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What Are Eco-Friendly Products? How Your Business Can Go Green

Alyssa Mertes

Published: November 23rd, 2022

Astronauts may have not explored the whole galaxy yet, but it's still safe to say we only have one planet to call home. You should do everything you can to be eco-friendly, especially if you're a business owner.

Quality Logo Products is proud to offer a variety of promotional products that can be called "eco-friendly". You'll find wheat straw pens, notebooks made from recycled materials, and plenty of reusable tote bags and water bottles.

What does "eco-friendly" mean and how can your company get that label? After all, there is a lot of confusion about recycling and sustainability. Let's break it all down so you can start taking steps now to go green!

Hand holding sprout

What Does Eco-Friendly Mean?

"Eco-friendly" is a term that can be applied to anything that's better for the air, land, water, and wildlife. It could be an eco-friendly behavior like turning off the water while brushing your teeth, or an eco-friendly product like a notebook that's handmade from leftover newspapers.

You may also hear "eco-friendly" referred to as:


  • Biodegradable
  • Climate-friendly
  • Earth-friendly
  • Eco
  • Ecological
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Green
  • Natural
  • Non-polluting
  • Non-toxic
  • Organic
  • Recyclable
  • Recycled
  • Recycled
  • Repurposed
  • Sustainable
  • Upcycled
Hand holding sprout

What Are Eco-Friendly Products?

Eco-friendly products contain materials that have been recycled, are easy to recycle, or are gathered from a natural source like bamboo or cotton. Ideally, these products should be made in a solar-powered building that uses the least amount of water as possible.

Here are some eco-friendly products you can try now!

Person holding cup

Reusable Straws

Single-use straws are really bad for the environment! Most get thrown away, or even worse, end up on the ground as litter. Scientists estimate that 7.5 million straws pollute coastlines in the United States alone. Reusable straws are much better for the ecosystem.

Woman reaching in bag

Cotton Tote Bags

It takes plastic bags about 1,000 years to decompose. You can cut down on waste by offering cotton tote bags at your store for customers to use. Cotton is a natural material, which means these tote bags are better for the Earth than synthetic fabrics.

2 water bottles

Insulated Water Bottles

Why are you wasting so much money on disposable water bottles? Americans spend close to $300 a year on bottled water, and an estimated 80% of these plastic bottles end up in landfills. It makes way more sense to carry around an insulated water bottle that you can reuse again and again.

Solar Panels

Solar-Powered Gadgets

There are solar-powered alternatives to many tech gadgets. These clean, emissions-free items cut down on harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases in the air. This matters as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that over 6,500 million tons of carbon dioxide are in the atmosphere.

Bamboo clothing

Bamboo Clothing & Towels

Bamboo is fast-growing and requires very little water, fertilizer, or pesticides to harvest. Growing this plant is good for the planet in many ways. It produces 35% more oxygen and can absorb as much as 12 tons of carbon dioxide per 2.5 acres every year. You should buy towels and clothing that are made from bamboo textiles.

FOod containers

Compostable Food Containers

Do you run a restaurant? Just say "no" to Styrofoam and disposable plastic takeout containers! 2.3 million tons of Styrofoam are in landfills including cups, boxes, plates, bowls, coolers, and egg cartons. You can help by offering compostable food containers, forks, knives, and cups.

Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries make up 20% of the hazardous waste in American landfills. If you sell tech products, offer reusable batteries either with the purchase or in your store for sale. These batteries cost more upfront, but will end up saving your customers money in the long run.

Garbage can

Biodegradable Trash Bags

Every business has trash, but food services and outdoor venues probably see the most waste. You should not only have recycling available, but also take it a step further with biodegradable trash bags inside every can. These bags won't break down into microplastic, which helps prevent any more contribution to the 24.4 trillion pieces already in oceans.

Coffee pouring into pourover

Reusable Coffee Filters

Paper coffee filters are designed to be used only one time and then thrown away. This sadly adds to the paper that is already taking up 26% of the space in U.S. landfills. You'll never have to toss another paper filter again if you start using reusable filters. As a bonus, the grounds inside are compostable!

No what you do as a business, you should try to use eco-friendly products. For instance, coffee shops can brew with reusable filters and offer metal straws for their customers to take home. Are you a designer? Dedicate an entire fashion show to bamboo clothing and accessories. The sky's the limit!

What Are Eco-Friendly Materials?

Whether you're a construction crew or a retail store, you can be green by using sustainable materials. Most of the time these are naturally grown, which means factories don't have to run their machines to create them.

Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Try any of these eco-friendly materials!

