Greenwashing in the Promotional Products Industry

Greenwashing in the Promotional Products Industry


Have you recently wondered if the branded merchandise you’re being advertised is actually sustainable? Chances are, it’s not really. Your intuition peaked for a reason. 


We constantly receive flyers from vendors within the promotional products industry who advertise sustainable goods that aren’t at all sustainable. Vegan leather is not environmentally friendly. Vegan leather is actually PVC, and there is nothing natural about it. It is created from oil and chlorine. It won’t break down. So, by sustainable, they mean “sustains forever.” But, is that what you thought it meant?


We internally have a standard from which we base our corporate gift recommendations and products listed on our site. Our internal dialog really centers around what is best for the environment and what shifts can we make in the buying habits of our clients. Our clients often have some goal, and combined with their expertise, they have opinions on what corporate gifts will leave a lasting impression on their teams or clients. And, we want to respect this at all times. We also want to help our clients in their purchases because impressing people and environmental responsibility is what we do best.


Our clients have big jobs. They often tell me their job is to “herd cats.” Researching product trends and the environmental impact of the materials used to make promotional products is our expertise and our clients have learned to rely on this.


It’s really hard to tell if something is truly environmentally friendly.


Here are a few tips:


1. Plastics other than PET (they have a number 1 somewhere on them) and HDPE (number 2) are challenging, if even possible, to recycle.


2. Look for “industrially compostable” on “green” products. These are not compostable themselves unless chemically treated in an industrial composting center.


3. Shirts that are donated will not be recycled into new shirts, but mostly get turned into other textiles. Water based inks, post-recycled fleece and organic cotton are the most environmentally friendly options.


4. FSC certified paper means that the Forestry Steward Council has determined the manufactures have harvested trees in a sustainable manner.


Here are some of the FSC products we carry:

    5. Items created within the US or North America have fewer miles to travel, and thus are more environmentally friendly just based on the carbon footprint of shipping. We have a whole collection of products made in the USA. Here are some popular ones:



                  We strive to do our best to provide products that are made from sustainable materials, made in an ethical way, and sourced from companies that support social causes. We’re not perfect, but we’re aware and on a journey to becoming a more responsible company.


                  For more help, or to automate your decisions by trusting us as your partner, reach out to our team at

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