Archive | Eco-entrepreneurs RSS feed for this section

How American Giant created the best sweatshirt known to man.

1 Sep

You may have read the article in SLATE back in 2012, “This Is the Greatest Hoodie Ever Made”.

It tells the story of American Giant, and how they think about the things we buy and how they are made.

“I thought it would be a polite interview that would go nowhere, but I quickly found American Giant’s story irresistible. For one thing, Winthrop had figured out a way to do what most people in the apparel industry consider impossible: He’s making clothes entirely in the United States, and he’s doing so at costs that aren’t prohibitive.”

Now American Giant is entering the promotion products industry with a partnership with PCNA. Starting this September, American Giant apparel is available with custom imprinting and custom branding of your business logo, and custom artwork.

This is a whole new level of quality and commitment to Made is USA apparel. Take a look at the full American Giant line at PCNA, read over the original 2012 article, and take a moment to think about your brand, your values, and if partnering with branded American Giant items aligns with your company’s goals and values.

If you are interested in Made in the USA 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.

Meet the Family Behind KarmaLit’s Custom Soy Candles

26 Jul

For the founders of the Colorado-based supplier, it was all about creating new family memories – centered around its sustainable, hand-poured candles, with a built-in educational giveback program.

By Nyah Marshall, ASI June 27, 2022

There’s probably only one thing that Golden State, Favorite Hoodie, String Lights, Book Club and Front Porch have in common: They’re all scented candles available from KarmaLit (asi/63906). For Sejal Parag – founder of the Colorado-based sustainable soy candle supplier – there’s a certain scent-attached memory that stimulated her idea for KarmaLit and its uniquely named premium candles.

When Sejal was a child, every evening around 5 o’clock her mother would light a candle while making dinner. As Sejal began having children of her own, those memories came flooding back, and she wanted to take advantage of the full-circle moment to create significant scent-attached memories with her own daughter.

However, the candles that Sejal and her husband, Ashil, lit in their home had to check off certain boxes. As young parents who at the time lived in San Francisco, it was important that these candles were inexpensive but premium, burned cleanly and were filled with passion.

“I thought, I have this memory from my childhood, I am now building new memories for our daughter, and I’d like to have this product, but it doesn’t exist,” Sejal says.

So, she created it – while pregnant with a son and taking care of a 1-year-old daughter – launching KarmaLit from the family home in 2014.

“KarmaLit was born from one necessity, but also a little bit of a closing the loop on where we were in the chapter of our lives and now building new memories with our children,” Ashil says.

As the company made its way onto Etsy and into trade shows, art shows and farmers markets, the Parags soon found an audience that more than resonated with their brand. At their very first art show, Sejal was working KarmaLit’s table for less than two hours before she had to call her husband to tell him to bring the rest of the candles from the studio because they were almost sold out.

“I thought to myself, there’s just absolutely no way. How was this possible? Did she forget 12 of the 13 boxes in the car?” Ashil recalls.

Soon, large orders and major brand partnerships began to roll in, and Sejal’s dream of recreating memories with eco-friendly soy candles became a reality.

“We thought to ourselves, OK, we’re really onto something here because we can actually provide a premium product that’s not a throwaway and that people can connect to,” Sejal says. “Candles are unique in that way. They connect with a massive and wide base of an audience, and it’s one of those products that everybody has a small memory of in some fashion.”

KarmaLit’s candles are also a hit with the promotional products industry. Top 40 Los Angeles-based distributor Nadel (asi/279600) works to deliver elevated experiences, and KarmaLit’s candles have been key to that strategy.

“KarmaLit have been a critical part of our team’s success as we lead with more retail-inspired gifts that go beyond the product,” says Carmela Wagner, vice president and global brand consultant at Nadel. “The support throughout the production process is excellent – truly, KarmaLit is a trusted partner that has elevated our offerings that differentiates us in the space of branded gifts.”

