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Today, businesses have a responsibility to minimize their negative ecological impact and support sustainable business models. Amidst the increasing desire to uphold our stewardship of the planet, the promotional marketing industry has been critiqued as an upholder of waste and consumerism. This is not a reality that we support or a positive method of executing your sales and marketing strategy. Promotional marketing can and should follow sustainable practices in order to boost the eco-movement and situate your business as a changemaker propelling customer values

If you consider the significance of your sustainability from a financial perspective, the demand for change is undeniable. Sustainability is increasingly becoming a critical consideration for people across generations:

  • The number of searches for “sustainable” increased by 1650% in 2019
  • 63% of global consumers are willing to spend more on sustainable goods – this percentage increases to 73% in Millennials
  • By 2021, sustainably-minded consumers in the US are expected to spend $150 billion on sustainable products

This blog post is the first half of an 8-step guide to help your business become a sustainable leader and garner the benefits of promotional product marketing: lead generation, brand recognition, long-term advertising, cost-effective marketing, and increased employee satisfaction (Learn more in “Building Better Employee Onboarding Kits”!)

  1. Choose sustainably-made products

 The easiest change your business should make to reduce your eco-impact is to choose environmentally-friendly promotional products. Lucky for us, there are so many incredible options available! Important considerations include materials and production. Additionally, in your search, you should choose swag that is made of recycled or biodegradable materials, and that minimizes unnecessary packaging.

This recycled sports duffel is just one example of sustainability meeting practicality:

recycled sports duffel

We would love to guide you in the product selection process! Get in contact by scheduling a call today.

  1. Support eco-friendly brands

When you invest in promotional products, we suggest you consider brands that prioritize the environment. Two of our favourite lines are Ecosmart and Welly!

Ecosmart has a line of over 58 high-quality items that were designed to lessen the impact on the environment and contribute to less waste. This includes everything from reusable straws to umbrellas. At Proforma SI, we are working with our suppliers to commit 1% of the sales from the Ecosmart line to 1% for the Planet to support non-profit organizations that create positive environmental change. Check out my favourite items below:

bamboo fibre cutlery set

Bamboo Fiber Cutlery Set


48” Recycled PET Auto-open Umbrella


Finalstraw 2.0

Welly, on the other hand, is a clean-water-oriented business inspired by the belief that “pure water is essential to pure living.” The founder also credits his mother, who was affectionately called Elly, for instilling him with the altruistic and socially-responsible values that are carried into the business. When you buy Welly products, 3% of sales go to charitable efforts that bring wells and other sustainable clean water solutions to communities worldwide.

  1. Buy less!

 This sounds crazy, we know. It is true that part of the success of promotional products is the mass spread of your name at conferences, but there is a more sustainable and superior approach. We suggest that you invest your promotional product budget into buying select high-quality products, rather than mass volumes of trinkets that won’t last or will be tossed.

It is better to give 100 quality leads exceptional and unique products that will speak well to your brand, than 100,000 individuals broken pens. This makes sense, given that the Advertising Specialty Institute cites quality as the #1 reason why people keep promotional products! What’s more, at the end of the day, decreased waste and limited consumerism is essential to creating a sustainable future.


  1. Give valuable products that people need

 The more useful your branded merchandise, the more times promotional items will be used (increased advertising for you!), and the less likely it will go to waste. From one marketing professional to another, let’s agree NOT to pick (1) products that don’t work, (2) products that are pointless, and (3) products that will be used once and then thrown out. It’s bad for the environment AND your business!

The most valuable products are those that receivers will enjoy using frequently. For example, quality headphones, a reusable grocery/tote bag, or a good pen. Thoughtful selection of high quality and multi-use products will surpass customer expectations and achieve long term potential for your marketing strategy. If you’d like to speak to us about sustainable quality promo products, we’d love to help you.  Schedule a meeting now!

The markets are clear: there is a changing culture whereby waste reduction and sustainability are celebrated, and businesses committed to environmental change are upheld as pillars of the future. Consequently, a sustainable promotional product plan will be critical to your marketing team’s success.

Would you like to learn more about sustainable promo products? Stay tuned for the second part of our eco-series, featuring JIT inventory models, online company stores, luxury brands, and your customer’s eco-friendly journey.

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