Sustainable Swag: Why It's a Smart Choice for Your Business

The pressure is mounting on businesses to demonstrate their commitment to addressing environmental and social issues. However, in today's flooded market, it's challenging to identify real solutions from pure greenwashing. Read this article to discover why eco-friendly swag is a clever choice for your company and what to consider when looking for sustainable swag.

What are the benefits of sustainable swag for my business?

Integrating sustainability into your company's values and practices can be a significant win. It helps you attract customers who prioritise these values and create a clear brand image that aligns with what customers and the world ask for. Additionally, choosing sustainable swag for your business can also have a positive impact on the environment. By avoiding cheap, unsustainable merchandise, you reduce the amount of waste in landfills and contribute to climate change. This sends a message to your customers and the industry that your business is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and being a responsible corporate citizen.

The environmental and social benefits

Sustainable swag can significantly reduce your carbon footprint while positively impacting those in the origin countries, from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing the final product.

However, nothing is perfect, and so far, we haven't found any magic formulas. Everything comes with a list of "good" and "not-so-good." At Mosssy, we believe that education should be the key to driving sustainability, and greenwashing is definitely not our thing. So, we took some time to put a list of the most common material out there for you to be informed enough to make a mindful decision.

Three commonly used sustainable materials for swag

1- Hemp

Hemp is an old, well-known super plant experiencing an exciting comeback. Demonised by society due to its not-so-sober cousin, marijuana, hemp was one of the first cultivated crops. Mesopotamians were adding hemp core into pottery, and China has been growing it for over 6,000 years, using it to create the first forms of paper.

Four images with the text "Eco-friendly swag ideas; Natural Hemp Fabric" on the centre. A hemp fabric lunch box,  a hemp rolled fabric with a hemp leave on it, a hemp tote bag, and two hemp beach mats.

The good:
  • Sustainability: Hemp is a sustainable crop that requires less than a third of the water needed for cotton and yields 220% more fibre.
  • Durability: Hemp fibres are stronger and more durable than cotton fibres, and despite the general belief, recent developments made it possible for hemp fibres to be made softer.
  • Versatility: Hemp is super versatile; it can be used to make a variety of products which makes it a great material for all kinds of swag, t-shirts, hoodies, caps, bucket hats, etc.
  • Positive environmental impact: Hemp positively impacts the environment, as it absorbs carbon dioxide and improves soil health. In addition, almost all varieties of hemp are naturally resistant to insects and predators, making pesticides and herbicides not needed here, transforming these crops into havens for pollinators as well as small birds and animals.
The not-so-good:
  • Legal restrictions: Hemp has been illegal in many countries for years, and it's only recently that some governments have lifted restrictions. But finding and purchasing hemp products in some places is still challenging.
  • Processing challenges: Hemp fibres are difficult to process, making it more expensive to produce hemp products than products made from other materials.
  • Stigma: Hemp is often associated with marijuana, and while hemp is not a psychoactive plant, some citizens still don't know the difference between industrial hemp and cannabis.

2- Recycled polyester ( rPET )

Despite being a form of plastic, polyester is a versatile, durable, and moisture-wicking material that can be blended with other fibres to create different textures and properties. Recycled polyester is a brilliant way of diverting plastic from our landfills and wearing polyester without the guilt of adding more plastic to an already saturated system.

Four images with the text "Eco-friendly swag ideas; Fabrics made from recycled water bottles" on the centre. A collage of water bottles, and water bottle fibres in different stages of the process. A water repellent recycled water bottle fabric. A recycled water bottle grey hoodie. A recycled water bottle blue, red and grey notebooks.

