Promotional gifts, also known as corporate gifts or swag, have been a staple of marketing and advertising for decades. These gifts are often given out at events, conferences, or as part of a marketing campaign to promote a company's brand or product.
While promotional gifts can be a great way to increase brand awareness, customer loyalty, and employee well-being, they can also create a significant amount of waste. In this article, we'll explore just how much waste is created from promotional gifts and why it's crucial to source these gifts sustainably.
The Environmental Impact of Promotional Gifts
Promotional gifts come in all shapes and sizes, from branded pens and keychains to tote bags and water bottles. While these items may seem innocuous, the truth is that they can have a significant impact on the environment. For one, producing these items requires using natural resources, such as raw materials, energy, and water. Additionally, the transportation and distribution of these items can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
But perhaps the most significant environmental impact of promotional gifts is the waste they create. Many of these items are made of plastic or other non-biodegradable materials, meaning they will take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down in a landfill. This not only takes up valuable space but also releases harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment. And even if these items are recycled, the process still requires energy and resources, further contributing to the environmental impact.
How Much Waste is Created from Promotional Gifts?
A 2018 study conducted by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) found that 87% of recipients keep promotional items for over a year, and 30% keep them for over four years. This means that even small promotional gifts can have a long-lasting, negative environmental impact.
The study also found that 66% of promotional items are thrown away, with only 18% being passed on to someone else and 16% being kept by the original recipient. This means that the majority of promotional gifts end up in landfills or incinerators, contributing to the global waste problem.
Cheap Corporate Gifts May Reflect Poorly on Your Company
While giving corporate gifts can be a great way to build relationships with clients and employees, going for cheap options can have hidden costs. Cheap gifts may be of low quality, easily break, and may not be useful or appreciated by the recipient. This can lead to negative perceptions of the company and potentially damage the relationship the gift was intended to build.
This Forbes article, Corporate Gifting: Is Being Frugal Costing You, warns that cheap corporate gifts can backfire on the company’s reputation. It is crucial to consider the long-term costs and benefits of corporate gift-giving and invest in gifts that will be well-received and long-lasting.
Sourcing Promotional Gifts Sustainably
Given the significant environmental impact of promotional gifts, it's essential for companies to source these items sustainably. This means choosing gifts that are made from eco-friendly materials, such as recycled plastic, bamboo, or organic cotton. It also means selecting durable and long-lasting gifts, reducing the likelihood of being thrown away.
Another important factor to consider when sourcing promotional gifts is the ethical and social impact of the production process. This means choosing gifts that are made in factories with fair labor practices and that use sustainable production methods. It also means selecting gifts that support local communities or charitable causes.
EarthHero’s Corporate Gifting and How We Source
At EarthHero, we have made corporate and promotional gifting easy, meaningful, and eco-friendly. Our sustainable sourcing methods will ensure your gifts come from responsible companies that use the most sustainable ingredients and materials while paying particular attention to the packaging and end-of-life of the product. Our brands are socially responsible, and with every order, EarthHero provides funding for groups and non-profits that better our planet.
Our corporate gifting team can help you bring meaning and intention to these gifts by brainstorming with you about what matters to your particular employee or client. Sustainable gifts that reflect your company values while acknowledging the recipient's interests will not only be well received, they are more likely to be put to use and avoid the landfill.
Check out our corporate gifting catalog and start gifting sustainably and with intention today!
Promotional gifts can be a great way to promote a company's brand or product, but they can also significantly impact the environment. By choosing gifts that are made from eco-friendly materials, durable, and ethically produced, companies can minimize their environmental impact and support a more sustainable future, all while building affinity with their employees, customers, and clients.