The promotional products industry is a tricky market to be in if you want to stay environmentally friendly. Other methods of marketing like Google Ads or email campaigning is of course much more environmentally friendly, than anything that requirs physical manufacture.
Nobody wants to fill the environment with damaging waste, let alone companies wanting to promote sport and health. It may be particularly sensitive to this given the likely alignment with healthy living and the outdoors.
It is possible to choose sports products which are better for the environment and minimises the carbon footprint. Here are some ideas.
Cotton and Canvass
Canvass is generally made from natural cotton fibre – it used to be made from hemp. Cotton being a natural fibre is ultimately compostable and biodegradable.
Cotton is not great material for creating sporting t-shirts because it holds the moisture and unlike polyester does not allow the wicking characteristics which sports men and woman crave. Canvass is used for other great products though, such as sports bags.
When choosing certain products, it's wise to avoid the neoprene items on environmental grounds. Although neoprene will provide water resistance, so might be a necessity.
Cotton and Towelling
Good towelling is made from 100% cotton and as such is a biodegradable natural fibre. When thinking of promotional products from towelling then obviously there is the sports towel, great for anyone from regular gym goers to footballers - basically anyone who works up a sweat.
The towel shown is embroidered (with cotton thread) and therefore avoids the printing techniques which require inks solvents and the consequential environmental effect.
But towelling is not just towels. The same material is used to make sweatbands and headbands. Again these can be either printed or embroidered with embroidery being the preferred environmental option although it may be more limited than printing.
Plastic Sports Bottles
Arguably any plastic sports bottle is environmentally friendly, since it encourages the re-use of the bottle rather than use disposal cups in the gym or the single use water bottles from the supermarket. The standard bottles are made from polythene which is also recyclable.
This kind of polythene should be recyclable within the standard local authority collections, although recent evidence suggests that the proportion that ends in land fill is still quite high.
There is an alternative option, This bottle is plastic but made from sugar cane – and as such it is biodegradable. A little expensive but the message it sends regarding the brand and responsibility may well be worth it.
The other option is to use a polythene bottle which contains PCR or Post-Consumer Regrind plastic. In other words the bottle is mad from genuine recycled plastic. The level of PCR that can be used may not be 100% of the bottle but is does make a significant statement about a brand’s environmental positioning.
Extra Tips to Stay Environmentally Friendly
First off, limit the amount of products you want to buy. Every salesperson knows that the best way to secure a sale is to provide a personalised, comprehensive pitch. The same method applies with promotional gifts. A quality gift works much better than a cheap low-cost one. Which do you think would work? A vintage leather football or a pen? So, when you look to get promo gifts, buy fewer products for a more dedicated marketing campaign.
Second, choose products that last a long time, not something that will last a matter of weeks before either being lost or forgotten about (like pens); likewise, there are some products that lst minutes (disposabe coffee cups, cupcakes) that mean the carbon footprint is likely too big to leave a lasting effect.
Whilst it's always a good thing to choose environmentally friendly materials in your products, remember that the impact we have on the world around is is not just the materials we use, but how we use them. Make sure you get products that are likely to be used, gitfs that people want to hold onto. The best thing that can be done is that your gift does not end on a landfill somewhere. This does wonders for both your brand and the environment we should all be trying harder to protect.
Share this article
Hear Our Latest News and Get Sporting Updates for Your Next Marketing Campaign
Subscribe and be the first to know about our latest ideas and advice on all thing sport merchandise.