SWAG LIKE A PRO!: 7 helpful tips for responsible corporate giftingby Jamie Concannon
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 isn'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.
There is one thing that can make a HUGE difference - select sustainable brands for your business. No matter where you're at in your career journey, you can influence how your business purchases.
Most businesses use the same suppliers year in, year out. People are extremely busy and finding new suppliers can seem like a headache. However, by changing just one of your suppliers to a more eco-friendly alternative, the impact you can make is huge. It's one change that continues to give back, year after year.
You also feel great afterwards.
Businesses have a huge role to play in the climate change battle - every person in every business has a role to play in this.
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.
Good, well-made pens are useful. But so many pens are mass-produced trash that only end ever up in landfill, without every writing a single word.
We're not saying never get pens but there are other places to put your brand, so consider your options!
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 your giant logo on it, or a branded water bottle with a leaky cap that doesn't fit with your name splashed all over it. Subtle branding on quality products that people will love and use 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 cheap 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 for employees, 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 materials.
5. Check the credentials of your suppliers
See point 1 about changing the conversation. Do business with brands that care about sustainability, but don't be hoodwinked! Sure, it's a lot harder for irresponsible brands to fool their customers into thinking their offering is environmentally-friendly if it isn't. But 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/social media clearly explains what steps they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint, you're off to a good start. But what initiatives are they doing to off-set or reduce their carbon footprint?
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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