Several years ago, I was walking down the beach and saw tons of plastic. Being so close to the water – it caught my eye and I realized – all of this ends up in our ocean. From when I was a kid until now, I can see the dramatic climate changes that have impacted our world and threaten the safety of others. From these experiences, I have chosen to make carbon-neutral choices in my personal life. But it was harder to do so professionally, at least initially. Over the last 24 years of my career in promotional products, the industry has adapted. It’s part of what makes me more dedicated to putting these sustainable products into customers, hands.
Preferences Meet Demand
Evolving end-users’ preferences have dictated the trajectory of the promotional product industry, and thankfully so! For so long, companies were aware of mounting environmental issues, however, they didn’t act. Now that gap is closing. Millennials are the largest generation of the population and are two times as likely as baby boomers to change their habits to reduce environmental impact. More importantly, Gen Z will soon be the most dominant generation. A survey by UniDays found that 93% of Gen Z members believe that brands have an obligation to take a stand and make a difference in the fight against climate change. Forbes estimates Gen Z’s buying power to be more than $140 billion. Finally, this ideology is something brands simply cannot afford to ignore.
How the Promo Industry is Responding
I’ve heard much about vendors, like S&S Activewear, who completed the installation of solar panels at its U.S. facilities, covering about 3.5 million square feet. Or the K.G. Factor (Keep it. Give it.) at Koozie Group. They had an impartial research group conduct an end-user study, 4 out of 5 users identified over 500 items at Koozie Group that they would keep or give. Meaning these items will not end up in a landfill.
Recently, our team traveled to Chicago, for one of the largest vendor tradeshows. Walking through the aisles, I could see first-hand how the industry is shifting. I noticed more companies have giving back programs, are sustainably made, or even made with recycled materials. Here are a few vendors that stood out:
Denik – Gives back
When you buy a journal by Denik, you’re supporting a movement. The artwork is sourced from artists who are properly paid and cited – no starving artists here. Also, a portion of the proceeds gets set aside to fund the building of a school in Mali, Africa.
Hexa Custom – Sustainably Made
At Hexa Custom they feel sustainability is their responsibility. From the zipper choice to the imprint options offered, you can tell sustainability is a part of their DNA. Here are a few of their accolades, a testament to their upstanding environmental practices: ISO 9000 Quality Management Certification, ISO 1400 Environmental Certification, and Responsible Down Standard Certification.
allMade – Recycled
A single shirt from allMade prevents an equivalent of up to 6 plastic bottles from going into the ocean. Since 2016, 22 M plastic bottles have been diverted from ending up in a landfill or an ocean. 50% of every shirt is made with recycled plastic water bottles. The remaining 50% is made of sustainable products – keeping this shirt so soft both to the touch and environmentally.
These companies are just the tip of the iceberg. With all the new offerings available and with GACO’s dedication to sourcing high-quality products we can help you find items that meet your specifications. If we all make small changes, we together can move things in a positive direction.