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Sustainable Sourcing + Eco-Friendly Marketing
March 1, 2023
One of the biggest (and best!) trends in physical marketing is sustainability. We only get one Earth—and it’s time we take care of it! Now more than ever, it’s essential that marketers reach new prospects and manage client relationships in ways that are kind to our Earth. When it comes to physical marketing, sustainable sourcing can be hard and there are many aspects to consider that will allow you to garner interest in your brand responsibly and sustainably.  

Evaluating Eco-Friendliness 

There are several factors that you need to think about when it comes to sustainable tactile marketing 

  • Are you responsibly sourcing products? 
  • Are you choosing sustainable printing and finishing methods? 
  • What are you using for packaging and packing materials? 
  • What kind of carbon footprint does your shipping partner have? 
  • Can you reduce the excess usage of materials? 
  • How do you evaluate sustainable practices? 

All the decisions you make, from concept to delivery, can impact your carbon footprint.  

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Sustainable Sourcing, Go Green or Go Home! 

First, consider whether you are responsibly sourcing your products. Where are your products coming from, and what is their destination? A product may seem cheap, but the journey it takes to get from the production source to your recipient could cause an increase in the release of greenhouse gases. Choosing local suppliers for your goods can significantly shorten the journey, which lowers your environmental impact. For example, if your intended audience is in Indiana, and you are sourcing products from Texas or overseas, that could have a significant environmental impact. 

Another aspect of sustainable sourcing involves understanding what kind of eco-friendly practices suppliers are undertaking.  

  • Are they using eco-friendly materials to make their products? 
  • Are they reducing greenhouse gases and waste in their production facilities? 
  • Are they eco-conscious in the ways they transport goods? 

Ask questions and make efforts to understand what your partners are doing to reduce their environmental impact. 

White logo with green background.

What’s inside the box? 

PureCars Subaru Kit being unboxed displaying brand logos.
Put on your persona hat and think about how your customers will use what you put inside a corporate gift box. Ideally, you want to eliminate waste, which means giving your customers something they will use in the long term. While it may fit your budget to toss in a stress ball, is that something your customers or prospects will use? Evaluate your options carefully and be thoughtful in your selections. 


You can also avoid single-use products that don’t have a long shelf life. Selecting consumables from responsible vendors can minimize waste and support local suppliers. 

Think Wisely About Your Materials; Green is Grand 

When selecting items for physical marketing, your materials can have a significant environmental impact. Sustainable sourcing should include materials that are green and have little to no waste. Are your items recyclable, compostable, or reusable? Is this a one-time novelty, or can your recipient enjoy it for many years?  

Sustainable packaging 

Open 3DDM Kit containing Salesforce sustainable gifts placed on a white background.
With more companies set on going green, more options for sustainable packaging are available than ever before. Packaging can be partially made from recycled materials. Many box options are compostable or recyclable, so look for choices that fit those criteria. Cardboard made from recycled materials also tends to be stronger, better protecting the items inside.  

If you’ve ever made an order online, you’ve probably received a delivery that was a package inside a box inside a package wrapped in plastic. Or, maybe your batteries order arrived in a box the size of an elephant. The lesson here? You can reduce waste by limiting your packaging material to a size that suits your shipment and forgo the excess. It’s also a good idea to avoid plastic when possible.  

Packing material 

Woman assembles promotional materials box.
Packing material is necessary. You want your stuff to arrive intact! Overall, plastic options tend to be the least eco-friendly. Inflatable plastic and bubble wrap are popular choices, and sometimes plastic wrapping is necessary, such as to protect a garment from moisture damage or staining. In these scenarios, consider looking into recycled or recyclable options. There are eco-friendly bubble wrap choices available that can provide a close-fitting, impact-resistant ride to its destination.   

Fiber-based choices such as biodegradable crinkle paper or rigid cardboard inserts are more sustainable options. They can provide varying levels of impact resistance, while lessening overall environmental impact. Tactive has also invested in equipment that shreds old cardboard boxes to use as packing material that is biodegradable and compostable.  

Green Printing 

West Fork Whiskey Gold Foil Labels
There are multiple options for green printing. You’ll need to do your due diligence by evaluating your print partner. The gold standard for print and fulfillment partners is the SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative). Ask your partner if they adhere to these standards. You can also ask if a vendor or partner is Certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). 

Digital printing as a whole is more eco-friendly because it does not require the creation of large plates, the energy usage of more massive presses, or additional consumption required with other printing methods such as offset. If offset is the best option for your project, consider utilizing water-based inks which are more environmentally friendly.  

It’s also essential that printers work with suppliers that are using eco-friendly practices. Green printers can ensure that their vendors are working toward sustainable goals by requiring they use Green e-Certified renewable energy. 

Wanting a high-impact piece but concerned about sustainability? Don’t let that stop you from seeking out eco-friendly solutions. Consider choosing an enhanced ink or stock. Specialty inks such as gold and silver do not affect recyclability, and many specialty stocks, such as the metalized Ecofoil Digital, are plastic and chlorine free and fully recyclable. If you want to boost your piece even more, most foils, such as the toner-based foil Tactive uses, are also certified recyclable, though you will want to check with local servicers to verify acceptability. There are even biodegradable and compostable laminates available now, which can help bring shine or texture to your piece without sacrificing sustainability.  

Sustainable Shipping 

Given the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, the spotlight is on transportation methods. When it’s time to ship your thoughtful and eco-friendly package, you want to know that all of your hard work isn’t going to be for naught as soon as it heads out the door. You can evaluate shipping partners by checking their participation in the EPA SmartWay program. The program evaluates a company’s carbon footprint and helps them to reduce emissions and waste when shipping goods. Consider a shipping option that utilizes electric vehicles or takes extra effort to offset their consumption. Ask your printing partner if you can pay a small fee to assist with carbon offset or removal programs that help make your package more carbon neutral.  

The journey to sustainable tactile marketing is a process that goes from concept to delivery and extends to every aspect of your marketing campaigns. It’s always okay to ask your printing and promotional products partner how you can make your campaigns more sustainable. At Tactive, we’re ready to help every step of the way.  

How will you make your tactile marketing campaign unforgettable in 2023? Say, “Hey, Tactive!” Our team is ready to help you level up your marketing and bring your brand to (real) life!