Thursday, February 12, 2009

Questions To Ask About Promotional Products

I had such a great response with my earlier "Questions to ask" blog that I thought I would do a series of them about different facets of green meeting practices. Today, it is time to focus on promotional products. Thanks to our resident expert, Mary Cameron, for these questions.

Is this product something worth keeping? (If not, it’s just contributing to the land fill.)

What is the ecological footprint? For example if it’s a conference bag:
-Where was the bag fabric produced?
-Where was the handle strap materials produced?
-Where is the zipper produced?
-Where is it assembled?
-What inks are used?
-Are these materials sustainable? Recycled, organic, etc.

What is the packaging involved in the product – is there a way for the packaging to be more environmentally responsible? For example not utilizing poly packaging for shirts; and using biodegradable packing materials.

Could you make your item non-dated? – so you could use it for multiple functions (or years)
What are the environmental practices the vendors you work with are using in their businesses?

Is there a choice of production locations that would mean less transportation required? (For example do they have the option of ordering from a warehouse on the west coast versus the east coast.)

Is it possible for this item to be made in your country? What are the labor conditions where it is made?

I urge each of you to ask a lot of questions. We are finding the promotional products world to be a greenwashing nightmare right now.


Unknown said...

People can still recycle poly bags or envelopes. Plus, poly packaging is typically inexpensive, lightweight, and durable. That's why a lot of companies choose it. But I do like the questions that you listed here. I didn't think about the questions like "what inks are used?" before.

Nancy J. Zavada, CMP said...

Hi June,

Tell me more about how you would recycle the poly bags on-site at an event. Would you have a separate bin for them? Would a volunteer need to teach people where they go? How would you deal with participants who took them back to their hotels? Would the hotels need to have special recycling areas for the poly bags as well? Our conferences have between 1,000 and 40,000 participants each.

These are just the first few of many questions to be answered before I would agree to use them. Let's continue the discussion.