Sustainable branded merchandise – does it even exist?

More and more businesses are looking to source sustainable branded merchandise, and rightly so. We all have a responsibility to protect resources for future generations and reduce our carbon footprint, but do you know what factors to consider when deciding whether products are truly sustainable?

It’s a steep learning curve that every industry is experiencing, including the team at etc. Branding and our global network of suppliers.

As members of the Branded Merchandise Promotional Association (BMPA), we are joining forces with our peers to commit to a StepForward pledge that means we will take proactive steps to improve sustainability within our own business and those of our customers.

Working towards the three pillars of sustainability – profit, people and the planet – begins with education, which is why we always try to have meaningful conversations with our clients about what really constitutes sustainable branded merchandise.

Sourcing environmentally friendly products is about far more than the materials being used. The decision-making process should therefore include everything from where the product is being sourced and how it is being shipped throughout the whole lifecycle to how it is being used, how long for and what happens to it at the end of its lifespan.

Before buying sustainable branded merchandise

Some of the things we look at include:

  1. The materials that the branded merchandise is made from and how those materials are manufactured.
  2. Where in the world the products are made, where they need to be shipped to and how.
  3. How the branded merchandise will then be distributed to the end users.
  4. The product use and how long it will last.
  5. What happens to the product when it’s finished with and whether it can be effectively reused and/or recycled.

For example, an item made from apparent sustainable material becomes far less eco-friendly when it is shipped from the other side of the world, can only be used a handful of times vs hundreds and produces higher levels of chemicals during the recycling process.

In a future blog, we’ll also share some surprising facts about so-called sustainable materials and how they compare to those that are said to be bad for the environment.

Business sustainability

We often find that even though clients want to be sustainable, they have to do so within a budget. It’s certainly a minefield and can be very time-consuming if you take the task on alone, maybe browsing online branded merchandise sites trying to find the right product that will represent your brand as you want it to, achieve a return on investment and still meet your sustainability goals.

The fact remains that finding truly sustainable branded merchandise is yet to be achieved. This is why our aim is to help our clients make informed choices, with a focus on products that have a lower impact on the environment, but a high impact on the consumer, and therefore helping you to achieve your objectives.

Stop trying to strive for perfection and instead be inspired to improve. Think ‘eco-friendlier’ wherever you can.

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