Fifty shades of green

Sustainability is big business. Today people and companies are willing to pay more for products and services committed to minimizing their environmental impact. But when choosing a supplier for your own brand’s promotional efforts, how do you know if your favourite brand or trusted supplier is truly green – or just greenwashing?

Go beyond buzzwords (and colours)
Green hills, green trees, green nature: as wonderfully appropriate as the colour green is for marketing brand sustainability, the colour should set off a red flag. Be wary of words like sustainable, eco-friendly and natural. Of course, it’s not that these words can’t be used honestly and accurately. But a healthy skepticism and a willingness to dig deeper will help you understand if you can take the company’s claims and colours at face value.

It’s a material world
Madonna was right: we are living in a material world, which means that all materials are not the same. Natural materials like wood sound great, but when deforestation continues to threaten the world’s most prized and necessary forests it pays to make sure your choices aren’t making the problem worse. Suppliers using FSC certified timber, for example, promise internationally-recognized standards for sustainable forest management. Plastic is another material to think twice about: while mono-use plastic gets a deservedly bad rap, plastic used in durable goods destined for repeated use may often provide a more sustainable alternative to natural materials in short supply.

Think process, not (just) product
It’s not just the materials and the product that matter – there are countless decisions in every manufacturing process that can skew the environmental impact from minimal toward massive. How many kilometres are in the manufacturing chain, from raw materials to assembly to shipping (does Made in Country X just mean “finished in Country X” or actually produced from start to finish)? What kind of energy is used (and if it’s electric, what’s fueling that electricity)? And are the work conditions in the country of manufacture sustainable for the lives and welfare of the workers? To adapt a metaphor: a production chain is only as sustainable as its least sustainable link.

Labels matter
There are any number of associations, tags, awards and certifications that any company can print on there label, but what do they mean? Read them carefully and look for the most common and reputable ones, like certified organic in the country of origin, or FSC managed forests.

It’s all about the About
Beyond the product itself, consider the company. Look up their corporate website, read their About page or sustainability page and investigate their real long-term commitment to making a minimal impact on the environment.

How green is Prodir?
At Prodir we offer decidedly more sustainable writing instruments for brands wanting to demonstrate their commitment to a greener future in their branding and promotion. But don’t just take Open’s word for it – in the spirit of this article, see for yourself. Read online or download the Prodir sustainability manifesto, to dig deeper into how Prodir means sustainability in materials, durability, 0km recycling and quality of life.

Prodir and Sustainability: a Manifesto
Prodir Sustainability page
What is FSC Certification?

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