With the current climate crisis, a lot of pressure is being placed on businesses to become 'eco-friendly', but in reality, what does that mean? Is it merely a box-ticking exercise to say that CSR policy has been followed or is it a societal shift towards a carbon-neutral world? Whilst I'm sure nobody wants to live in a dystopian wasteland of smog and plastic waste, many people don't know how to be eco-friendly or at least not to the level being asked of them, and this is what I'm going to explore in this article.
As a member of the promotional merchandising world, I thought I ought to start with what I know and that is why my first focus is going to be on eco-friendly promotional merchandise and everything the title 'eco-friendly' includes in that field. Now when somebody thinks of something eco-friendly, they may be confused by what that actually means. A blanket description of Eco-friendly is something that is not environmentally harmful and is manufactured in a way that minimises the number of resources required. Now, this description in essence covers the other associated terms such as 'environmentally friendly' or 'green' although green is often thrown around as an unspecific buzzword as it represents anything that benefits the environment or minimizes the impact on the planet. It can involve using recycled materials, using fewer resources, or outfitting products with eco-friendly packaging.
Knowing what eco-friendly means is great but how can we actually be eco-friendly? Now, this is an important question, and it has a multitude of answers. In terms of promotional merchandise, the industry has been rapidly evolving towards eco-friendly products and it is now common to see eco-friendly versions of most products or have products entirely replaced by more environmentally conscious versions. Examples of this can be seen in products like notebooks that use FSC paper. FSC paper is paper that is harvested responsibly and doesn't cause deforestation. FSC paper also often contains recycled paper in order to be as environmentally sensitive as possible.
Other examples of how you can be eco-friendly in your day-to-day life are to use reusable storage such as a bag for life or a refillable travel mug. These products are relatively inexpensive and massively diminish your carbon footprint over a long period of time. These products are also the perfect product for Promotional branding as the long-term usage of the product means that your brand will be advertised for a prolonged period of time making it fit for business as well as the environment. Eco-friendly products are also a brilliant way of proving that your business is environmentally conscious and is trying to make a difference, this can only benefit your business from a PR perspective and it's always a good look for your business to be actively making an effort to confront climate change.
As the previous section mentioned products that can last you years, this paragraph will focus on products that may only last you a few months and how these products can still be environmentally friendly despite their limitations in terms of reusability. Now, these products can be summarised in one word, biodegradable. Biodegradable products are products that can naturally decompose in a short period of time comparative to plastics. these goods have minimal environmental impact during their decomposition. Biodegradable products are an ingenious way of being eco-friendly as they produce little to no long-term waste and are significantly less hazardous to the environment.
One of the more common terms raised when Eco-friendly is mentioned is 'recyclable' and as I am sure most of you know, recyclable refers to converting or 'recycling' a used product into a usable material. Recyclable products are common nowadays and as we shift away from single-use plastics, recyclable goods are becoming more in demand every day. Good examples of recyclable products are paper products such as notepads, most glass products such as bottles, and certain metal products such as tin, aluminium, and steel cans. Recyclable products in certain cases may come at a slightly higher price as the recycling process can often be expensive depending on the material being processed, however, in this day and age, it's becoming increasingly important that both individuals, as well as businesses, choose the product that's better for the climate and not the one that's better for the bank account.
Now that we've looked at the different elements of being eco-friendly, hopefully, next time you're looking to buy products either for yourself or for your business you'll take a moment to see if there are suitable alternatives that are reusable, recyclable or biodegradable to try and save the planet one order at a time.