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Sustainable Corporate Gifts: the ultimate guide to eco-friendly gift giving

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Sustainability. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. But what does it actually mean? Why should your company give sustainable corporate gifts? And how do you go about sourcing them?

At BOW Gifts, we believe sustainable corporate gift-giving is about more than just being eco-friendly. It should be an essential part of your gifting strategy. So whether you're new to sustainable corporate gift-giving or looking for ways to improve your approach, keep reading. You’ll find everything you need to know in our handy guide.

What is sustainability?

In basic terms, sustainability means being able to endure. Because of climate change and global, social problems, sustainability is now used to define how we can avoid depleting natural resources and maintain an ecological balance. So we ‘meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’, as the UN Bruntland Commission puts it.

Sustainability is important for the planet if we are to preserve our natural resources for future generations. But why is it important for your business?

Why is sustainability important for your business?

Sustainability and ESG ratings now play a significant role in business strategy. With climate demands growing more urgent and accusations of greenwashing on the rise, ESG ratings are becoming more rigorous. Transparency is key.

In other words, it’s not enough to say your business is committed to sustainability, it needs to be proven and measurable. A solid ESG rating is good for business. Especially if you’re looking for investors.

ESG-oriented investing has had a meteoric rise. Global sustainable investment now tops $30 trillion—up 68% since 2014 and tenfold since 2004 according to the GSI 2018 review. In fact, the data suggests that ESG isn’t just a fad, or a feel-good exercise. Your ESG score can safeguard your company’s long-term success.

So what is ESG, exactly?

What is an ESG rating?

ESG (environmental, social, governance) is replacing CSR (corporate social responsibility). Your ESG score measures how well you address risks relating to environmental, social and governance issues in your day-to-day work and operations.

Here’s how the ESG criteria break down:

  • E — Environmental

The energy your company uses and the waste it discharges, the resources it needs and the resulting consequences for living beings. E includes carbon emissions and climate change.

  • S - Social

The relationships your company has with people in the community where you do business. S includes labour, diversity and inclusivity.

  • G - Governance

The internal systems, practices, policies and procedures your company uses. In other words, how your company governs itself, complies with the law and makes decisions.

You can see how ESG applies to your corporate gifting policy and practice too.

Why give sustainable corporate gifts?

Giving sustainable corporate gifts shows your company is environmentally and socially conscious. That you care about the planet.

In an age when consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact their purchases have on the environment, that’s a key message you want to send. To potential business partners and customers as well as suppliers and employees.

It can also help you attract and retain top talent. More and more people are looking for companies that share their values. Research by Reuters found that 65% of those surveyed were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental principles.

What’s more, showing your commitment to sustainability can improve your brand reputation. And in turn, that can boost profits.

It’s also making a statement about your company values. If sustainability is one of your company’s core values, sustainable gifting demonstrates it really is at the heart of your business.

By sending a sustainable corporate gift you’re saying:

  • Thank you for your loyalty, we appreciate your contribution to our business

  • We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet

  • With this gift, you will be too.

Delivering a gift made of single-use plastic, on the other hand, sends a different message entirely.

What is a sustainable corporate gift?

A sustainable corporate gift is one that is eco-friendly, reusable, and/or made from renewable or recycled materials. It should be seen as having a positive impact on the environment.

The best sustainable gifts combine three elements:

  • They’re eco-friendly — made from materials that don’t damage the environment.

  • They’re made from sustainable materials that can be replaced or replenished easily.

  • They have a low carbon footprint — they have a small environmental impact and don’t contribute to climate change.

How to source sustainable corporate gifts

When you’re sourcing sustainable gifts, remember the goal is to find something that’s eco-friendly, made from sustainable materials and has a low carbon footprint.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  1. First, consider the product’s carbon footprint. How was it made? What materials were used? How much energy was needed to make it? Avoid products that are shipped long distances or require a lot of packaging. Instead, look for items made from recycled materials, renewable resources or certified sustainable wood.

  1. You should also think about the lifetime of the product. Is it designed to be used for a long time, or will it end up in a landfill after just a few uses? Make sure the gift you choose is something the person you’re giving it to will actually use too. Sending sustainable products that end up in the trash isn’t helpful for anyone. Certainly not the planet.

  1. Seek out gifts that encourage or promote a more sustainable lifestyle as well as being useful. Organic cotton tote bags, for example, refillable hand sanitisers, reusable water bottles and coffee cups, or eco-friendly lunchboxes and cutlery.

  1. Choose a corporate gift service that shares your values and ethics. This ensures the products you're giving are actually eco-friendly and not just greenwashed.

Partner with a corporate gift service that shares your ethics

Your company policy on corporate gifting may be transparent and ethical. But your reputation may be damaged if the gifts you send are sourced from a business with dubious ethics.

Reputational damage to a company is as bad as financial damage — if not worse. To avoid this, when sourcing a corporate gift service or supplier, there are several things you should check:

  • Does the company have a transparent sustainability policy? Does it try to avoid causing environmental damage wherever possible?

  • Does its supply chain negatively impact human rights? Does it have any association with modern slavery, for example?

  • What is the firm’s attitude towards animal welfare? Does it behave ethically?

  • How forward-thinking is the company about diversion and inclusion?

  • Does it give back to charity or to communities?

If in doubt, ask for the accreditations and certifications of the products you want to use and work with. There are a whole host of options that demonstrate a clear manufacturing process. And some that even champion more than just a certified seal of approval, too.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • GRS — Global Recycle Standard

  • RPET, RCS — Recycle Claim Standard

  • FSC — Forest Stewardship Council

  • AWARE Tracer

  • GOTS — Global Organic Textile Standard

  • ECOLabel

  • Fairtrade, SA800 — Social Accountability Accreditation Services

  • OEKO-TEX - Confidence in textiles Standard 100

  • LCA - Life Cycle Assessment, Blockchain Technology

  • BCorp Certified

How BOW can help with sustainable corporate gifting

BOW makes corporate gift-giving easy. Unlike other gift services, we provide the full package — from concept to branding and production to packaging. We deliver eco-friendly, bespoke gifts worldwide, offer a fast-track service and can monitor engagement too. What’s more, we’re committed to sustainability.

We only source and manufacture from accredited, ethical, trusted and reputable partners. We only use recyclable packaging material. And some of our supply-chain have EcoVadis accreditations — putting them in the top 1% of companies operating sustainably.

Find out more about BOW Gifts or book a call with us today. We’ll help you create an ethical gifting strategy that really works and keeps the people who matter loyal to your business.



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