Cotton plants

Cotton

Hemp plants

Hemp

Sheep's why-use-qlp-for-promotional-products

Sheep's Wool

Corn

Corn Plastic

Wheat grass

Wheat Plastic

Wheat grass

Recycled Plastic

Bamboo shoots

Bamboo

Corks

Cork

Wood boards

Wood

Metal plate

Recycled Metal

Glass pane

Recycled Glass

How Do I Get My Products Green Certified?

Do you offer eco-friendly products? Here are 20 organizations that can certify your merchandise as being sustainably made:

  1. 1. B. Corp
  2. 2. blueSign
  3. 3. Cradle to Cradle
  4. 4. Downpass
  5. 5. Energy Star
  6. 6. Environmental Working Group
  7. 7. Fair Trade
  8. 8. Forest Stewardship Council
  9. 9. GreenGuard
  10. 10. Green America
  11. 11. Green Seal
  12. 12. LEED
  13. 13. Made Safe
  14. 14. Non-GMO
  15. 15. Rainforest Alliance
  16. 16. SmartWay
  17. 17. Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  18. 18. United States Environmental Protection Agency
  19. 19. USDA National Organic Program
  20. 20. WaterSense

How Can a Business Be Eco-Friendly?

Your business can be eco-friendly by making decisions that are as sustainable as possible. Think about every detail of your operation, from the packaging you use to the way your products are shipped to customers.

Are you ready to be an eco-friendly company? Here are actions you can take right now!

Green Packaging

Green Packaging

According to the EPA, containers and packaging are responsible for over 23% of the material reaching U.S. landfills. Your business can help by offering biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable packaging.

Sustainable Manufacturing

Your factories should be as eco-friendly as possible. Use naturally grown materials, reduce emissions, turn off lights, consume less energy, recycle, and use the least amount of water as possible.

Carbon Neutral Shipping

The idea behind carbon neutral shipping is to offset any carbon dioxide that is emitted during transit. You can try this shipping strategy by: 1) using eco-friendly packaging, 2) donating to green causes for every package shipped, 3) hiring a third party to oversee climate-friendly shipments, or 4) setting up multiple distribution centers for shorter travels.

Go Paperless

We do everything on our smartphones, so there's no reason to send paper bills or documents to your customers. This is not only costly, but it's also terrible for the ecosystem. Paper production releases over 110,000 tons of toxic pollution into the air each year.

Energy-Efficient Products

Do you have a brick-and-mortar building? Purchase only eco-friendly products to keep everything running. For example, CFL light bulbs consume 40% less energy and last longer than incandescent light bulbs.

Work Remotely

A 2020 study found that working from home at least four days a week will reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air (traffic emissions) by 10%. Many companies are already offering hybrid or fully remote work, but if you're not, it's the perfect time to start!

Green Webhosting

Green Web Hosting

Green web hosting is a great way to reduce your company's carbon footprint. Facebook and Google are already powering their data centers with renewable energy, so there's no reason why you can't also look for your own solution.

Recycle & Compost

Every company should recycle and compost, but this is especially important for those in food service. 85% of the food at a typical American restaurant is thrown away. If that's not bad enough, there are 100,000 pounds of trash thrown away at restaurants each year. Recycle what you can, while donating the food to those in need. You can also put it into compost to fertilize soil.

Upcycle

Is your pen out of ink? Don't throw it away! You can upcycle pens, sticky notes, notebooks, and many other office supplies to create something new. It's a great teambuilding activity!

Donate

Chances are there is an organization that could use materials, furniture, scraps, or supplies that your business no longer needs. A quick Google search is all it takes to find a worthwhile cause.

Volunteer

Dedicate work time to an eco-friendly nonprofit. Your team can volunteer to plant trees, clean up beaches, work on a farm, or purify water for third world countries. Choose a mission that's close to your heart.

Advertise Responsibly

Advertising has gotten a reputation as being horrible for the ecosystem. Start investing in more eblasts and digital campaigns, especially ones that are mobile-friendly as people spend over 3.5 hours per day on their smartphones. For offline efforts, buy eco-friendly swag to give to the crowd and host events outdoors whenever possible.

IKEA, Patagonia, TOMS, and Seventh Generation are just a few of the brands with green campaigns. Join these names and start working toward a more sustainable future.

Is Promotional Swag Bad for the Environment?

2 bottles on table

Promotional products are not inherently bad for the environment. It comes down to how the swag is made, what you order, and how you're using the items. For example, cheap keychains or flimsy business cards will probably go straight in the trash, so yes, these items are negatively impacting the planet.

The promo industry has taken great strides in sustainability. Here are some notable efforts.

2 bottles on table
  • Gildan is a very popular promotional clothing brand. 44% of the total energy used to make their apparel comes from renewable sources.