In the beginning, it was clear that several characteristics distinguished KarmaLit from other candle companies. It’s minority- and woman-owned and family operated. The candles are made from wax that’s extracted from soybeans grown year-round by American farmers, making it renewable and sustainable, according to the company website. The soy wax is hand-poured in small batches at KarmaLit’s studio in Denver. However, there were two more values the Parags felt were missing: philanthropy and education.

Prior to creating KarmaLit, Sejal worked for eight years planning events for an educational nonprofit. Plus, as new parents, the Parags were attuned to the state of early childhood education. Both experiences gave the couple insight into the ongoing need to fund the education system and individual classrooms. So, they created the “Smell Good. Do Good.” giveback initiative. For every candle sold, KarmaLit donates to education, using the Donors Choose platform to fund classroom projects.

“Our clients love knowing their gift has greater impact beyond the initial experience,” says Wagner.

That unique combination of bringing peace and comfort to the home, while also providing much-needed funding to schools, put KarmaLit in a bright spot during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand’s premium, inexpensive, eco-friendly candles were a simple investment that many people could make to uplift their space, during a time when it was essential to make your home feel like a sanctuary.

“All everybody wanted was to make something feel a little bit better because we were in such uncertain times,” Ashil says. “And, so the pandemic for us was, it was the stars aligning in a way that our product was well-equipped to take the punches of what society was giving to us.”

The small company has had growing pains, notably as the Parags moved operations from a corner in their kitchen to a studio in Denver while raising two children. But the family connection is essential to the company’s passion. Not only will the children have beautiful, scent-filled memories, but their memories will also be filled with appreciation for entrepreneurship – and all the triumphs and trials of owning a small business. The impact KarmaLit’s brand is making is a direct reflection of the impact the Parags are making in their own children’s’ lives.

“When the soul of a brand is in the right place, it can really thrive and uplift people’s lives and just be a positive agent for change in the world,” Ashil says.

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.

Case Study: Custom Mailer Promotes Ocean Preservation

20 Jul

{From ASI July 19, 2002}

Case Study: Custom Mailer Promotes Ocean Preservation

A clean beauty brand wanted to raise awareness of its partnership with a conservation group during World Ocean Month in June.

June was World Ocean Month, and clean skincare brand Biossance wanted to show its commitment to protecting the sea – through a giveback partnership with conservation nonprofit Oceana. So, naturally, the company turned to promotional products and custom kitting.

Biossance’s PR firm put together special sea-themed mailers to send to about 150 influencers. “They always want their influencer gifting to be super-interactional to get all that buzz and make people feel good,” says Devon Kaiser, an account manager at Top 40 distributor HALO (asi/356000). “They want something they can take with them and not just use once and throw in the trash.”

The limited-edition kit included a variety of creams and serums made with sugarcane-derived squalane. Historically, the substance was made from the livers of sharks, but Biossance created its version through sugarcane fermentation. The company says its vegan squalane saves 2 million sharks a year. Plus, the beauty brand has donated more than $300,000 to Oceana. The kit also included mineral sunscreen – a more ocean-friendly choice than sunblock that contains chemicals that harm coral reefs.

To help reinforce the shark-saving message, Kaiser sourced coolers from AAA Innovations (asi/30023), which included a custom digitally printed wrap featuring the Biossance logo and blue and white sharks. Kaiser also sourced reusable glass water bottles with bamboo lids from Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125). Biossance’s PR company also tucked a shark-fin ice cube tray into the kit.

The mailer was a success, Kaiser says, with a number of recipients unboxing their kits on social media.

Kaiser has noticed sustainability becoming a bigger part of the conversation with clients these days, but that conversation is often complicated when pricing comes into play. “I have clients that come in hot and heavy and say, ‘We need organic cotton totes and this and that,’” Kaiser adds. “Then when they find out the pricing they’ll usually fall back to a cotton or rPET tote. … I think it’s kind of like eating organic. You have to understand that it’s not the same as ordering off the dollar menu.”

What Can You Do?

If sustainability is front-and-center in a client’s brand message, it’s important that their promotional products reflect that message. Here are three tips to ensure they stay on brand.

