Ideas for Green Giveaways

by Jeanette on January 30, 2014

in Green Event Resources Guide, Green Resources, Recycling on the Go

Giving away promotional items are a popular way for companies to get their brand into the hands of attendees. However, this practice can have a significant environmental impact. Don’t be the company whose name appears on give-a-way items that fill the trash cans at our event and risk sending a bad message about your business to attendees!

Ask these questions:

1.     Is a giveaway necessary? Is it an effective way to get our brand out? What are the alternatives?

2.    What is the item made of? Is it made from second hand or post-consumer materials? Is the material organic (like cotton) or recycled (like some polyester products) or naturally compostable (like fruit or seeds)?

3.     Is this item made in the USA or overseas? Is the item locally made in Midwest?

4.     Can this item be easily recycled or composted once it is no longer needed/wanted?

5.      Is the item useful? How long will the recipient want/use this item? How common is the item (will the recipient have too many to care)?

6.     Are the items individually wrapped? Is the packaging recyclable? Can you request that the manufacturer leave off individual wrapping?

Green Giveaways

It’s not a surprise that most green giveaways also indicate a higher quality and thoughtfulness to your brand message. All of our suggestions can be creatively branded:

  • Reusable Shopping Bags – There are MANY different varieties, ranging from packable bags to large canvas bags. While very useful, it is a common giveaway. Make sure yours is durable, functional, and made with eco-friendly material. Try bags made from old banners that include your logo (see Sew Sack Sew below).
  • Reusable Water Bottles – Metal water bottles are preferred over plastic. If it’s plastic, make sure it is BPA free and made from #1 PETE or #2 HDPE plastic, which are both recyclable. Have a water cooler available so people can fill them up and use them right away instead of buying bottled water. Maybe include some information about the benefits of tap water over bottled water. Branded water bottles can promote your business and the green goals of an event – see options at Quality Logo Products, a company based in Aurora, IL.
  • Pens & Pencils – Everyone uses writing implements but often free versions aren’t sturdy nor attractive. Look for options that are good quality and are made with recycled plastic or a unique material like wood. Also consider touch-screen, stylus hybrid pens. Pedro’s Planet has “eco” versions that are biodegradable and recycled.
  • Metro Passes
  • Light Bulbs, energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs)
  • T-Shirts (organic and/or recycled material only)
  • Seed Packets (organic or heirloom)
  • Yearling Trees (natives with instructions for planting)
  • Coupons (printed on recycled paper with low dye and soy ink)
  • Night Lights, energy efficient/LED (See Voss Lighting)
  • Key Chain, from upcycled bicycle parts (See Resource Revival)
  • Posters/Post Cards – attractive, locally printed  (See Fire Cracker Press)
  • Bottle Opener
  • Notebook/Memo Pad, recycled paper or upcycled materials like cereal box covers
  • Commemorative Mug or Cup for a specific event at which your business participates
Attendees of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival who complete the Earth Day Challenge get an eco-friendly prize like fair trade chocolate, CFL bulbs, natural soaps and BPA-free water bottles.

Attendees of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival who complete the Earth Day Challenge get an eco-friendly prize like fair trade chocolate, CFL bulbs, natural soaps and BPA-free water bottles.

Items to AVOID
  • Marti Gras-style beads –  (quickly disposable, not eco-friendly)
  • Mini-frisbees that aren’t functional as frisbees (anything less than 175 gram size)
  • T-shirts made from standard cotton or polyester
  • Plastic goodie bags
  • Candy – (wrappers contaminate the waste stream)
  • Energy or granola bars – (wrappers contaminate the waste stream)
  • Balloons – (quickly become trash or end up in the waterways)
  • Coozies/drink insulators – (overdone, quickly disposable)
  • Rubber bracelets
Recommended Vendors

Pedro’s PlanetEco-friendly office supplies, with an extensive catalog of items that would make great giveaways. Locally-owned and St. Louis community leader.

Resource Revival:  This US-based company makes promotional products and awards from recycled bicycle parts (Oregon USA).

Seed Packets/Garden Supplies:  Peaceful Valley or Seed Savers

Sew Sack Sew:  The St. Louis company makes “upcycled” bags from vinyl banners, supplied by local companies and organizations, like the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The Firecracker PressLocal St. Louis graphic design studio and letterpress printshop that uses computer design software to conceive ideas then carves woodblocks and prints by hand to produce event posters, business cards, party invitations, advertising, and more.

Green Event Toolkit

Read more about Green Giveaways and event planning tips in our Green Event Toolkit.

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