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Sustainable advertising materials for green startups

Sustainable advertising materials for marketing environmentally friendly startups

Want to know more about how to use sustainable promotional products for your company's own marketing? Then you've come to the right place. Anyone who runs a green startup or is perhaps just in the startup phase will also have to deal with marketing at a certain point. Advertising your own brand and your own name is something that no success-oriented company can do without.

In the article "Green Marketing - How Sustainable Ecomarketing Combines Success and Environmental Protection"I have already explained sustainable marketing and also referred to "green promotional products" in this context. I think that this point deserves even more attention, which is why this article will deal in detail with such environmentally friendly and sustainable promotional products. Let's go!

What makes giveaways fundamentally more sustainable

First, I'd like to briefly outline what's important about giveaways that promote the success of your business through targeted marketing while adding value to people, the environment and our society.

The renunciation of plastic

Although it should hardly need to be mentioned by now, there is of course no getting around this topic: Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to the environment. Time and again, even in Western countries, plastic waste ends up not in the recycling yard but in the seas and oceans. According to estimates there were already a full 86 million tons of plastic in the global oceans in 2018. (more at Plastic waste statistics)

So the last thing a sustainable startup wants to distribute is throwaway plastic items. Avoiding this also makes sense with regard to the demands of potential customers. Because According to a representative survey 63 percent of the population in the EU would welcome an effort by industry and retailers to reduce plastic packaging. It goes without saying that those who completely do without plastic score points twice over.

A good action

In principle, promotional products of any kind can be made even more sustainable by linking them to a good campaign. Away from promotional gifts, consider Krombacher's rainforest project, for example. Since 2002, the brewery has been protecting one square meter of rainforest for every crate of beer sold. This campaign has burned itself into people's minds like hardly any other.

Similar campaigns are also becoming more common in the textile sector. The shoe brand TOMS, for example, donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. Other manufacturers or stores in turn donate, for example, up to the Half of the proceeds from products to the German Red Cross or similar institutions, which in turn promote sustainable projects.

Promotional items, in turn, can become additionally sustainable by promoting such a product or also a sustainable project. For example, an important campaign can be referred to on a free promotional product, which at best can somehow be brought into connection with the company's own startup and thus harmoniously integrated into the advertising concept. At the same time, the company strengthens its own image and shows that sustainability is important to us and that we are happy to point out to others how important this sustainability is for all of us.

High quality and appropriate seals

Fair sustainable promotional products for business
The material of the promotional items must come from fair and truly sustainable sources

Convincing potential customers with supposedly green products, good promotions and a sustainable philosophy may or may not work. Especially when it comes to customers who also value green action, they will look closely. Even the designation "organic" on a promotional item will sometimes have little effect. After all, this says nothing at all about the production conditions behind the finished giveaway. 

That's why, when it comes to developing and sourcing promotional products, startups should only work with vendors that have Communicate completely transparently and where it is clear where the items come from and how they are produced.

Seal, like the FSC seal, the Blue angel or also the Fair Trade Seal show that the products are clearly ecologically sound. In the case of most promotional items, it should be possible to print the corresponding seals on them. On request, it should also be possible to clarify which ingredients are contained in the promotional item.

Of course, the following items should be avoided in the case of sustainable promotional items:

  • Plasticizer
  • Formaldehyde
  • Heavy metals
  • Solvent

For printing, it is best to use water-based ink. Green startups should also save on packaging. The more waste or unusable small parts that have to be recycled or are often simply disposed of in the environment, the less sustainable the product is.

Examples of sustainable advertising materials

Environmentally friendly and fair advertising materials for green startups
The choice of environmentally friendly advertising materials is huge

Sustainable promotional products that you use to advertise your startup should not only be produced sustainably. Customers should also benefit from durable and environmentally friendly use. For example, the idea of doing without plastic cutlery, plastic plates and plastic cups at events where coffee and cake are offered is a good one. It is also better for the environment to use wooden cutlery, paper cups or and bamboo plates instead. However, these also end up in the trash after use and have to go through the recycling cycle. (this is not in the sense of Zero Waste Lifestyle)

That is why green startups advertise best with products that are sometimes even used every day and in the long term by customers. These could be the following sustainable advertising materials, for example:

  • Wooden pen with environmentally friendly ink
  • Notebooks from recycled paper
  • Calendar from recycled paper
  • Blocks from recycled paper
  • USB sticks in wooden frame
  • Bags from organic cotton
  • Different accessories made from 100 % compostable material
  • Coffee mug, which are washable and reusable
  • Lunch boxes from corn starch or rice husks
  • Pocket knife with wooden handle
  • Various other practical things from wood, such as cutting boards, barbecue cutlery, decorative bowls and the like.

Tip: Perhaps it would also be a good idea for you to simply market environmentally friendly products and not just give them out as giveaways. Since your products then respect human rights, protect the environment and do not promote civilization diseases, they advertise in principle for themselves alone. This is not only an opportunity for the environment and society, but especially for the success of your company.

The success of sustainable advertising media requires consistent action

Environment promotional products giveaways CoffeeToGo
Choosing sustainable promotional products makes you stand out from the crowd

Finally, I would like to make it clear once again that sustainable giveaways should not be a free pass for everything that comes after. In other words: If you advertise sustainably, your entire business practice as a startup should also be sustainable and also have a sustainable philosophy. Because sustainable advertising only works through consistency in advertising and action.

You must really mean it. Otherwise, you're just engaging in annoying GreenwashingThis not only scares away customers who find out about it. Of course, greenwashing also means that the actual attitude of the startup is not sustainable and ecologically responsible, but selfish and dishonest.

If you decide to use green, sustainable advertising materials, sustainable changes should also be introduced and measures implemented in the actions of your startup from this point onwards at the latest. The contribution to the environment should not be a figurehead, but a statement. Since not all entrepreneurs have internalized this by far, you can only profit from this attitude.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Here in the Blog for sustainable work I have compiled a lot more tips for you. Look for example in the Articles about sustainable founding inside - have fun!

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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