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Sustainable Swag

SWAG LIKE A PRO!: 7 helpful tips for responsible corporate gifting

Companies all over the world are trying to create more sustainable swag, but it doesn't need to be a headache.

When it comes to corporate social responsibility, it doesn't really get any more important than doing your bit for the environment.

Whether you're the CEO of an international behemoth or the manager of a corner store, there are always little changes you can make in the name of sustainability. Here are some ideas that will help you find, source and gift swag like a pro!

1. Change the conversation

The world is probably overdue a bit of a mindset shift when it comes to sustainability.

For far too long people have assumed that it's about making sacrifices. That just ain't the case though, because really all you need to do is keep it on your mind while you're making exactly the same business decisions that you've always had to make.

If you had your mind set on a particular type of corporate gift for a client or partner company, giving up on that idea in the name of sustainability isn't the answer. A few minor changes, rather than a sacrifice or major upheaval, can have a much more significant effect than you might initially believe.

2. Please, stop making pens all the time

OK, so we're just going to nip this one in the bud right here. We've got to talk branded pens, people.

Nobody wants them, they're terrible for the environment and they all end up in a landfill. In an age where pens aren't being used anywhere near as much as they used to, surely there is a more appropriate place for you to put your logo?

3. Create stuff people actually want

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can start thinking about what is a good choice to make your sustainable swag. Before you even start thinking about the quality of the product (we'll get to that in a sec), it's always worth considering what people actually need.

Most people aren't going to want a plain t-shirt with a giant logo on it, or a branded water bottle with a cap that doesn't fit. Subtle branding and a more practical approach to what kind of corporate gift you opt for is a much more savvy way to go about it.

Try to think back to your own experience of receiving crappy branded swag. Is there a tacky selfie stick in your attic that has never seen the light of day, or a leaky water bottle that sits guiltily in your press? You're not sure how to recycle it so it stays there taking up space.

4. Use sustainable materials where possible

This ties in with the point about how we all need to change how we see sustainability. Using sustainable materials doesn't mean changing to paper straws, or finding a branded shirt made of recycled bottle caps.

It shouldn't come at the expense of the gift you want to buy, or the quality of the product. You'd be surprised what kind of options there are for sustainable corporate gifts, from repurposed materials to items that are made without harmful processes and chemicals.

One of the best things about sustainability becoming more of a hot topic is that people are getting better and better at reusing materials. There's a good chance you've already received a corporate gift that was made from recycled plastic, but it looked so close to brand-new that it would be impossible to tell.

5. Check the credentials of your suppliers

Another good thing about sustainability becoming more a part of the global psyche? It's a lot harder for irresponsible brands to fool their customers into thinking their offering is in any way environmentally friendly.

Be sure to check out the credentials of who you are thinking of buying your corporate swag from. Customers expect businesses to do the responsible thing with their products, so you can be damn sure brand managers are going to communicate their efforts as clearly as possible.

If their website clearly explains what steps they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint, you're off to a good start. If however you notice a lot of vague terminology and a lack of details, you can be pretty sure they're full of crap.

6. Go beyond the product

Another part of your decision when it comes to finding the right brand has nothing to do with the quality of the product itself. Most swag companies have a huge product catalogue and order from printers.

Rather than your gift being something made purely for your order, all they have to do is print your logo onto a pre-made product. Not only does this mean you are likely getting overcharged for very little work on their part, but this additional processing has a negative impact on the environment.

It has a negative impact on the world in other ways as well, not purely in terms of the environment. The stuff they "make" is mass produced, and quite often done so by people working in terrible conditions in the developing world.

7. Make a difference

Similarly to the last point, this has nothing to do with the quality of the product itself. A lot of brands are heavily involved in initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment, such as carbon offsetting or projects that help the community as a whole.

Keep an eye out for brands that are putting their money where their mouth is, and actually making a difference. Be it a number of trees planted after every order is made on their website or a recent move towards recyclable packaging for all of their products.

It's important to find a brand that reflects your brand's values, as at the end of the day you are choosing to do business with them. Particularly if you are also trying to encourage staff to become more conscious about efforts such as reducing waste or carpooling to the office, it's another example for you to show how serious you are about doing your bit for the environment.

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