Guest post by Heidi Thorne
Since I’m known on Twitter for having information on green marketing, my friend “Tradeshow Guy” Tim Patterson asked the question, “Are there items in the promotional giveaway world that are truly ‘green?’ And if not, that’s a story in itself!” It sure would be.
It really comes down to how do YOU define a “green” promotional product? Currently, defining what is green is all over the place. One can call a reusable bag or water bottle green because it would be reused several times and not immediately make its way to a landfill. For the most strict green marketers, a reusable item is a cop out. They might not be happy until the item has been made of plastic derived from organic non-food supply corn grown in the United States in a factory powered by sun or wind that is employee owned and gives 10 percent of its profits to charity.
Because it is so difficult to determine if a giveaway is green, some time back I developed the Green Promo Score Sheet which is available for free download at GreenPromoScoreSheet.com. It helps you assess the “green-ness” of your giveaway based on over a dozen factors such as if it is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, organic, fair trade, etc.
If you do decide to go down the green giveaway path, make sure that you select a giveaway that matches your objectives or purpose. For example, if your company is promoting that you are using alternative energy, don’t give away something that uses standard batteries! You might want to consider a flashlight that uses dynamo power (usually a crank which you turn to provide power) or solar.
When purchasing green promotional products, ask your supplier if he tell you what makes the item green or ecofriendly if specific claims are not made in the offer. Here is an example that I saw at an area business’ expo. They were giving out “natural” canvas tote bags to hold literature. Kudos for using a reusable product. But that may not have been the optimal choice for this event that was touting green products. Here’s why…
A lot of people think that if it’s cotton, it’s natural and therefore organic. Not so! Standard cotton production is not very environmentally friendly. It uses large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and water. Organic cotton production uses non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, manual or natural weeding, and water saving techniques.
Watch for vague words in product descriptions such as natural, ecofriendly, or green. These need to be defined.
The number of green tradeshow giveaway items available is increasing all the time. While labeling standards are still in a state of flux, it pays to find out why a product is green before you spend your green.
About the Author
Heidi Thorne is a promotional products and social media marketing consultant, specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made products. A variety of more ecofriendly promotional products is available at her PromoWithPurposeShop.com shopsite. For more information on how to green up your marketing, visit her blog at PromoWithPurposeToday.com.