  1. Start the discussion early. Kaiser had a client recently that wanted to use soy ink and recycled materials in a mailer, but didn’t bring it up until late in the development process. The earlier such requests happen, the more likely they can be accommodated.
  2. Supercharge giving. If your client is already reserving a certain portion of profits to a particular conservation effort, look for products that include a giveback element – whether it’s for the same nonprofit or something similar. Many suppliers offer retail brands with built-in giving or have their own giveback agreements through organizations like 1% for the Planet.
  3. Level up your packaging. Look for more sustainable packing options that minimize waste while still presenting your client’s brand in an attractive way – and keep items being shipped safe and secure. There are companies, for example, that offer recycled tissue paper that can be custom printed with a brand’s logo.

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.

Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

14 Jun

(reprint from The Atlantic)

I though this article was worth a reprint. Our takeaway, when planning your marketing, think multi-use, paper, glass, aluminum, reusable and long lasting promotional item solutions.

Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling. By Judith Enck and Jan Dell

About the authors: Judith Enck is a former EPA regional administrator, the president of Beyond Plastics, and a visiting professor at Bennington College. Jan Dell is a chemical engineer and the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup.

Americans support recycling. We do too. But although some materials can be effectively recycled and safely made from recycled content, plastics cannot. Plastic recycling does not work and will never work. The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste, down from a high of 9.5 percent in 2014, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled—even though much of it wasn’t.

Recycling in general can be an effective way to reclaim natural material resources. The U.S.’s high recycling rate of paper, 68 percent, proves this point. The problem with recycling plastic lies not with the concept or process but with the material itself.

The first problem is that there are thousands of different plastics, each with its own composition and characteristics. They all include different chemical additives and colorants that cannot be recycled together, making it impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of plastics into separate types for processing. For example, polyethylene terephthalate (PET#1) bottles cannot be recycled with PET#1 clamshells, which are a different PET#1 material, and green PET#1 bottles cannot be recycled with clear PET#1 bottles (which is why South Korea has outlawed colored PET#1 bottles.) High-density polyethylene (HDPE#2), polyvinyl chloride (PVC#3), low-density polyethylene (LDPE#4), polypropylene (PP#5), and polystyrene (PS#6) all must be separated for recycling.

Just one fast-food meal can involve many different types of single-use plastic, including PET#1, HDPE#2, LDPE#4, PP#5, and PS#6 cups, lids, clamshells, trays, bags, and cutlery, which cannot be recycled together. This is one of several reasons why plastic fast-food service items cannot be legitimately claimed as recyclable in the U.S.

Another problem is that the reprocessing of plastic waste—when possible at all—is wasteful. Plastic is flammable, and the risk of fires at plastic-recycling facilities affects neighboring communities—many of which are located in low-income communities or communities of color.

Unlike metal and glass, plastics are not inert. Plastic products can include toxic additives and absorb chemicals, and are generally collected in curbside bins filled with possibly dangerous materials such as plastic pesticide containers. According to a report published by the Canadian government, toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging.

Yet another problem is that plastic recycling is simply not economical. Recycled plastic costs more than new plastic because collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste is exorbitantly expensive. The petrochemical industry is rapidly expanding, which will further lower the cost of new plastic.

Despite this stark failure, the plastics industry has waged a decades-long campaign to perpetuate the myth that the material is recyclable. This campaign is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince smokers that filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes.

Conventional mechanical recycling, in which plastic waste is ground up and melted, has been around for many decades. Now the plastics industry is touting the benefits of so-called chemical recycling— in which plastic waste is broken down using high heat or more chemicals and turned into a low-quality fossil fuel.

In 2018, Dow Chemical claimed that the Renewlogy chemical-recycling plant in Salt Lake City was able to reprocess mixed plastic waste from Boise, Idaho, households through the “Hefty EnergyBag” program and turn it into diesel fuel. As Reuters exposed in a 2021 investigation, however, all the different types of plastic waste contaminated the pyrolysis process. Today, Boise burns its mixed plastic waste in cement kilns, resulting in climate-warming carbon emissions. This well-documented Renewlogy failure has not stopped the plastics industry from continuing to claim that chemical recycling works for “mixed plastics.”

