Today, both in the workplace and with your customers, sustainability is no longer just a trendy buzzword; it's an important responsibility that must be embraced for the good of people and the planet. As businesses strive to be more socially and environmentally conscious, the way that corporate gift giving is now being viewed is growing quickly. Forbes reported that currently, the market has risen to be a $242 billion industry, which is expected to swell above $3 billion within the next two years. Beyond just building relationships with employees and customers, companies are now using gift-giving as not only an opportunity to promote sustainable efforts but also to show gift recipients their companies' own commitment to sustainability.
Let's take a closer look at the importance of corporate sustainable gift giving and its benefits and provide some practical ideas for eco-friendly gifts that leave a positive impact on both your gift recipients and the planet.
Why give sustainable and eco-friendly gifts?
- They align with your corporate values: When businesses incorporate sustainability into their gifting practices, they show a true commitment to their environmental and social responsibility, thereby demonstrating their values and care for people and the planet. It shows they care about improving the quality of our lives, protecting our ecosystem, and preserving natural resources for future generations. In the corporate world, sustainability is associated with an organization's holistic approach, taking into consideration everything, from manufacturing to the way they do business. Sustainable gift-giving can positively influence a company's image. It showcases a genuine concern for the environment and social well-being, which can boost the perception of the brand. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is of greater importance to them. And this could mean that consumers will greatly support companies putting in sustainable efforts.
- Boosting Employee Engagement: Employee recognition is extremely important in today's workplace. It can improve work culture, increase productivity, and reduce turnover. When employees don't feel appreciated, they will leave their jobs- in fact, 66% of employees say they would "likely leave their job if they didn't feel appreciated." When employees receive gifts that echo their values, they become more engaged and motivated. Sustainable gifts show appreciation while strengthening a shared sense of purpose. Employee gifts like reusable water bottles, laptop sleeve, organic cotton t-shirts, or eco-friendly office supplies, will not only reduce waste but also show them your shared values and ethics, demonstrating a positive image of the company and helping to create employee pride.
- Customer Loyalty: Sustainable gifts can build stronger relationships with your customers. Customers who value environmental responsibility are more likely to remain loyal to companies that share their values, as sustainable gifts are unique and thoughtful, and they show that your business is socially responsible and cares about the environment. Clients appreciate gifts that are sustainable because they can be useful, practical, and long-lasting.
- Reducing Environmental Impact: By choosing eco-friendly gifts, businesses can reduce the ecological footprint associated with corporate gift-giving, ultimately contributing to a greener future. Sustainable gifts are often made from renewable or recycled materials, and their production involves ethical labor practices. Also, consider eco-conscious packaging alternatives, such as recycled paper, fabric wraps, or reusable gift bags, to reduce waste and environmental footprint significantly. Finally, for purchasing gifts, consider buying from local, sustainably conscious businesses, which not only supports their efforts, but may also reduce shipping distance and cost, therefore lowering the carbon footprint.
Best Sustainable Corporate Gift Ideas
- Eco-Friendly Office Supplies: Consider gifting sustainable office supplies like recycled paper notepads and journals, bamboo products, like pens and coasters, plants for the employee's office or cubicle, etc. These gifts promote eco-conscious practices in the workplace while raising your recipients awareness of eco-conscious practices.
Gifts like laptop sleeve made with organic cotton can be used by your recipient almost everyday.
- Reusable Drinkware: Customized stainless steel water bottles, glass coffee cups, or bamboo travel mugs are excellent gifts that encourage employees and customers to reduce single-use plastic bottles. There are many retail brand name options to choose from, in all sizes and colors.
Image Credit: Mira
- Fair Trade/Organic Food Gifts: Select ethically sourced, organically grown, and even Fair Trade chocolates, coffee, or tea, and even alcoholic beverages. These gifts support responsible production practices and provide a tasty treat for the recipients. Consumer and corporate food gift sales reached $33 billion—one of the key gift basket industry statistics from 2021 that indicates the future of food gifts being sent from B2B organizations. Here are the top five reasons for considering Fair Trade gifts:
- Purchasing Fair Trade goods supports businesses and producers in different parts of the world that otherwise would lack business for their livelihoods.
- Offers a high level of transparency and traceability in the global supply chains to protect workers and the environment.
- Improve workers' livelihoods by guaranteeing a minimum price and protecting their rights.
- Provide opportunities to producers and makers in developing countries to reach a larger market.
- Improve international trade and help reduce wealth disparity around the world.
Image credit: Alaya Tea. Alaya teas come from organic estates and farms that are building soil health and going back to regenerative practices.
