The Most Sustainable Promotional Products of 2023 Are:

What are Sustainable Promotional Products, and Why Should You Care?

As businesses become more conscious of their environmental impact, the demand for eco-friendly promotional products is rising. Organizations now understand the importance of choosing corporate gifts and giveaways produced responsibly to ensure they don't harm the planet or its inhabitants. By selecting eco promotional products, businesses can demonstrate to their customers that they care about our environment and take responsibility for their actions.


Why should you use eco friendly branded merchandise?

Switching to eco-friendly swag can be a powerful way to decrease environmental harm. These products are often made from recycled or repurposed materials and locally sourced and biodegradable products. Using eco-friendly swag can help reduce waste, lower carbon footprint, and better manage our natural resources. In addition, eco-friendly products can enhance a company's brand reputation by showcasing a dedication to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. By opting for eco-friendly swag instead of non-recyclable or plastic products, companies can show their commitment to protecting our environment. 

Where to use eco-friendly promotional items

These products can be used in various ways and for different purposes, making them versatile and practical for almost any business. For starters, they can be excellent trade show giveaways to attract people to your booth and create a positive impression or as prizes for golf tournaments and silent auctions. Eco-friendly promotional products can also be given as employee recognition items, corporate gifting, or incentives and rewards for achieving specific goals. Non-profit fundraising events, safety programs, and social marketing campaigns can benefit from these products. They are also perfect for customer acquisition and as brand builders, helping businesses to project an eco-friendly image and increase their visibility. In short, eco-friendly promotional products can be used in many ways, and they are a must-have for anyone looking to engage in green marketing.

added six figures in sales but also started a movement- the leap towards sustainable marketing.

Small Business Promotion

Changed behavior & reduced CO2 emissions measurably in a pilot project

Social Change Promotion

Simple but very effective promotion

Civic Action Promotion

What makes a promotional product sustainable?

A sustainable promotional product has a positive impact on our environment and society. Manufacturers use eco-friendly materials and processes to create sustainable products, reduce waste and energy consumption, and ensure they can be recycled or disposed of responsibly. Sustainable promotional products can include apparel made from sustainable natural fibres, tote bags made from sustainable materials such as bamboo fiber, drinkware made from corn cellulose, and notepads made from recycled materials or stone.

When choosing sustainable promotional products, it is crucial to consider the entire product lifecycle, from production to disposal.  At Do Better Marketing, we review products and merch based on five criteria: freight distance, materials, packaging, life cycle, and whether the product meets the supplier's claims. This ensures when we recommend a product, that recommendation makes a positive impression on your brand and our planet.

The most sustainable and eco-friendly promotional product is...

The most sustainable product to promote your brand is not a biodegradable product or one made from recycled material. The pinnacle of eco-friendly promotional items is not even a product.

The most environmentally conscious giveaway is one that is never given because it was never wasted on someone who didn't take action to receive it. The most sustainable promotional product is a plan!

Let me clarify:

Let's say you have an upcoming trade show. You order 500 environmentally friendly promotional products branded with your company logo and use them to attract visitors to your booth. Attendees flock like crows to pick up your shiny thing.

They thank you, and you think it was a success because so many people were attracted to your booth. but you never see or hear from them again.

Besides the fact that it wastes money and resources, there are two very problems with this common strategy that wastes your money and produces enormous amounts of physical waste. Here are the two common problems and how to solve them:

Problem #1 -Only some people are your prospects.

If you give away swag to everyone who comes to your booth because they want your swag, you are wasting money and resources.

Not everyone who comes to your trade show booth needs or desires your products or services, so why waste money and resources on them? 

It's better to make the receipt of promotional merchandise contingent upon a measurable action that moves you closer to your goal, the reason you are exhibiting in the first place. This could be to signup for your list, show genuine interest in your offer, or digitally download your catalogue or brochure.

When was the last time a logo got you to pick up the phone?

Your logo doesn't tell your target audience what you want them to do. As a result, your product may be used, but the only advertising it will do is remind them of your logo. Unless you have spent millions on brand awareness, your logo tells the recipient very little about who you are, what you do, and why they should choose you. At the very least, print your website URL, a call to action or a dynamic QR code to keep them engaged in your brand story until they are ready to take action.

 A well-thought-out and executed promotional marketing strategy will positively impact brand awareness and reduce waste in your budget and for our planet, ultimately saving you money!

Now that you have a promotional marketing plan, it's time to pick greener swag options:

I can feel you getting greener already.

Planting Trees is the ultimate eco-friendly swag for those dedicated to protecting the planet.

Purchase trees and give them to prospects who join your list at a trade show,  as speaker gifts, with every order of a certain amount, or as employee motivational gifts. Our trees are planted, bar-coded, and a code is given to your recipients. They can then use the code to dedicate their tree(s) to anyone they wish to in our virtual forest.

