It can feel like the idea of branded merchandise and sustainability are diametrically opposed to one another. Can the promotion of consumables be sustainable? Can there be sustainable swag? It can feel like the word sustainable is thrown around a lot and often can be stuck on as a buzzword without actually having the intended impact.
How do we take the idea of sustainable swag from just hitting buzzwords to reality? If done mindfully, businesses can continue to use branded merchandise for marketing and corporate gifting while making a social and environmental impact. At their heart, branding and marketing are about building relationships and sharing values.
At Evo3 Marketing, we are focusing on building sustainability throughout the business. Assessing our social and environmental impact through our purchasing is one of the main ways we are doing that; shifting swag towards sustainably produced products from companies that are mission driven with diverse ownership. These are also the products that tend to leave lasting impressions with those that receive them. With the number of sustainably produced and environmentally friendly products growing each year, this is becoming an easier endeavor. Evo3 Marketing focuses on creating partnerships with companies who share the same values. Often these companies have products that are part of a circular economy.
What is a circular economy?
This is one of those phrases that feels like common knowledge but isn’t always explained fully. A circular economy, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is “an economy that keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible.” It is one that reuses, redesigns, and recaptures waste to create a new product or service giving it a new life cycle. Driving economic activity with environmental benefits, it extends the use of finite resources. Or as defined by the Ellen MacAurthur Foundation as “A circular economy decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment.” This is a sector within our economy that allows for a broad range of impact. It is also one that is growing and gaining attention. According to the World Economic Forum, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has made investments over $1 billion in circular economy projects. As investments and interest in circular economies grow, the number of available products for sustainable swag and branded merchandise will increase.
Partnering and highlighting businesses operating in this space is one of the ways that Evo3 can contribute to sustainability. One of our longest vendor relationships is with a Vancouver based company called ChopValue. The founder of ChopValue identified an opportunity and need within the restaurant space; used chopsticks. After creating and patenting a food safe resin, the company started collecting chopsticks from around Vancouver. With those, they started making cutting boards, cheese boards, coasters, hanging art and more. They also operate their manufacturing business with negative carbon emissions. At the time this post was written, ChopValue had recycled and transformed over 94,592,000 chopsticks and stored over 130,452 kg of carbon. With 12 microfactories located around the world, ChopValue is providing beautiful products that can be customized for the end user. Engraving company logos on cutting boards is one of our favorite corporate gift ideas. It is useful, it tells a story, and it contributes to both economic and environmental sustainability.
Sustainable swag can be more than a buzzword thrown around as a soundbite. Circular economies close resource loops. Businesses are able to take advantage of resources that would otherwise be considered waste, add value and longevity, providing a useful and sustainable product to the end user. By building close relationships with our vendors we are able to steer Evo3 towards sustainability. We are able to provide better products and services for our customers when we have these strong relationships in place. Putting value and mission near the top of our vendor selection process, Evo3 considers sustainability, social and environmental, key to building strong relationships. And hope that it helps our clients build strong relationships with their customers.