From biodegradable and reusable shopping bags to apparel made with soy and bamboo or corporate gifts made from corn plastic, organizations are increasing their focus on procuring green or eco-friendly promotional items for client gifts and meetings. And more choices exist now than ever before – if you spend some time learning about the market. So, what differentiates green promotional items from other promotional gifts? Anyone interested in developing a green promotions program simply needs to pay close attention to the description of items.

Of course, price plays a factor on some level, and environmentally-friendly items sometimes tend to reflect a slightly higher price point. But it’s also important to measure whether your organization has a commitment to sustainability as part of its corporate social responsibility model. Then, the investment has an indirect benefit that will ultimately contribute to your brand and bottom line.

Whether you’re starting out small by selecting organic food items or want to commit completely to an eco-friendly model, get to know a few green terms when building your promotional products program.

Interested in eco-friendly gifts?

Eco-Friendly Glossary*

Bamboo Garments – Bamboo is 100% naturally grown and sustainable, it is also naturally antibacterial & Bamboo fibre is 100% biodegradable. As the fastest growing plant in the world, bamboo grows to its maximum height in about 3 months and reaches maturity in 3-4 years.Bamboo is known to improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas of land.

Biodegradable – The ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly, by biological means into the raw materials of nature and disappear back into the environment.

Bonded Leather – A recycled synthetic material containing elements of recycled leathers, leather scrap & tannery leather fibers, which otherwise would go to a landfill.

Compostable – A product made of materials that will break down over time in a landfill.

Corn Plastic – Derived from corn & 100% biodegradable

Cotton-Organic – Organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, growth regulators, chemical pesticides, irrigation or genetic engineering.

Cyclepet – Recycled PET into fabric prevents it from ending up in the landfills.

Green – The movement that incorporates environmental awareness, social responsibility, bioregionalism, and nonviolence.

Organic – Products created through a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers.

Organic Leather – Made from skins that are tanned using only vegetable extracts and chemicals approved by TUV. All possible by-products are also re-used. Non allergenic.

PET Polyethylene terephthalate is the most popular thermo-plastic packaging material used for drinks and food. It is lightweight, transparent, and has a good moisture barrier.

Polypropylene & Non-Woven Polypropylene – Made from carbon and hydrogen, and manufactured without any dangerous emissions. Can be recycled, incinerated, or land filled without any harm to the environment. When burned, polypropylene will give off only water vapor and carbon dioxide, which is converted by photosynthesis. Sometimes known as “pp”.

Post-Consumer Material/Waste – Term used to describe material that is being reused/recycled after it has been in the consumer’s hand (i.e. soda bottles, yogurt containers).

Post-Industrial Material – Term used to described scrap or excess material that a manufacturer reuses or recycles throughout the manufacturing process.

Recyclable – Materials that can be reused. Includes glass, paper, aluminum, asphalt, iron, textiles, plastics and biodegradable waste.

Recycled – Term used to describe material that has been separated from the waste stream, reprocessed into a new product and then brought back to the consumer as a new item.

Recycled Cardboard – The material is made from cardboard that has been discarded or once used by a consumer.

Recycled Content – The amount of pre- and post-consumer recovered material introduced in a material production process, usually expressed as a percentage.

Recycled Leather – Material is untreated and is made with leather scraps – recycled to save waste. (As opposed to scraps going into a landfill, they are recovered and reprocessed to make leather material.)

SAFE Plastic – Truly biodegradable in landfills & composting, environmentally safe, no toxic effects, can be recycled.

Soya Bean – 100% biodegradable & Non-toxic.

*Source: Halo/Lee Wayne Green Promotions, 2010

Originally Published January 9, 2010