Earth Day 2010: Your Chance To Go Green

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Spring has to be one of the most incredible times of year, especially if you live in the colder climates. The temps get warmer… the snow and ice are melting fast and the color green is literally everywhere.
As the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day approaches, I can’t help but think back to one of my all-time favorite creative projects… writing the product sell copy and supporting “stories” for a catalog of recycled business forms timed to be introduced around the earth-friendly holiday back in 1993. Today our planet is in greater danger than ever, and climate change may well become the defining issue of our own time.
But back in the early 1990s, offering recycled business forms was a pretty significant step for a corporate citizen to take. It was exciting to be a part of it all. There was detailed research, endless vendor meetings, sample products to test and photo shoots to attend… there was passion and creativity and the thought that what we did might, in fact, change the world.
The finished catalog was a triumph of organization, of creativity and resolve… a piece I continue to display in my portfolio. Trouble was, that in the end our creative feat cold not save the line that garnered a lukewarm customer response and was discontinued several years later. So much for changing the world.
The hard fact was that our customers just didn’t care enough to buy them… even at the same price.

The challenges to being “green” today aren’t as daunting as they once were, which should mean that we’re closer to a prosperous, clean energy economy that stands the test of time and the cycles of Wall Street. Hardly. Still today’s business owner can do something to make a statement this April 22nd by choosing promotional products that get your name our there and are also known to be kind to Mother Earth.
As one of the most effective (after the internet) ways to advertise according to an exclusive study from the Advertising Specialty Institute, promotional products make a lasting impression, and are a great place to deliver a “green” message. Here are some suggestions…

  • drinkware like ceramic mugs or travel mugs that can be re-used, instead of disposable cuts that get thrown away.
  • tote bags made of polypropylene are water resistant, washable and able to hold a lot, keeping plastic bags from being added to our oceans and landfills.
  • solar powered items, fueled by the sun, such as flashlights and calculators are a popular, energy neutral choice.
  • organic cotton, bamboo or hemp is known to make clothing “green”.
  • memo boards are a handy way to hold onto details without using sheets of paper than end up in landfills.
  • USB flash drives are a great way to distribute literature, presentations or bids that gives clients the info they need, without all the printed paper the earth does not.

Eco-friendly promotions are a smart move, but be sure you understand what you’re doing. You need to be an informed consumer, especially since you’ll be giving customers something that represents your business, and how you regard your relationship with the recipient. A great place to start your education is Tonia Cook Kimborough’s piece in Advantages that explains eco-friendly in much more detail.
You’ll also want to think about how you deliver that eco-friendly promotional product. One of the knocks of that long-ago recycled catalog was how many thousands we mailed… not to mention the virgin paper and non-soy inks we’d used to print the piece. The take home lesson — if you make an earth-friendly claim, be sure you’re backing it to the best of your ability. Have your research done and your answers ready… people will ask.
There’s never been a better time to take part in the Earth Day revolution or start planning an Earth Day 2010 event for this April 22nd. If promotions aren’t in the cards right now, you might want to check out the Office Depot program that allows customers to turn old technology into cold, hard (green) cash. The company is working to collect 400 tons of products by the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Perhaps you might participate, or do something smaller, and more local, for your own business.
At the very least, you can learn more about Earth Day, and what you can do to be good to our planet by checking the EPA website. You’ll find a choice of five actions you can take today to help the environment, check out Earth Day activities in your state or subscribe by email to get a green tip every day.
After all, unless you’ve invented a rocket and a way to get yourself off this planet, you’d better start helping to take care of her. Here’s your chance.

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