How to Choose Sustainable Promotional Products

Since it’s spooky season, we want to talk about something we find absolutely terrifying: the impact swag has on the environment.

We get it…promotional marketing can be an industry with a lot of waste, and many swag vendors don’t take accountability for their impact.

But we’d like to think we’re a little different. How?

We make a conscious effort to create a positive impact on not only our clients and local environment, but our industry in general.

It’s an indisputable fact: people love swag. There’s a reason the promotional marketing industry is worth more than $20 billion in the U.S. alone! But despite swag’s popularity, there’s another (much darker) indisputable fact: most promotional items are only kept for around a year before being tossed.

The environmental impact of easily discarded promotional marketing items is massive, and we consider it our civic duty to curb that impact wherever possible. In the 12 years since In the Bag’s inception, we’ve nailed down the most ethical ways to gift swag—without pumping out low-quality, unattractive, or useless junk destined to wind up in a landfill.

Here are our best tips for choosing items your recipients will actually use and want to keep for the long term.

First, we recommend finding a promotional marketing agency who makes a commitment to quality. Swag certainly isn’t difficult to come by, but there’s a vast difference between companies that sell mass-produced rubbish intended to be thrown away and agencies selling products from ethical sources that are designed to last.

Not sure how to find an ethical supplier? Ask them the following discovery questions—and really listen to their answers.

1. Where are these products sourced from?

2. Does the company that distributes these items use any harmful or exploitative business practices?

3. What’s their shipping process like?

4. How are these products made?

5. Does the company do anything to limit their environmental impact or curb their carbon footprint?

6. Are these products desirable, and do your other clients find that this particular product gets used regularly?

Any ethical promotional marketing agency should be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction—and we can prove it.