Launching SwagCycle – Working to Solve the Unusable Swag Problem

I love the branded merchandise industry, and am proud that our family business has become one of the nation’s leading firms in this space.

However, one thing that has bothered me for years is that when companies rebrand or get acquired, a lot of swag unfortunately can find its way to a landfill.  I’ve been working with my team to solve this problem.  Last month, we launched SwagCycle, a service focused on responsibly managing the lifecycle of branded merchandise.

An important term to consider is landfill divergence.  We want to ensure that items do not get thrown away, but instead get repurposed or recycled responsibly.

We’ve developed a simple and efficient 3-step process to address this issue with companies: (1) Assess the inventory of unwanted items; (2) Confirm brand guidelines to determine if excess items can live on with charitable partners or should be recycled; and (3) Match items with appropriate charities and/or recycling partners.

We’ve been working for quite some time to build a proprietary network of charitable and recycling partners to help companies repurpose and recycle their unwanted branded items in a responsible, ethical and affordable way.

The response from the charitable community has been amazing.  These include organizations like Second Chances, which accepts donations of clothing, shoes, and accessories to assist homeless and lower-income people to better their lives and to help minimize the amount of discarded clothing sent to local landfills.

We recently helped a leading educational company donate off-brand but very high quality bottles to the United Way and Boys & Girls Club of BostonHere’s a bit more information on that project.

If you’d like to learn more, I wrote a white paper about Solving the Unusable Swag Problem.

I look forward to your feedback!

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5 Key Sustainability Updates for 2013

ImageBy Heidi Quigley, Special Projects Associate, Grossman Marketing Group

Although there has been a prolonged period of silence on “Sustainable Ink,” Grossman Marketing Group (GMG) has been anything but quiet.  We have continued to grow and develop as a company, maintaining our focus on environmental responsibility. In fact, our new Special Projects Associate, Heidi Quigley, who will be helping with this blog, just graduated from college with a minor in environmental studies. In collaboration with Heidi, we have come across several interesting articles recently and thought it would be beneficial to share them below:

E-waste is increasingly becoming an issue in this country, and many households are unsure of how to dispose of old computers, phones and other products. If you are looking for a responsible way to rid yourself of old electronics, The New York Times suggests contributing them to a recycling program.  In addition, people are welcome to bring in used electronics to most Best Buy and Staples locations.  You can even trade in old equipment for resale using Gazelle or Amazon. GMG has “The Big Green Box” in many locations around our offices so employees can easily drop these off at work, removing a barrier to recycling.

While some people are looking to recycle their used gadgets, social media tools are helping people create awareness of the environment and ways to improve it.  One interesting tool we have seen recently is Litterati, a, photo gallery of litter that allows users to share their findings and engage with brands.  Here’s a great video overview of the company.

Last month, President Obama announced his commitment to the environment through his Climate Action Plan. This proposal aims to reduce greenhouse gases, prepare the United States for the impact of climate change, and help other countries contribute to a cleaner future.

In addition to the Climate Action Plan, the Obama administration is in the process of deciding whether the Keystone XL Pipeline should move forward. The level of impact on the environment from the pipeline must be determined before any decision can be made.

As green marketing and eco-labels have proliferated, consumer confusion about environmental claims has grown exponentially.  In fact, according to the EcoLabel Index, there are more than 400 “green labels” in existence, with the numbers constantly rising.  Late last year, the F.T.C. unveiled the latest version of their Green Guides, new guidelines that all companies interested in marketing products as “eco-friendly” must comply with.  According to our friends at Cone Communications, the “new Green Guides seek to address persistent consumer confusion, cautioning marketers against making broad environmental claims like ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’ that are difficult to substantiate.”

We hope these are helpful for you – we will continue to share interesting content and observations related to the environment, green business and green marketing in the weeks and months to come.  Thanks for reading!