Swap your plastic brand merch for more sustainable products

Otherwise... It's going to end up in the ocean.

What's the worst brand swag you ever received?

Rugby mouthguard

A stress ball, maybe? An electric alarm clock? How about a keychain mouth guard — like this beauty made for the Rugby World Cup?

Whatever the item, the merch industry is incredibly wasteful. (Just think about how many of those items you’ve donated or tossed away over the years.)

Despite this fact, many brands don’t realise the impact because, to them, this merch serves a purpose, helping them build brand awareness and induce brand loyalty.

But because of the objects themselves, that “brand awareness” lasts all of five minutes — and the usefulness of the item lasts even less. Given all this, what’s the point of creating merch anyway?

Much like the fashion industry, where some brands literally burn clothes in order to maintain brand status, the brand merch world (worth an estimated $24 billion) contributes to our ever-growing waste problem.

When we dump one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute, and throw billions of pounds of textiles into landfills, what's the solution? Does one even exist?

In our experience, there are ways of producing responsible, sustainable, long-lasting gifts for customers rather than thoughtless merch. How exactly? It starts with mindset: by valuing longevity and usefulness to customers over goals like brand loyalty and awareness, you naturally start to consider gifts worth sending. As a result, you find partners who value those same qualities as well. Certain companies prioritise sustainability throughout the entire creation process. For our gifts, we often partner with companies like Everybody World, which uses 100% recycled waste fibers, and Aesop, which champions responsible and minimal packaging for all of their skincare products. In our packaging, we vow to only use recycled materials and recyclable packaging wherever possible.

It’s a small shift, but making these two changes has lasting effects. They allow your brand to produce gifts that have longevity in a customer’s life, something considered and worth keeping. Of course the traditional brand merch route is the fastest and cheapest way to go, but rarely is it the best. Instead care, consideration and a prioritisation of sustainability help ensure gifts will be impactful and benefit everyone involved from the brand, customer and, most importantly, mother nature.

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&Open Jul 03, 2019

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