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There’s a green wave rising in the promotional products industry.

15 Feb

Compelled by evolving end-client tastes, a desire to increase efficiency, and a will to reduce the impact of industry on the planet, a growing number of top promo suppliers are ramping up efforts to operate more sustainably. {reposting from ASI article}

hand holding eco-friendly plant with light glowing light bulb

It’s much more than a trend or even a priority. It’s a tectonic shift occurring within promo and across industries that will fundamentally change and improve production, while also leading to more products being made with earth-friendlier content. Underway for years, the movement is poised to accelerate both in the short- and long-term.

“In the years ahead, people will choose better products made in a sustainable way, not more products,” says Jeremy Lott, president and CEO of Issaquah, WA-based SanMar (asi/84863), the largest supplier in promo.

“Better products work harder for our end-users,” he continues. “They get worn more, make more impressions. Quality, sustainably-made product is a positive for our industry and is here to stay.”

Suppliers have certainly been backing up their promises with measurable gains. It’s a stark contrast to the misuse of terms like “green,” “eco-friendly” and “sustainability” as marketing buzzwords. But what does sustainability really mean?

Under the EPA’s broad definition, it’s conducting activities in a manner that ensures that human impact on the environment is sufficiently mitigated in pursuit of the protection of natural resources and of future generations’ access to water, material, resources, and social and economic requirements.

In a business sense, particularly as it applies to manufacturing and operations, sustainability is creating and/or providing product through economically sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts. Those actions conserve energy and natural resources and also protect employees, community and consumers.

Suppliers are making these sustainability commitments because they believe they’re the right thing to do – and because consumers are demanding it. The millennial and Gen Z generational cohorts – which are, broadly speaking and taken together, those in their later 30s on down to 10 year-olds – are particularly keen on green.

For instance, a UNiDAYS survey found that 93% of Gen Z members believe that brands have an obligation to take a stand on environmental issues. With estimated buying power of more than $140 billion, that’s a perspective brands ignore at their own peril. “GenZers are passionate about environmental causes,” says Deep Patel, a serial entrepreneur and GenZ member.

S&S Activewear: Make an Imprint

One of the recent headline-grabbing examples of sustainability in promo comes from S&S Activewear (asi/84358), the third largest supplier in the industry. In January, the Illinois-headquartered company announced that it had completed a two-year long project that involved installing solar panels at its six U.S. facilities, which cover about 3.5 million square feet collectively.

Drone footage shows the solar panels on S&S Activewear’s U.S. facilities.

Clean energy generated from the 2,456 high-performance panels will prevent the equivalent of more than four million pounds of CO2 being released into the atmosphere annually, while also powering S&S’s operations. At two of the six locations – in Nevada and Bolingbrook, IL – solar will provide nearly 100% of the energy necessary to run the distribution centers.

The multimillion-dollar project was a monumental undertaking that featured an array of challenges, such as navigating the different restrictions and incentives from each state, municipality and utility where S&S distribution centers are located. It also entailed getting facility landlords on board, not to mention the technical aspects of ensuring that high-quality solar solutions were being installed.

S&S’s solar initiative is part of its broader “Make an Imprint” program, which governs the firm’s corporate, social and environmental efforts for making the communities where it operates better and mitigating deleterious environmental impacts.

S&S leaders, which credit solar firm PurePoint Energy with being an invaluable partner that helped bring the project to fruition, say the effort was well worth it.

“There’s no question that consumers across all end markets expect their supply chains to be more environmentally focused,” says Frank Myers, chief financial and operating officer at S&S. “The brands we partner with are focused on sustainability, as are we. Our company values having fun – and a big part of that is enjoying the outdoors with our friends, families, vendors and customers. As a company, we’re inspired to operate more responsibly and preserve our environment for future generations.”

Gildan: Genuine Responsibility

The fifth-largest supplier by revenue in the North American promo industry, Gildan (asi/56842) has been a longtime leader with environmental initiatives.

Stat about Gildan's renewable energy

The Montreal-headquartered company’s “Genuine Responsibility” is a social, environmental and governance program that guides how the firm’s apparel is designed, made and sold. For some 16 years, Gildan has implemented specific tools and programs to track its environmental impacts and to ensure its sustainability objectives are met.

The approach has born fruit. In 2020, Gildan ranked 32nd on The Wall Street Journal’s new ranking of the Top 100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies. It was one of only three apparel companies to make the list. Also, for the eighth year running, Gildan made the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices as the only apparel manufacturer included on the North American index.

In December, Gildan was named as a top performer in CDP’s Climate Change Report, earning an A- score that placed the company in CDP’s leadership band for a second consecutive year. CDP is a not-for-profit charity running a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.

Gildan makes the details of its sustainability progress available annually in publicly available reports and its Genuine Responsibility microsite. For example, in 2019 Gildan decreased its GHG emissions by 10.5% compared with 2018. Also, Gildan reduced its wastewater/effluent intensity (total effluent volume by kg of production) in 2019 by 14% when compared to 2015.

“Our ownership of our facilities and our expertise in making the products we sell allow us to implement leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices into every stage of the process,” Gildan says in a statement. “This allows us to improve the impacts we have on our people, their communities and the environment where we operate.”

SanMar: A Canvas for Good

SanMar has been building on sustainability efforts in recent years, something that came into full bloom with the 2019 launch of “Canvas for Good.” The corporate social responsibility initiative details SanMar’s goals, actions and tangible progress in areas that range from ethical sourcing and charitable outreach, to diversity/inclusion and environmental impact.

“The apparel industry has not done a good job of being good stewards of the planet. For our children and grandchildren’s sake, it is critical we change that.”Jeremy Lott, SanMar

Released last month, the latest Canvas for Good report features some exciting achievements on the sustainability front, says Lott. Through mitigation efforts, SanMar has reduced its total energy usage by 7% from 2016 through 2019, while pairing down energy intensity output during the same period by 23%. Similarly, CO2 emissions intensity is down 20% over the four-year span.

member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, SanMar has been making sustainability progress through smart logistics. The company services eight of its 10 distribution centers via intermodal transport (which utilizes methods such as train and ships in addition to trucks), which reduces emissions. The supplier ships domestically with carriers that have green initiatives and/or are SmartWay Partners, an EPA program that helps companies advance supply chain sustainability. Among other conscientious steps, SanMar runs a packing program that batches individual shipments bound for the same destination, thereby reducing the number of trucks picking up from the supplier’s distribution centers each day.

There are product innovations too, like the District Re-Tee and Re-Fleece, which are made entirely from polyester that’s been produced with recycled plastic bottles. SanMar has also been working with supply chain partners to develop new dyeing technology that reduces waste and water use. “In the coming years, we are committed to developing even more want-to-wear products that reduce our impact,” SanMar executives say in the Canvas for Good report.

Man wearing Ruby red Sanmar t-shirt

SanMar’s Re-Tee is 100% recycled fabric and never re-dyed.

SanMar does acknowledge that its water use increased between 2016 and 2019, mostly due to the opening of a new distribution center in Arizona (2017) and expanding a facility in Texas. Still, SanMar is working to reduce water consumption. As just one example: At the new and expanded locations, the company has installed evaporative cooling systems that evaporate water into the air to provide an energy-efficient cooling method. More is in the works, including establishing a baseline water usage on the expanded distribution network that can then be worked against to reduce consumption.

“Through making good on sustainability efforts, we will have product with better quality made in the most efficient way possible,” says Lott, who ranked first in ASI’s 2020 Power 50. “We all share this one small planet and the apparel industry has not done a good job of being good stewards of the planet. For our children and grandchildren’s sake, it is critical we change that.”

Koozie Group: Keep It. Give It.

Formerly known as BIC Graphic and currently the seventh largest supplier in promo, Clearwater, FL-based Koozie Group (asi/40480) announced in January the launch of “Keep It. Give It.” The program is an expansion and greater formalization of the company’s social impact and sustainability commitment. It focuses on areas like diversity/inclusion, safety/social responsibility, environmental stewardship and more.

ASI Media’s “21 Predictions for Promo in 2021” feature article asserts that the industry will increase sustainability efforts this year. That appears to be happening.

A key component of the eco aspects of the initiative is Koozie Group’s KG Factor, a designation debuted in December that identifies products that lessen environmental impact because they’re kept for a long time (until they break) or gifted. Koozie Group worked with the firm Hanover Research to conduct an impartial end-user survey to identify items in its product portfolio that have the KG Factor. There are currently 510 such products.

“Four out of five people would keep or give a KG Factor product because it was useful, functional, durable and attractive,” says Melissa Ralston, chief marketing officer at Koozie Group. “About 85% of respondents said they would keep these items until they break.”

Going forward, 75% of new products that Koozie Group brings to market will have the KG Factor designation, the supplier asserts. Through design and quality, “By 2024, our goal is to have at least half of our entire product assortment carry the KG Factor,” notes Ralston.

The supplier’s green efforts go well beyond just the designation. They additionally include elements like recycling 83% of waste, making more than 100 products with recycled materials, recycling 4,379 tons of cardboard and paper annually, ensuring 100% of sourced outgoing corrugate packaging is SFI-Certified and made from 100% recyclable and/or recycled materials, and earning the ISO 14001 certification for its facilities in Clearwater and Sleepy Eye, MN, which confirms a business is executing ethical environmental practices on a daily basis.

Alphabroder: The Green Team

Another company that’s upping its eco efforts is alphabroder (asi/34063).

The industry’s second-largest supplier recently announced the launch of “Green Team,” an initiative that includes 20 people from across departments who will work to create what the Trevose, PA-based firm describes as a meaningful and measurable corporate sustainability platform.

Andrea Lara Routzahn“Sustainability is moving from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have.’”Andrea Lara Routzahn, alphabroder

“With Green Team, we aim to enhance and build upon all the good things many of our current brand partners, service providers and supply chain partners are already doing really well, and to help others improve their practices,” says Andrea Lara Routzahn, senior vice president of portfolio and supplier management at alphabroder. “We want to make it easy and informative for our customers to learn more about sustainability and curate our sustainable products and brands. Our goal is to be transparent and honest.”

While announced in January, the Green Team began work the previous May. So far, it’s completed two important phases of work, says Routzahn. The first phase focused on research, education and assessing the current state of the company in terms of sustainability. The second phase entailed learning from the first phase and creating recommendations and action plans for achieving green goals. The particulars are still being discussed among executives, but Routzahn expects there’ll be more details to share in the coming months. “Sustainability is moving from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have,’” says Routzahn. “Corporations and organizations that embrace and communicate their own sustainability initiatives want promotional products that align with their corporate sustainability identity.”

Eco Product Evolution

The intensified energy being devoted to sustainability isn’t just coming from promo’s biggest suppliers. Smaller and mid-sized suppliers are also stitching sustainability into the fabric of their business models.

Take Bagito (asi/37896), for instance. A certified B corporation, meaning the firm meets rigorous standards on social and environmental performance, the Santa Cruz, CA-based supplier’s products, which consist of reusable bags, are made from 100% recycled plastic or 100% organic/non-GMO cotton. Socially conscious, Bagito donates part of every sale to its sister nonprofit Power2Sustain.org, an environmental literacy project aimed at students.

Stat about eco-friendly products with thumbs up and green leaf

(ASI Research)

“People can sense that things are changing with our climate and natural world and are thinking more and more about what they can do personally to help,” says Bagito President Mitch Barlas. “I believe that desire to be of service in some small way to help our planet is driving end-users to look for and purchase promotional products that are both made from sustainable materials and are reusable and support sustainability in their daily lives.”

Sustainability is also at the heart of Storm Creek’s (asi/89879) business. The Eagan, MN-based apparel supplier has upgraded 75% of its product line to include recycled materials. The green-focused product innovation is best on display in Storm Creek’s Eco Collection, each piece in which contains at least 35% material that’s been made from recycled plastic bottles. Storm Creek donates 1% of every purchase from the Eco Collection to nonprofits focused on environmental protection through the 1% For the Planet movement.

In this video, Storm Creek explains its commitment to sustainability. The video, released in 2020, mentions that 2.5 million plastic bottles have been deferred from landfills thanks to Storm Creek’s efforts. The number is now about 3 million.

As of this writing, Storm Creek’s eco initiatives had redirected more than 3 million plastic bottles from landfills into useful, attractive garments. Notably, many of the mills from which Storm Creek sources raw materials are Bluesign or Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they follow sustainable practices, including water conservation and using environmentally safe chemicals.

“In grand gestures and in quiet acts,” Storm Creek says, “we strive to do the right thing by our product, our customers, our communities and our planet.”

With the way the world is changing, there’s a growing likelihood that companies that fail to do the same will start to fall behind.

Sprout Tyme Flyer

5 Feb

Sprout Tyme Flyer just came over the desk. Take a look.

USA Made, so it is always in stock and limits shipping delays. Sustainable/Eco Friendly. There is a new interest in hobbies and crafts and gardening as never been more popular.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Sustainabalm

27 Jan

As low as $0.95 (R) Available flavors: Beeswax, Lemon, and Peppermint

These announcement just came into our email from our friends at Raining Rose regarding their new product Sustainabalm. More here, here, and here on Raining Rose.

From Raining Rose:

“Kind to the planet. Kind to lips. This high-quality lip balm was made with sustainability in mind. Housed in a tube made from virgin plastic, recycled post-consumer plastic, and potato bio-resin, it is 100% recyclable. Gluten-free, Canadian-friendly and made with responsibly sourced ingredients like beeswax and essential oils, Sustainabalm makes a statement inside and out.

We Value People & Planet. Did you know that Raining Rose is a certified B Corp? This means we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Eco-friendly packaging like Sustainabalm is just one way we live our values.”

more

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Farina – Wheat Plastic Pen

26 Jan

Wheat straw plastic is the latest eco friendly material and is a smart, environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. It is a premium food grade material and is completely BPA free and has FDA approval. The impact of regular plastic on the environment is devastating, and wheat straw plastic is an awesome alternative.

Looking for a more sustainable pen with great design and a nice color pop? Take a look at the Farina Wheat Plastic Pen from GoldStar.

What grabbed our eye in regard to the Farina Wheat Plastic Pen was the colors. Rich neons in pink, purple, yellow, green, and sky blue. This is a nice change from other sustainable pen varieties that are often just a recycled black or dark green material.

A few notes on Wheat Plastic. Wheat Plastic is entirely biodegradable; it will take 3 to 6 months to turn to compost in your home compost and only 1 to 2 months in a local municipal compost facility. Wheat Plastic It is a premium food grade material and is completely BPA free and has FDA approval. Wheat plastic is a by-product of wheat production, namely wheat straw. It has many applications like wheat straw food containers, wheat straw drinking straws, wheat straw plastic plates, and reusable coffee cups More on Wheat Plastic here.

From the manufacturer, “One of the new eco-friendly items in the Eco-Minded product line, the barrel and trim of this lightweight plastic pen is made with 35% reclaimed wheat straw. It features a natural wheat color barrel with light brown colored flecks, and has a unique texturized thumbprint grip. A great item for any organization looking for an eco-conscious promotional product.”

The Farina Wheat Plastic Pen has a good size 1.4″w x 0.276″ h imprint area, and the imprint itself is full color (CMYK).

All-in-all the Farina Wheat Plastic Pen is a great sustainable pen alternate to consider for your next marking project.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Earth Travel Mug – Flyer

14 Jan

Earth Travel Mug16 oz reusable travel mug for eco-friendly brand awareness. Available in a number of colors to help convey your marketing. Conserve resources and avoid single-use or plastic alternatives. Leak-resistant screw-on/sip-through matching lid. Silicone sleeve and spill stopper. Constructed of naturally organic bamboo fiber. Percentage of proceeds donated to Project Aware. Project Aware helps rid our oceans of harmful debris.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

News from Sprouts

15 Dec

 

Got an email from Sprouts about 2020 plans. Just like their pencils, 2020 seems to all be about growth and a better alternatives.

“We are working hard to get everything planned for 2020. However, I can promise you that we’ll have some news for you. Here is a sneak peak at some of the news:

#1: Color print on pencils
Beside our engraving on the pencils, we want to offer you another alternative. From Spring 2020 it will be possible to get your message and logo printed in colors on your Sprout pencils.
As always, it will be 100% eco-friendly. We will keep you updated on when and how.

#2: New single card
We will be offering an alternative to our single card. It will be thinner and easier to ship. As soon as it’s ready, we’ll send you more information. Most likely in Spring 2020.

#3: New catalog and website
Sprout is not only about plantable pencils. We’re on a mission to fight plastic and inspire change with positive examples. We’re Sprout pencil, Sprout Spoon and Sprout Makeup Liner.
We are Sprout World. In 2020 we will have a new catalogue and a new website ready that integrates it all. Stay tuned.

~ Sidsel Lundtang Rasmussen, CEO at Sprout”

For more information visit their site at https://sproutworld.com/

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Plants from Pencils for Holidays

22 Oct

From Sprout email this morning.

Just one single plantable pencil can make a corporate gift stand out?

It’s true. We know it due to all the feedback we receive every year around Christmas from our company clients. Keep it coming, we love to hear from you.

It seems that both employees, partners or clients get surprised when they see the Sprout pencil. It’s such a strong conversation starter. It’s something to remember. It’s a gift that gives back.

You can customize both pencil and single card or get your order faster and choose our standard design.

Learn more about Sprout at https://sproutworld.com/

If you are interested in Sprout products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Visstun has your holiday cups covered

21 Oct

Visstun, the made in the USA, fully fun, full color, amazing cup manufacturer, and home of the “Everything Green” program, is now going big with pre-prints for holidays and special occasion on their made in the USA line of sustainable drinkware.

With Visstun, you get the scariest, merriest, most exciting plastic cups available anywhere for any occasion. Plus, they’re reusable, recyclable, top-shelf dishwasher safe, and use 30% less plastic than boring ordinary stadium cups

And Visstun is not stopping with Halloween and jolly guys in red, they also have stock designs for sports, kids, seasons, campaigns, and a whole lot more.

“Need a simple way to add pizzazz to a basic promotion? Add ready-to-use full color backgrounds to your cup promotion. The stock images below are available for all cup sizes and will vary according to cup/container size. Simply specify the image name when ordering and we will combine it with your supplied logo and artwork. Depending on the cup size required, most of the stock art found at www.digispec.com/stock can be used for cups.”

Once again Visstun is living up to their tagline of “Visually Stunning Cups & Containers”. And remember, if they can do all of these stock ideas, then they can easily get your exact, full color, custom art, on a stadium cup as well.

If you are interested in Visstun products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

100% Compostable Poncho

27 Sep

33.46″ x 43.31″ x 0.39″ (85 x 110 x 1 cm)

New product email from Emperor Promos just crossed our desk on their 100% Earth Friendly Eco Poncho. Just based on the last few large events I have been too that got rained on, I think the time has come for the 100% Earth Friendly Eco Poncho.

Here is their pitch.

Our 100% Compost Friendly Eco Poncho (EM-BC001) is a step in the right direction when it comes to an environmentally friendly world. The rain poncho is made of renewable resources of corn, soy or sunflower seeds. From this material, we are able to create an eco-friendly alternative as a counterpart to the normally used petroleum based rain poncho. Within 180 days of use these ponchos could actually be used as compost. All you need to do is ensure that the temperature reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit and there is water present. Although they are made from 100% renewable and compostable materials they maintain the same waterproof and durable qualities of plastic.

I know, it’s crazy, but Plastic Ponchos Are NOT Earth Friendly. Most “disposable” ponchos are used for less than 20 minutes. But the life of a traditional plastic poncho is much longer. In fact, plastic is estimated to last from 500 to 1,000 years. It’s made from a non-renewable resource and causes a host of problems to the environment whether it’s thrown on the street or in a landfill. Help the earth and help your bottom line! Sell earth friendly!

If you are interested in sustainable ideas to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

The Biodegradable Plant & Algae T-Shirt

16 Sep

The Biodegradable Plant & Algae T-Shirt (article repeated from ASI)

A London, U.K.-based apparel company has pulled off a fashion first that takes the concept of eco-friendly clothing to the next level.

Photo from Vollebak.

Vollebak has created a T-shirt that’s made from pulped eucalyptus and beech that’s sourced from sustainably-managed forests, as well as algae that’s grown in bioreactors. The end product is a soft, durable earthily hip tee that’s biodegradable. Bury it in the earth, and it’s gone in approximately three months. But don’t worry, Vollebak says, the shirt won’t biodegrade while you’re wearing it; the tee needs the fungus, bacteria and heat from the Earth to do that.

The ingenious tee is the work of Vollebak founders Nick and Steve Tidball – twin brothers who’ve been at the forefront of wild apparel innovations since launching their company four years ago. The innovations include a solar charged jacket that won a list of awards, including Time’s Best Invention of 2018, Fast Company’s Innovation by Design award and Wired’s Gear of the Year. The T-shirt made with ceramic technology for high-level abrasion resistance, a jacket that mimics the adaptive camouflage of squid, and fire-and-water battling pants designed to last 100 years are other notables.

The Black Squid Jacket mimics the adaptive camouflage of the squid. Photo from Vollebak.

Still, it’s the recently released Plant and Algae Shirt that’s been gaining the most attention of late because it addresses one of the biggest negatives of the textile industry – and that’s the heavy toll clothing waste and industrial apparel manufacturing take on the planet. Consider: People sent about 11.2 million tons of textiles to landfills in 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, it takes anywhere from 25 to 40 gallons of water to dye two pounds of fabric, and the textile industry gulps down almost 25 trillion gallons of water annually, research shows.

But through an innovative process and use of organic materials left in their natural state, Vollebak is presenting an innovative solution to the waste and resource depletion with its Plant and Algae Shirt. The ingenuity includes using a closed loop production process to turn the wood from sustainably-managed forests into fabric. “In practice this means that over 99% of the water and solvent used to turn pulp into fibre is recycled and reused,” Vollebak says on its website. “And on the Higg MSI scoring system, which measures the impact of producing a kilogram of fibre – taking into account fossil resource depletion, water scarcity, eutrophication and global warming – this fabric scores 10 against cotton’s score of 60. Our eventual aim is to score 0.”

Photo from Vollebak.

The green engineering extends to the T-shirt print, which is made from algae. “To turn algae into a printable ink, we use the same technique used in Kenya to create algae cake,” Vollebak says. “Instead of passing lake water through a cotton net, we pass water from the bioreactor through a filter. This process separates the algae, leaving a soupy algae paste. This paste is then dried in the sun to create a fine powder, and this powder is mixed with a water-based binder to make algae ink.”

Over time, the algae print organically changes color. No chemicals or dyes are used in the making of the shirt. So, when wearers do bury it to biodegrade, only organic material enters the soil. “Our idea with all our clothing is to cut down on the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and [..] make people think differently about how long they could or should own a piece of clothing for,” Vollebak CEO Steve Tidball told Forbes.

Currently, the shirt retails for $110, and we don’t expect the tees to start popping up in the promo products industry tomorrow – but one day they, and future models like them, just might. After all, the shirts are representative of a growing movement centered on creating apparel that’s truly sustainable in material, production process and post-life. As younger Millennials and Gen Zers begin to dominate the consumer and corporate buying marketplaces, promotional products professionals should look for demand for verifiably green wearables to take deeper root and sprout.

If you are interested in sustainable tees shirts and apparel to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

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