  • Koozie Group started the "Keep It. Give It." program in 2021. Eco actions include canned food drives, 100% SFI-certified recycled packaging, the removal of Styrofoam products from their facilities, and less suppliers for a smaller carbon footprint.

  • As a top supplier in the industry, Alphabroder has hired a Green Team whose job is to research sustainable solutions and create actions to start implementing them into their manufacturing.

  • The Quality Certification Alliance is an independent organization that certifies promotional products companies for meeting standards in product safety and quality. They also certify based on supply chain security, social accountability, and environmental stewardship.

Which Promotional Products Are Eco-Friendly?

Be responsible and shop for eco-friendly promotional items. These products are the most sustainable since they're useful, reusable, and made from organic materials.

Green tote bag

Tote Bags

Cotton and jute tote bags are made from naturally produced materials. Plastic and paper bags, on the other hand, should be avoided if at all possible.

Water bottle

Water Bottles

You will make a positive contribution to the ecosystem if you buy glass water bottles or metal water bottles. These materials tend to last longer than plastic and are much easier to recycle.

Corn cup

Corn Plastic Cups

26.82 million tons of plastic are thrown into landfills as waste every year. Shop for corn plastic cups instead, which take less than 90 days to biodegrade if they get thrown away.

Wheat Pen

Wheat Plastic Pens

The EPA estimates that 1.6 billion pens are thrown away every year. If that's not bad enough, plastic pens can sit in landfills for as long as 450 years. Wheat plastic pens are much better for the planet since they take as few as 30 days to biodegrade.

Bamboo Notebooks

Bamboo Notebooks

Bamboo notebooks are sure to get a ton of use from students, writers, and remote workers. Purchase these eco-friendly products to show your support for bamboo harvesting around the world.

Planter with plant

Plants & Flower Seeds

Plants and flowers support life on Earth. We rely on them to release more oxygen and absorb any harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plus, they just look pretty in your home office or garden!

Recycled Lanyards

Recycled Lanyards

Do you need promotional products that people may or may not keep? Spend your money on items that are made from recycled materials. These custom lanyards, for instance, are made from disposable plastic water bottles!

Eco-Friendly Straws

Biodegradable Straws

You already know reusable straws are best for the environment, but if you still need disposable ones, try these biodegradable paper straws. While you're at it, you can also get biodegradable napkins, cups, and plates.

Cork Coasters

Cork Coasters

Are you hosting a wine tasting? Buy cork coasters in bulk that you can set underneath the glasses. Even if they're recycled afterward, you get peace of mind knowing they're not producing any toxic residue.

Wood Keychains

Natural Wood Keychains

Hiking trails, campgrounds, and forest preserves should print their logo on these natural wood keychains. The unique look will be a huge hit with all your visitors!

What is Greenwashing?

Raindrop on leaf

Greenwashing is a deceitful form of advertising where a brand labels their products or services as “eco-friendly” without them actually being eco-friendly. Often these companies are putting more money into claiming they're sustainable rather than actually practicing any green initiatives.

Raindrop on leaf

You don't want to make a false claim of sustainability. Just look at Walmart who was forced to pay $1 million to settle greenwashing allegations made in California. They're not the only big brand that has come under fire. Exxon, Banana Boat, Red Lobster, and Coca-Cola have all faced similar greenwashing lawsuits.

Put your money where your mouth is and make sure your business is actually committed to a sustainable future. Get your eco-friendly products certified, change your manufacturing, and do everything in your power to support a greener world.

What Are the Benefits of Being Eco-Friendly?

Person on computer

If you run a business, there are a crazy number of perks to committing to going green. Not only will you save money, but customers will also have a more favorable view of your brand. This is especially the case with 75% of millennials who are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.

Being committed to sustainability is a win-win for you and the ecosystem. You'll save money, live healthier, and prevent harmful toxins from being emitted into the air, water, and land. Every little action you take today helps future generations see a better tomorrow!

Person on computer

Stats for Success

Stat 1

According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans believe protecting the environment should be a top priority.

Stat 2

An estimated 66% of consumers will pay more for products if they're made by a company devoted to making a positive environmental impact.

Stat 3

37% of customers will buy products with environmentally-friendly packaging.

Stat 4

The cardboard used for the 165 million packages shipped in the United States every year equates to 1 billion trees.

The Bottom Line

Now's a great time to become an eco-friendly business! Whether you use recycled cardboard for your packaging or buy cedar wood pencils for your employees to use, the sky's the limit to how you can contribute to a greener planet.

Quality Logo Products are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!

4 random promtional products 4 random promotional products tablet
Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world's first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC's logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.

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