The good:
  • Waste reduction: It's made from post-consumer plastic waste, giving a second life to a material that's not biodegradable and would otherwise end up in a landfill. It gives you the power to transform waste into a breathable t-shirt with your company's logo.
  • Energy efficient: While being almost the same quality as virgin polyester, recycled polyester requires 59 per cent less energy, according to a 2017 study by the Swiss Federal Office for the environment.
  • Global impact: Since approx 60% of the world's PET production is polyester, creating a non-virgin supply could massively impact the world due to the reduced energy and resource requirements.
The not-so-good:
  • Limited recyclability: Polyester is usually mixed with other fibres like cotton, which makes it really difficult, if not impossible, to recycle. Even when recycling 100% polyester clothes, the quality of polyester degrades with each cycle and cannot be recycled forever.
  • Environment impact: rPET is imperfect and has issues like batch-to-batch colour inconsistency. This requires bleaching and re-dyeing, both processes that need water, energy and chemicals, leaving an environmental impact.
  • Microplastics: A well-known and significant problem of virgin and recycled polyester is microplastics. According to the British Plymouth University, each time we do laundry, more than 700.000 plastic fibres can be released into the environment.

3- Bamboo

Bamboo is a well-known fast-growing, renewable resource that has gained popularity as a sustainable alternative to traditional materials, but yes, you guessed it, there are things you need to consider before deciding if bamboo is the best choice for your next swag.

Four images with the text "Eco-friendly swag ideas; Bamboo" on the centre. A closeup of bamboo plants. A bamboo toothbrush and a bamboo straw with a straw cleaner. A hand leaving a bamboo toothbrush on a bamboo toothbrush holder. A set of different bamboo cups next to a bamboo fabric bag for the cups.

The good:
  • Renewable and sustainable: Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can be harvested without killing the plant. It also requires less water, no fertilisers, no pesticides, and it can regenerate from its roots. Looking good!
  • Biodegradable: Not all bamboo products are made the same, but the good news is that despite the time that might vary, bamboo products are biodegradable.
  • Versatile: Bamboo can be used for a wide range of products. When it comes to swag, the best-known products are clothing or toothbrushes. Consider that some toothbrush bristles might be made of plastic. There are some alternatives, like horsehair bristles from horsehair that are harvested without harming the animals, which is a biodegradable material.
The not-so-good:
  • Processing: When it comes to bamboo fabric, to create what is known as bamboo viscose, also known as bamboo rayon, heavy chemicals are needed during the process. Luckily alternatives like bamboo Lyocell use solvents like natural enzymes in a close loop, which results in a cleaner fabric that maintains all benefits. It is still biodegradable and does it quicker than bamboo viscose.
  • Transportation: Bamboo is often grown in Asia. In fact, China is the only country where it's grown on a commercial scale. If you still think it is worth using bamboo after adding the transportation CO2 to your calculations ( without following into a carbon offset scam ), go ahead; this is a truly unique material.
  • Land use: As bamboo grows in popularity, there are concerns about land use and its impact on local ecosystems and communities.

How do I Choose the Right Sustainable Swag for my Business?

Now that you know a thing or two about materials is time to think about choosing the right products for your brand. Here is a list of things to consider to make a mindful decision;

Consider Your Brand Values

When choosing your swag, think about the values that your brand represents. Are you committed to reducing waste? Do you prioritise fair labour practices? Or is animal welfare your main priority? Look for products that align with you, and they'll transmit that message to your team and customers.

Choose High-Quality Products

Sustainable swag is an investment in your brand and the environment, so choose high-quality products that will last. There's no point in selecting sustainable materials if your new cheap swag must be replaced every few months. Remember, reducing waste in all its forms is the best thing you can do to support the sustainability movement.

Research Materials and Suppliers

As we mentioned earlier, not all sustainable materials are created equal, do your research, ask a million questions that will challenge your providers and be that annoying type of client we love!

The verdict

Sustainable swag is an intelligent choice when made and tailored to your company's needs and values. It can become a meaningful vehicle to connect with your team and create a cohesive brand image while positively impacting the planet.

At Mosssy, we want to empower your company and help you make a mindful decision, so we curate our creators, selecting those that have a thing for sustainability. We focus on real-life solutions over the"too-perfect-to-be-true"ones. If our article is not enough, or you have a particular request for your next sustainable solution, we can't wait to hear from you!