Once upon a time, sustainability was the cool optional extra marketers either had a choice to include, or not. These days, thinking and acting sustainably – for any brand – is essential, and that includes choosing sustainable promotional products in any campaign you do.
Just take a look at the stats: research shows that 90 percent of consumers are likely to purchase sustainable products – and they want brands to be more transparent about it too. Secondly, the Advertising Specialty Institute found 46 percent of consumers looked more favourably on a brand if the promo product they received was environmentally friendly.
The great news is, there are some drop-dead gorgeous sustainable and ethical products out there – and our guide has everything you need to know.
It’s a good question – and one that means different things to different companies!
But at the heart of it, sustainability refers to the full commercial cycle of a product – from the extraction of the raw materials to the final disposal of that product. A sustainable product might be made from natural, raw materials, reusable materials or recycled plastics.
According to the Sustainable Products Corporation, sustainable products “provide environmental, social, and economic benefits while protecting public health, welfare, and environment over their full commercial cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to final disposal.”
Sustainable promotional products can be made from all-natural materials, but they also make it easier for recipients to have a positive impact on the environment by reducing waste and recycling. Plus, sustainable items can be branded with your company logo, just like any other promotional products!
Environmentally-friendly products may fall into a number of different categories. Here are some of the most common.
- Recycled fabrics Think recycled cotton or products made from recycled PET bottles
- Natural materials Products may be made from straw, hemp, bamboo and are biodegradable
- Re-usable items Includes keep cups, metal straws, veggie bags and shopping totes that help reduce the single-use plastics
- Giveback items – Products that support a cause, non-profit or community
- Sustainably made – it’s about both the product and importantly, the manufacturing policies, and the fact that the factories are safe and ethical in their production standards.
10 sustainable promotional products we love
We polled the Spark Up team about their favourite sustainable picks, and trust us, it was hard to whittle it down to just ten. These products are available from suppliers we work with, and others are products we can source for you.
As a company, Prodir Pens place huge importance on being Swiss-made and sustainable. They’re produced in Switzerland because it’s where ‘innovation and sustainability can be implemented faster, better and more effectively’. Can’t argue with that! Apart from being lovely to use, Prodir pens also eco-friendly, with all external components of the Prodir plastic pens made from recycled plastic. This reduces their environmental impact and that of your brand. Get scribblin’!
We’re huge fans of AS Colour, not least because the brand’s clothing is sustainably made and ethically sourced. The company goes further than just creating an organic, sustainable product line, though – they’re big on social responsibility, too, choosing factories which share their ethics and values, and supporting initiatives like Better Cotton Initiative and Reemi. AS Colour have also completely removed plastic from their supply chain. What’s not to love?
Our copywriter, Rach, swears by Corban & Blair products – and we love this brand for both its sustainable policies and its desire to give back to the community. Corban & Blair are collaborating with Welcome to Country to create gift solutions which value Indigenous talent, stories and culture – from selling the work of Indigenous collaborations, to creating bespoke, meaningful items for corporate clients. Just check out this gorgeous recycled leather journal.
One durable, reusable metal straw can eliminate the need for hundreds of plastic ones, and they’re a product your customers are likely to keep and use over and over. Choosing a stainless steel straw kit as a promotional item shows commitment to reducing the need for single-use plastics and it can also make a real statement to your customers. We love this set of three reusable stainless steel straws. It includes a smoothie straw, angled straw, a straight straw and a cleaning brush, and it’s beautifully packaged in a cotton drawstring bag that’s perfect for branding with your logo.
If there’s one trend the pandemic brought us that we’re not keen to let go of, it’s the humble picnic. And those with the right accessories are always going to be the envy of their fellow picnickers, right? That’s where this lightweight bamboo folding table comes in. It’s perfect for two, with slots for your wine glasses and a table top perfect for a small cheese board. The bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and it even includes 2 bamboo knives stored with hidden magnets. It offers great branding opportunities, too.
Whether you’re on a hike or at the gym, there’s no doubt sipping out of a glass water bottle is much nicer than a plastic one. And these 600ml Eden glass bottles get our vote – the lid is made from sustainable bamboo and the bottle is crafted from borosilicatre, a lightweight, exceptionally-strong glass that’s shatter-resistant and ensures a clean, pure taste. You have the option of branding the bottle or the optional gift tube they come packaged in.
A a sturdy and sustainable laptop sleeve that’ll protect an expensive gadget from bumps and knocks is a gift anyone would appreciate – and our vote goes to the user-friendly range from &Stuff. This company’s eco-friendly, durable 15” laptop sleeve is made from 100 percent natural unbleached calico cotton, which is washable and reusable. It’s also easy to have a logo printed or debossed onto the sleeve or the leatherette badge.
Anyone who’s fronting up to an office every day knows how much cheaper it is to pack your lunch rather than relying on food courts. But getting the right lunchbox can be a challenge. That’s where this stylish, functional stainless steel lunchbox with a bamboo lid comes in. It’s small enough for a work bag, includes an elastic woven strap to secure the lid – and the strap also holds a bamboo knife, fork and spoon so you’re not stuck hunting for cutlery. Pop a discreet logo on, and you have a daily lunch time reminder of your brand in your customers hands!
Having a dedicated charging area for your phone is an office desk essential – like this eco-friendly bamboo wireless charging stand. It’s compatible with devices that are enabled for wireless charging, and to get it to work you simply plug it into any USB port or mains adaptor. Place a compatible device on it for convenient, wireless charging and away you go. It’s easy to assemble and use, and a permanent fixture on your customers desk with your logo. Super handy!
We’re popping these in as great options for your next conference. One of the most popular items we get on order for conferences are tote bags, and this one is unbleached cotton. Brand it with your logo and it makes a strong sustainable statement to your customers and clients. The other promo product you can brand for conferences, expos and other events is the bamboo lanyard – available in many colours and includes a metal clip and safety clip.
But don’t forget the packaging
At Spark Up, the team is committed to reducing their carbon footprint – which means all our gift boxes are made from recycled cartons and we use honeycomb paper kraft wrap instead of bubble wrap.
We’re also now using GECA satchels for all our deliveries, too. This best-in-class mailer is the only one of its type in Australia, and the only GECA 100 percent post-consumer waste (PCW) plastic mailer satchel in the world. It’s certified and approved by RedCycle and currently used by the likes of Kathmandu, Quiksilver, JB Hi-Fi and The Iconic. And while it’s already made of recycled material, you can actually recycle it AGAIN through the RedCycle soft plastics recycling scheme found at every Coles and Woolworths.