Chemical recycling is not viable. It has failed and will continue to fail for the same down-to-earth, real-world reasons that the conventional mechanical recycling of plastics has consistently failed. Worse yet, its toxic emissions could cause new harm to our environment, climate, and health.

We’re not making a case for despair. Just the opposite. We need the facts so that individuals and policy makers can take concrete action. Proven solutions to the U.S.’s plastic-waste and pollution problems exist and can be quickly replicated across the country. These solutions include enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and unrecyclable single-use plastic food-service products, ensuring widespread access to water-refilling stations, installing dishwashing equipment in schools to allow students to eat food on real dishes rather than single-use plastics, and switching Meals on Wheels and other meal-delivery programs from disposables to reusable dishware.

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling. Although we may not be able to stop them from trying to fool us, we can pass effective laws to make real progress. Single-use-plastic bans reduce waste, save taxpayer money spent on disposal and cleanup, and reduce plastic pollution in the environment.

Consumers can put pressure on companies to stop filling store shelves with single-use plastics by not buying them and instead choosing reusables and products in better packaging. And we should all keep recycling our paper, boxes, cans, and glass, because that actually works.


Judith Enck
 is a former EPA regional administrator, the president of Beyond Plastics, and a visiting professor at Bennington College.

Jan Dell is a chemical engineer and the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup.

If you are interested in product 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.

Letter From Pop Promo

17 May

This flyer showed up in the inbox from Pop Promo today. I would say that Pop Promo’s claim to fame with our office has always been tons of color, and the ability to PMS match everything in their line to exactly the client colors.

However this is a flyer on the continuing expansion of their eco line, so, well, lots of green.

From Pop Promo, “We’ve been hearing from a lot of clients that they’re searching for eco and sustainable branded merch, but having trouble finding products that will still perfectly match their client’s brand. I know it can be hard to have the best of both worlds, but we’ve heard this need and have been working hard to put something together that’ll help you close business! This downloadable flyer features some of my favorite Pop! eco products including our new Recycled Canvas Fanny Pack and Tote, reusable Pop! PacksRPET Pennants, and our popular Dress Socks made from organic cotton!”

If you are interested in this product 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.

Out of The Woods® Seagull Cooler

8 Feb

The Out of The Woods® Seagull Cooler is part of the full Out of The Woods® line now available from Gemline for use in the promotional products industry.

For your marketing needs, the Out of The Woods® Seagull Cooler boasts six actual imprint areas; Front Panel Center 7″ W x 7″ H, Front Panel Lower Center 7″ W x 3.5″ H, Front Panel Upper Center 7″ W x 3.5″ H, Front Pocket Center 2.5″ W x 4″ H, Front Pocket Lower Center 2.5″ W x 2″ H, Front Pocket Upper Center 2.5″ W x 2″ H, with imprint done as CMYK heat transfer.

Other than the addition of your brand, the Out of The Woods® Seagull Cooler is the same item as offered on the Out of The Woods® website.

From the manufacturer, “All Out of the Woods bags feature Supernatural Paper™ which is sustainable, washable and vegan. These reusable bags are designed to support all your daily adventures. A stylistic update to the classic brown paper bag lunch featuring contrasting Supernatural Paper® panels and etched metal hardware for a Western flare. Featuring a spacious interior and insulated lining to keep snacks fresh whether you’re headed on a hike or to the office. PEVA heat-sealed lining. Top grab handle. Supernatural Paper™ is FSC®-certified (FSC® C153080), made of tree cellulose, a renewable resource, from responsibly managed forests. To care for your bag, hand wash inside and out with a mild detergent and warm water.”

The very stylish Out of The Woods® Hedgehog Lunch Bag comes in Ebony or Sahara, and is branded with the official Out of The Woods® brand patch, so your clients will know what they are getting.

We like these bags for mobile office and commuting workers. The reusable, washable bag is a big upgrade from the brown paper sack, and demonstrates a company or program’s commitment to sustainability.

If you are interested in this product 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.

