Promotional products are rarely, if ever, good for the environment

Yesterday morning GallonDaily’s editor received an unsolicited call from a company which claims to offer ‘promotional products from over 3000 suppliers’ and ‘exclusive to some of the finest around the world’. Your editor suggested that his company does not offer promotional products (pens, usb sticks, ballpark caps, etc) because they are generically not good for the environment and that, as an environmental organization, we decline to give away products which contribute to environmental harm.

The unsolicited salesman laughed and said that his company offers recycled plastic products, bamboo products, and many more which are good for the environment. Your editor responded that none of these products are ‘good’ for the environment and that we decline to give away stuff which the recipients probably do not need. Eventually, after much laughter on his part and a consistent message that he offers environmentally friendly products, we managed to persuade this persistent telephone salesman to go away.

The fact is that giving away junk products to people who do not need them can never be environmentally responsible. We do not totally blame this promotional products company for trying to sell its greener promotional products, though it was clear that this particular telephone salesperson had no environmental expertise whatsoever. We might take the position that if a company is going to give away promotional gifts then it is better that they be greener gifts than non-green gifts. However, the fact is that giving trivial giftware to people who neither want nor need it is an environmentally harmful activity and is a totally unnecessary contribution to generation of garbage.

GallonDaily has two proposals:

1) companies that claim to be environmentally and socially responsible should swear off the handing out of pens, caps, balls, t-shirts, or any other ‘promotional item’ that is unnecessary and most likely unneeded and unwanted by the recipient; and

2) that stewardship organizations across Canada should give priority to charging stewardship fees to companies which distribute these ‘promotional items’ for free handout to visitors to company offices, conferences, exhibitions, etc.

If companies wish to hand out ‘promotional items’ GallonDaily suggests that those items should be in the form of candies or other junk food items. At least then it is only the recipients or their families that are becoming unnecessarily fat, not Canada’s landfills 🙂

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