You should also consider your target audience and their interest in choosing one product over another. Research shows younger audiences tend to be more receptive to sustainability than their counterparts. 37.6% of Gen Z and millennials have tried sustainable brands vs. 20.2% of older generations.3
2. How Materials of Natural Origin Reduce Trash
We have heard so much about sustainable materials, but it’s not always clear what that means. So, let’s start with the basics. When it comes to sustainable materials, we typically look at products such as bamboo, cotton, jute or kraft paper that are made with natural materials. They tend to be more biodegradable and with minimal processing, are less impactful to the environment. These along with their minimalist color schemes continue to drive trends in promo, retail and just about anywhere else you look.
Some of our personal favorites are made with bamboo and jute. Bamboo-based writing instruments such as our Sophisticate (item MTB) feature a natural look and are perfect for environmentally conscious brands. Our Savannah Cotton/Jute Tote (item UGS) is very eco-chic and durable for years to come.
3. Recycled Materials Provide a Second Life to Wasteful Products
Alongside the natural material options, we look to using products made of recycled or reclaimed materials. Recycled materials keep products from entering landfills and by reimaging them into new products, are decreasing the production of products that can take thousands if not millions of years to decompose. Recycled cotton, aluminum and RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate, a.k.a. water bottles) are popular repurposed materials that reduce the amount of virgin materials used in production.
Items such as our new Reborn Recycled Aluminum Pen (item MTR) has a barrel made of recycled aluminum and accented by a renewable bamboo plunger, gunmetal stainless-steel clip, and clear RPET recycled plastic retainer. Speaking of RPET, we’ve have over 20+ items made from this popular material.
We can look at reclaimed materials such as wheat straw that are taken from post-industrial waste and help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane that are emitted from wheat when disposed of irresponsibly. Wheat straw is typically mixed with plastics, and as it is in our popular Costa Rica Tumbler (item WCQ) can reduce the amount of plastic used by over 50%!
4. Highlight Reusability and Product Lifespan
Unless you want Marie Kondo to feature you on an embarrassing Netflix special, try to stay away from promoting products that are designed for single use only. Choosing the right items that fulfill someone’s everyday needs tend to be the ones that are most impactful. Did you know that 63% of consumers use promotional drinkware and 52% use their writing instruments for at least one year, 43% keep bags for at least two years?4
Items such as our new 2023 Harvest Recycled 8 oz Cotton & Mesh Tote Bag (item UGQ) is durable, reusable, and made with responsibly sourced materials. Equally, our Alpine Glass Bottle (item WDM) is both recyclable and has a top made with sustainable bamboo. It’s items like these that become our favorites because they are “made better” with longevity in mind.
5. The Best Time (and Place) to Share Sustainable Product Ideas
Planet preservation annual celebrations like Earth Day in April have picked up in notoriety. Plus, World Oceans Day in June and Clean Up the World Weekend in September are acknowledged more every year. These awareness initiatives are even more important considering only 40% of waste in the United States is recycled, composted or processed through methods not involving landfilling or incineration.5
Sustainability in promo is truly awe-inspiring movement with six in 10 distributors saying they’d prefer to buy items that are environmentally friendly or socially responsible.6 However, there are industries who enjoy environmentally friendly promo more than others. Retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and veterinary are sited as the top 5 most sustainably focused industries and could be a great place to start your prospecting.7 Don’t wait have to wait for a special day to start your commitment to sustainability – any day is perfect for you and your client.
Here at Goldstar, we’re focused on the use of earth conscious product materials and expanding development of reusable categories such as writing, drinkware and bags that eliminate the need for single-use items. Materials such as recycled plastic, natural bamboo, jute as well as recycled cotton are just a click away. If you are considering sustainable promo, invest in our Made Better Collection.