Promotional products are a critical part of drumming up and retaining business. Cost-effective and loved by consumers, they’re an easy way to get your name out there and make sure it’s remembered.
Think of a promotional item — what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a reusable water bottle, pen, or even a t-shirt. Made with plastic or petroleum-based polyester, these items, along with many other common branded freebies that serve an important purpose for your business, don’t always align with the greater picture of environmental health.
According to statistics gathered for the UN Environment Program, humans generate 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Apparently, that’s about the collective weight of all humans on this planet — just in case you need a reference for how huge that number is.
Even though most plastic can be recycled, only 9% actually has been since 1950. But wait — we haven’t even begun to talk about textile waste, which WRWCanada estimated to be about 10 million tonnes per year generated by North Americans alone.
The need for less waste and more recycling in our world is non-negotiable at this point, and as a company, you have the perfect opportunity to make and inspire change in a number of ways. One of them is with the products you choose to promote your business.
So what are these world-changing promotional items, you ask? Well, they’re similar to the ones you’d normally give out, just with a slightly different M.O. Below, we’ll walk you through a range of environmentally friendly ideas to give you some inspiration and perhaps even spark a little creativity.
1. Tote Bags
Simple and cost-effective, opt for an eco-friendly fabric like canvas or, if you’re a real eco-superstar, try hemp. You want the material to be sturdy enough that your customers will get some good use out of it. The more uses they get = the better for the environment.
To add your business’ own touch, try ironing on a patch with your logo, consider embroidery, or make a stamp and use vegetable-based ink to keep the bag completely biodegradable.
2. Small Batch Craft Food
Normally give away plastic-wrapped granola bars or treats tucked inside cellophane? Consider a meaningful swap that supports small businesses and tells your customers you care about the earth.
Feel free to dream with this one. If you’re handing out items during the winter holidays, think of tiny glass jars of spiced jam or keep the granola bars but look for a brand that uses biodegradable wrappers.
3. T-Shirts with a mission
Who doesn’t love a soft, comfortable t-shirt? It happens to be that some of the softest tees on earth are made from natural materials (organic cotton, Tencel, bamboo, etc.). If tees fit your brand, they’re a great way to get your name out and have a consumer think about you every time they pull on their favorite shirt.
These days, there are a ton of sustainable t-shirt brands with a mission. Some use recycled materials, some donate a tree for every shirt you buy. Pick a mission that correlates with what your business does, or simply a tee that you’d love to put on everyday yourself.
Now just wait a minute — before you say anything about how pens are made from plastic with toxic ink, this is 2021 and not all of them are. What are they made from then? Try recycled materials, bamboo, cardboard…you name it, they’ve made a pen from it.
To bump up the sustainability of your pick, opt for a design that uses non-toxic ink if possible. Stamp your name on the body of the pen and there you have it, a daily reminder that helps consumers in a pinch and lets them know you care. Bonus if it has a clip they can tuck into somewhere (book, pocket, etc.) for easy access.
5. Reusable Drinkware
When it comes to reusable drinkware, you have some options. You could choose plastic, you could, but there are so many sustainable materials out there that are recycled much more easily and don’t leach toxic chemicals into your customer’s favorite beverage.
It’s little details like this that can make a big difference to your shoppers. Choosing a BPA-free aluminum bottle over a regular, cheap plastic one says that you want them to be safe and healthy, and you also want to make sure you’re making this world a better place.
6. Eco-Friendly Lip Balm
Lip balm is an easy one. Find a brand that uses recycled plastic tubes and an all-natural formula and you have a promotional product that someone will carry around in their pocket or purse and probably look at at least once a day.
Though you won’t be able to get your name on the seeds themselves, you can print, stamp, or sticker it on the outside of the pouch. The cool part about this promo pick is that if your customer does plant the seeds and cares for them, they’ll blossom into a plant they may have for years.
Every time they look at that plant, whether they think of it intentionally or not, your business is associated with something they tend to constantly, linking the joy they get from it to you.
8. Eco Stickers
Whether you opt for biodegradable stickers or ones printed with non-toxic vegetable ink, stickers are a trend that’s always relevant. With the potential to stick around a surface for a very long time, they’re the perfect opportunity to get your name remembered.
9. Reusable Mask
Masks are most likely here to stay, so you may as well do your customers and the earth a favour by handing out reusable ones.
The perfect chance to make your logo a walking advertisement, you’ll get bonus points if you choose a quality mask made from breathable and natural Tencel or organic cotton — don’t forget the comfortable ear loops!
10. Reusable Snack Bags
These are a HUGE trend this year. On the must-have list of any eco-warrior, they’re convenient, packable, and easy to clean. Plus, there are a ton of opportunities for fun prints and your logo in the corner.
The key with any promotional item, eco-friendly or not, is to choose something that you think your customers are going to get some use out of. There’s no point in handing out a t-shirt that’s scratchy — no one’s going to wear it and the money, effort, and resources that went into it are lost.
Giving customers and potential buyers something that relates to your business and will serve a purpose should be your aim. If you didn’t find anything on this list that you felt fit your brand, go ahead and get creative. Really anything that you would normally give away can be found in an environmentally-friendly version. Contact us today to explore what environmentally-friendly promotional products fit your brand the best.