Reused or Repurposed Product Ideas

Reused or repurposed product ideas are becoming increasingly popular among eco-conscious businesses. These products are given a second life as promotional items while reducing landfill waste. Brandable tote bags and backpacks from used vinyl banners are examples of a product that can be repurposed for promotional use. These bags are perfect for businesses that want to promote their brand while demonstrating their commitment to sustainability. Another excellent example of a repurposed product idea is coasters made from old vinyl records. These unique coasters serve a practical purpose while protecting furniture from scratches and stains and encouraging businesses to think creatively about how to reuse materials in innovative ways. Repurposing products for promotional use is a bright and sustainable way to make an impact while reducing waste.

Rather than throwing away unused branded items they have received, encourage customers to reuse them differently creatively. For example, t-shirts or tote bags can be cut and sewn into reusable produce bags. Repurpose pens, highlighters, and other writing instruments into plant labels for your office or garden. Use sticky as bookmarks or fridge magnets: Repurpose water bottles and travel mugs to DIY planters. They'll love you for the ideas, and that will keep you top-of-mind.

We offer a wide range of eco-friendly promotional product ideas.


Contact Us for Ideas or a Quote
Bags Made From Used Event Banners

Upcycled Banner Bags

are from up cycling bicycle tire tubes

Upcycled Bicycle Tire Bags

Plant your pencil end and watch it grow

Sprout Plantable Pencils

A wide range of promo products made from materials such as bamboo, hemp, wheat straw, corn cellulose, or organic cotton

Ethically sourced eco-friendly promotional products made from renewable resources or organic or sustainable materials offer consumers the opportunity to positively impact our environment and support fair labour practices. Ethically sourced t-shirts are becoming increasingly popular. They are manufactured under fair labour conditions and made using responsibly grown and harvested materials. Organic cotton tees are a great example of this, as they are grown without harmful chemicals and pesticides, reducing the environmental impact and supporting a healthier ecosystem. Bamboo apparel is also a sustainable option, as it is a fast-growing and renewable resource. Our supply chain offers many valuable and functional eco-friendly hard goods made from corn cellulose, wheat straw, bamboo fibre, and stone paper.

Reach out with information on your next promotion, and we'll help you make it as sustainable as possible.

Recycled Promotional Items

These products are made from recycled materials, including recycled tires, recycled water bottles, and recycled newsprint. Not only do these materials divert waste from landfills, but they also use less energy and resources to produce than virgin materials. Recycled products come in all shapes and sizes made from materials such as mouse pads made from recycled tires, pencils made from newsprint, bags from bicycle tire tubes, and a wide selection of caps and apparel made from recycled pop bottles,

Digitally Printed Apparel, Headwear and Uniforms

Digitally printed t-shirts are becoming increasingly popular as they provide customers with a full range of previously difficult-to-reproduce graphics. The best part is that there are no minimums, which means you can order as little or as much as you want. Print-to-order ensures that there is no overproduction, which ultimately means less waste. Digitally printed allows for full color reproduction of any image on almost any fabric while using fewer chemicals, which minimizes the impact on our environment.

Tech-enabled apparel

In today's digital age, tech-enabled apparel is gaining tremendous momentum. Tech-enabled garments like t-shirts can be embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) and printed QR codes, leading to dynamic content that interacts with the wearer's mobile device. The tech-enabled smart clothing allows customers to access various features like discounts, product information, special promotions, loyalty rewards, or launch a paper-saving app like SimpleLeads™. While wearing this apparel, customers can feel new depths of engagement and experience an interactive and personalized experience. Ultimately, Tech-enabled apparel is an excellent marketing strategy for companies looking to step up and bring innovation to their products that positively impact our environment.

Locally Sourced Promotional Products & Apparel

With labour and environmental standards not equal and the fact that freight is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gases, the closer your supplier is, the better.

Reusable Promotional Products

Single-use items and useless gimmicky plastic swag have got to go. Reusable items are a better choice; however, creating them can be resource intensive as they often require higher-quality materials and manufacturing processes. For this reason, they are at the bottom of our list of sustainable options.

Reusable items include metal staws and drinkware made from materials like recyclable aluminum or organic promotional tote bags made from natural fibres like hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton.

How to Find the Most Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Suppliers

When searching for eco-friendly swag suppliers, avoiding greenwashing is vital. Ensure your supplier is committed and has a genuine green reputation, not just jumping on the green bandwagon for profit alone. Before purchasing, ask tough questions about their production process, materials, and disposal methods. It's also essential to ask for product certifications, such as FSC certification for paper products and WRAP certification for textiles. A reputable supplier should be fine providing this information to their customer.

Look for suppliers prioritizing repurposed, reusable, recycled, and biodegradable materials and offering carbon offsetting programs. Choosing a supplier that values sustainability and eco-friendliness ensures that your eco-friendly gifts align with your values and contribute to a healthier planet. If that supplier can also help you draft a winning promotional marketing strategy, you've found a genuinely sustainable partner.

Tell us how we can help you Do Better Marketing for our planet and your bottom line.

About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back, make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted a couple of great customers for life. David has been personally recognized with seven national marketing awards.