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The word sustainable is everywhere these days: in fashion, business, education and even in sports arenas.

Big business continues to invest in proving they are socially responsible corporate citizens, ensuring their footprint — including their branded merch — aligns with their company’s objectives of being better corporate citizens.

How Companies Move Toward Social Responsibility

Manufacturers in the promotional products industry have been delivering more and more responsibly made gift solutions over the years, while at the same time, socially responsible retail brands have found their way into the branded merch niche, increasing buyers’ brand confidence.

What Does Sustainable Branded Merch Mean?

When searching for a gift that aligns with your brand identity or that speaks to your audience, you may see the term ‘sustainable’ pop up more frequently. But what does it even mean?

Here are five key identifiers of a sustainable solution, item, or brand.

  1. Responsibly made means supply chain transparency. It is an indicator of confirmed ethical production, with a living wage paid to everyone involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the item.
  2. Responsibly sourced materials is a sub-set of supply chain transparency. Some American companies who source materials such as plant fibers within the USA to make their fabrics can use this label for their products.
  3. Give-back component could mean monetary or environmental. A percentage of sales may be donated to an organization that funds communities or environmental entities. A tree may be planted per number of products sold. Money or items needed to build wells for clean water may be donated.
  4. Recycled Materials means the product was made from products that used to be something else and are now your new T-shirt, hat, or bag. One commonly used material is called rPET, which stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, and is a material that is recycled from plastics typically used for recyclable water bottles and food containers.
  5. Repurposed or upcycled materials are just that — they were one thing, and the chemical makeup was not changed. An example would be a bag that is made from material that used to be a parachute. Perhaps you are looking for a gift made of reclaimed ocean-bound plastic or old fishing net? Something that can be upcycled, like this trade show sign getting a new life as a set of pouches and tote.

Often, a brand or product can represent more than one type of sustainability — and you may find that your company and your audience resonate with more than one as well! When it comes to social responsibility, the Summit team is well-equipped to create a gift experience that delivers on your brand message.

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