What is Sustainable Swag? (+5 Terms You Need to Know)

Let’s define sustainable swag and then review 5 sustainability terms to help you shop ethically.

3 min read

What is Sustainable Swag? (+5 Terms You Need to Know)

The promotional product industry is evolving and doubling down on sustainability to meet the buying preferences of Gen-Z and eco-conscious businesses. Initiatives like Promo for the Planet from Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) demonstrate a renewed commitment to product design, sourcing, and manufacturing that are good for the environment. 

Sustainable swag is an opportunity for your brand to put its values into action and stand out in a noisy marketplace. As a premier promo product distributor, GoDelta acknowledges our role in encouraging sustainability best practice and takes pride in sourcing sustainable promotional products. 

Let’s define sustainable swag before reviewing five common sustainability terms to help you shop ethically. Understanding these buzzwords will help you make informed decisions when it comes to selecting sustainable promo products for your organization.

Defining Sustainable Swag

Sustainable swag is promotional merchandise made from eco-friendly, low-waste materials that are better for the earth. Sustainability is measured in the environmental impact it takes to manufacture and distribute an item. For instance, traceability programs can quantify how much carbon was emitted during the production and transport of products.

It’s an important trend: 46% of buyers say they have a more favorable opinion of a brand if they receive sustainable swag. 

5 Sustainable Swag Terms To Know

Sometimes, searching for sustainable swag can be challenging. How do you know what’s really sustainable, and what’s just marketing jargon? Here are five terms to look out for to choose the right sustainable swag for your brand. 

1. Natural Materials

Natural materials are sourced from the earth. If something is derived from a plant (think: cotton, silk, bamboo, wool, etc.), then it’s a natural product. These items are biodegradable, easily recyclable, and have a minimal environmental impact. 

Yes, you get the green vote when you go this route. But there are a couple of additional benefits:

  • Apparel made from natural materials is moisture-wicking, breathable, antimicrobial, and less likely to attract and hold dirt. 
  • Natural materials often result in higher-quality products that look and feel better. Items like company-branded merch can rep your business for years, outlasting synthetics that wear out faster.

2. Recycled Materials

When was the last time you bought a cup of coffee and the sleeve didn’t say it was recyclable? Buying recycled and recyclable products is a powerful way for brands to display their commitment to sustainability to customers.

  • Recycled materials are a mainstay in the world of sustainable swag. Here’s why:
  • Recyclable products can be used time and time again, meaning your brand will be seen… well, time and time again. 

These products replace everyday wasteful items, like coffee cups. No more paper cups for people who receive your swag - they’ll be repping your sustainable swag at their local coffee shop instead. 

3. Zero Waste Products

Zero waste is a phrase that means just that: no waste, no carbon, no harm. There are a few companies that are on this journey. Being truly zero waste requires massive investment. That often makes it challenging to find companies that provide truly zero waste swag. 

If you’re passionate about zero waste merchandise, here are the benefits you stand to gain:

  • Zero waste products tend to be more durable, often lasting longer than other types of swag. 
  • Your recipients won’t throw these products out – that’s the whole point of zero waste. Instead, they’ll use them time and time again. 

4. Socially Responsible

Socially responsible swag items illustrate a company’s support for its employees, community, and the world as a whole. Companies that create products in a socially responsible way often align with a specific social cause. Popular causes include eliminating single-use plastics, supporting reforestation, and protecting endangered species. 

The benefits of investing in socially responsible swag include:

  • When people know the products they use were made and shipped ethically, they feel better about using them.
  • Socially responsible swag elevates your brand and the causes you and your people are passionate about. 

5. Sustainably Sourced Cotton

Apparel is the undisputed champion of corporate swag. Cotton is a go-to fabric and a crowd-pleaser for all types of swag apparel. Sustainably sourced cotton sets itself apart in the growing and harvesting practices that minimize the environmental impact of the plant. 

Here are a couple of the benefits that come with opting for sustainably sourced cotton t-shirts in your next swag order:

  • When your team looks great, they are walking, talking billboards for your brand. 
  • There’s a reason top brands are using sustainably sourced cotton. It’s often higher quality, making for comfier apparel for your team. 

Ready to Select Sustainable Swag?

Investing in sustainable swag is a win for everyone: you, your team, and the planet. Not only does sustainable swag build a favorable brand impression among those that receive it, but it’s also just used more frequently.

If you need guidance navigating the sustainable swag market, we’re here to help. We’ll work with you to find eco-friendly swag that’s not only sustainable for the environment, but for your budget, too. Contact us today to speak with a GoDelta Brand Consultant. 

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