- Custom Apparel: Consider organic cotton or recycled fabric apparel with your company's logo or a sustainability-themed design. This is not only an excellent way to promote your eco-friendly values, but you are also giving the recipient a high-quality garment that will last much longer, and less likely to end up in a landfill. Organic cotton apparel, in particular, is very soft and comfortable, and organic cotton is much friendlier on the environment, uses less water to produce, and overall is better for health and the planet. Popular apparel items for corporate gifting include wearables such as T-shirts, Hoodies, Polo Shirts, and even items like Aprons, Woven hats, and Socks.
Image credit: Gallant International Inc. Gallant offers private label organic and regenerative organic cotton products.
- Gifts of Charitable Donations: Instead of physical gifts offer the option for employees or customers to choose a charity for a donation in their name. This allows them to support causes that matter to them, creating a "Feel Good" moment that lasts a long time. You may also want to shop for gifts from brands that give back to charitable organizations for the purchases you make. Many gift companies make contributions that support Green efforts, like carbon footprint reduction, or support other humanitarian efforts, like giving to organizations that provide food or shelter for people in need.
Each purchase of Terra Thread item supports Feeding America's campaign to end hunger by helping donate meals to kids and families in need.
- Upcycled Gifts: Purchase gifts from companies that create gifts from upcycled materials, such as bags made from discarded clothing, or glassware from recycled bottles. A great marketplace to find such gifts is Etsy, where you can support "Makers" that make quality gifts that also support the environment.
- Digital Gift Cards: When a tangible gift is difficult to put into a recipients hands, opt for digital gift cards that can be used for memorable experiences like restaurant and spa gifts, online subscriptions, or product purchases. This reduces the plastic waste of physical gift cards and allows flexibility in delivery and use. According to industry data from the National Retail Federation, digital gift card sales have experienced a significant surge, with an annual growth rate of 200 percent over the past five years. In 2022 alone, digital gift card sales reached a staggering $15 billion.
- Backpacks and Tote Bags: Everybody needs a place to keep and carry their stuff. Customized with your logo, eco-friendly bags are practical and promote sustainable practices. Whether it be a reusable mesh organic cotton bag for shopping, or a backpack, tote bag, or even bags to carry your travel toiletries, school supplies, and more, bags are always a much-appreciated gift. Unlike a cheap backpack or tote bag, a well-made sustainable backpack, made of a quality natural fabric, like organic cotton, is less likely to end up in a landfill, being kept and used for many years.
Best Practices for Corporate Sustainable Gift Giving
- Understand Your Audience: Take into account the values and preferences of your employees and customers. Make sure your gifts resonate with them personally and reflect your shared sustainability goals.
- Eco-Friendly Packaging: The way you package your gift should mirror your sustainable gift. Choose sustainable packaging for your gifts. Avoid single-use materials, like polybagging, and use recycled or reusable options, like recycled paper. The box your gift arrives in should also be eco-friendly, made of recycled and recyclable materials. If needed, include instructions on the best ways to dispose of the packaging that is environmentally friendly.
- Personalized gifts and Branding: Most every company is inclined to brand gifts with their company logo, because of course it is a valuable form of advertising. However, keep in mind that branding gifts with your logo could possibly limit its life. When an employee receives a company logoed shirt, bag, etc., and for any reason might leave your company, they may no longer wish to promote your brand, sending the gift to a landfill. Likewise, a customer might more greatly appreciate a gift that is non-branded. Therefore, a good idea is to personalize your gifts whenever possible. A personalized touch shows thoughtfulness and appreciation, and everybody loves seeing their name! A quality personalized gift is much more likely to be kept for years, and although it may not be emblazoned with your logo, they will certainly remember the person or company that gifted them the item.
- Sustainability Information: Just don't assume that your gift recipient will know that they have received a caring, sustainable gift, as sometimes it may not be obvious. Include information about the sustainability of your gifts. Share the story behind each gift to emphasize its eco-friendly features. Use things like hangtags and inclusion cards to share the story of not only the gifts sustainable features, but also of your company and brands sustainable focus and efforts.
Terra Thread products come with a hangtag.
Finally, it's important to remember that gifts are not given just as Christmas gifts, but also as birthday and anniversary gifts, for service milestones, gifts of appreciation and achievement, and more. Corporate Gifts are a powerful way for businesses to nurture relationships with employees and customers throughout the year, boosting brand reputation and contributing to a more sustainable future. By choosing gifts that align with your company's values and the values of your recipients, you can send a powerful message about your commitment to sustainability. Remember, the most impactful gifts are those that create a positive ripple effect, benefiting not only your recipients but also the planet we all share, as they become more aware of the importance of sustainable efforts, and begin to pay that forward.
About Terra Thread:
Terra Thread backpacks, bags and apparel are created for conscious consumers, corporations and NGOs who are looking to make a positive impact on the world with their purchase. Terra Thread puts people and the planet first, every step of the way from organic farms to your arms.