Refresh Glass Rescue and Transformation Process in 60 Seconds

27 Jan

Refresh Glass is bring a new idea to the marketing table. I love new ideas. Their pitch, take old glass bottles, and make new glass tumblers.

Take a look at the video

See the unique Refresh Glass rescue and transformation process in 1 minute. Working towards our 10 Million Bottle Rescue Mission, we collect empties from the community and repurpose the orphaned bottles into functional wares that can be reused and enjoyed for years to come.

If you are interested in this product 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.

K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils

18 Jan

So if you remove the wood from a pencil, is it still a pencil. It seems the folks at K’arst believe so, and have introduced the K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils to the promotional products industry for 2022.

From the manufacturer, “The K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils come as a set of five solid graphite pencils. Made of 100% pure graphite with 2B hardness, it’s the best lead grade for the K’arst paper products. Matte coating to keep your fingers clean. Includes retail gift box.”

Not sure how I feel about this one. With a wide selection of pencils now having FSC credentials, are wooden pencils really something that is a concern. As mentioned in the last post, I am much more concerned with pens, and the plastics they are made of.

However, the K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils do have two things going for them. They look very, very cool, and they are from a well know brand name.

I think as a client gift for architects, fashion, or design related companies, the K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils is a great item to showoff with. Even the packaging looks cool.

Imprint for the K’arst Woodless Graphite Pencils is on the packaging only. But, again, that packaging really lends itself to making the pencils a higher perceived value gift. My daughter is very into art and drawing, and honestly, my first thought when I saw these was to get her a sample.

If you are interested in this product 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.

Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack

15 Dec

The Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack is another example of an item that you would have no idea was made of recycled materials, unless you directly inquired.

This bag is well designed, sturdy, stylish, and perfect office or travel companion. It is also made from recycled polyester.

From the manufacturer, “The Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack is streamlined to cleverly organize work, life and gym gear in a minimalist design. This backpack features a separate laptop section with internal pouch for accessories and can hold devices up to 16″. Find what you need easily with the full-zip clamshell opening for easy accessibility and quick-access front pocket with mesh slip pockets and pen loop. Keep your sunglasses safely in the soft-lined pouch on top. The external side pockets invisibly stores a wallet, water bottle and other essentials. A large internal stretch pocket is perfect for holding your gym shoes or sweatshirt, while the internal zip mesh pocket is ideal for storing small items. The contoured, breathable back panel and padded shoulder straps allow for comfortable carrying.”

The 20L in the name of the Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack stands for 20 litters, which is how volume in bags is measured. See Bo Ismono’s excellent explanation of bag size here.

Decoration of your logo or artwork on the bag can be done as embroidery (recommended) or professional digital print transfer.

The Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack is a great idea for a sales force that is on the go, even if that just means an occasional trip between virtual and main office.

Need more convincing, take a look at the Bellroy Transit 20L Workpack video (which weirdly has no sound).

If you are interested in this product 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.

Redwood National Park 14 oz Candle

24 Nov

Bring a little warmth to your clients and employees as we head into the winter moths with the Redwood National Park 14 oz Candle, from GOOD & WELL SUPPLY CO.

These 80+ hour candles are inspired by our national parks, with GOOD & WELL SUPPLY CO., making an annual donation in support of the parks to the National Park Foundation.

From the manufacturer, “All natural soy and hand crafted this candle is ethically sourced and produced. It is 100% eco friendly, 100% recyclable and made in Seattle, WA, USA. Inspired by Redwood National Park the scent is composed of oakmoss, sage, citrus and damp earth. In order to preserve the national parks these candles are inspired by Well & Good Supply Co. makes annual donations to the National Park Foundation. 80+ hour burn time.”

The Redwood National Park 14 oz Candle is decorated with Laser engrave on the top of the candles reusable lid. Learn more and see all candle options at https://www.pcna.com/en-us/brand/good-well-supply-co/shop-all

The Redwood National Park 14 oz Candle is a USA made item that makes an excellent holiday gift.

If you are interested in this product 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.

%d bloggers like this: