Sustainable Swag

Leaving this discussion in the open since some of our community members might have ideas.

We have talked about how to make our swag more sustainable. The first thing on the hitlist is our shirts in the Swag Store, for events, and for internal use.

There are a number of metrics that we can attack this from:

  • fair trade materials
  • re/upcycled materials (cuts something like 50% emissions)
  • close to source (less shipping)
  • carbon offsets
  • donation wear (eg where proceeds are donated to climate causes by the supplier)
  • longer lasting or more giftable designs (eg Patagonia stopped doing custom logos: Group Sales & Logos - Patagonia)

And more. What are some suppliers, designs, or strategies we should consider?

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There’s a couple of challenges here:

  • cotton isn’t really a great material for sustainability (even organic cotton uses A LOT of water to produce, often in places experiencing drought)
  • polyester is worse for sustainability (and I personally can’t wear it without smelling bad immediately)
  • recycled/upcycled is interesting – I’ve done this small scale (printing on shirts from thrift stores) but I’m curious about scaleability
  • carbon offsets aren’t useful but direct donations can be (depending on org)
  • longer lasting items are better but not necessarily sustainable (depends on material and where it was made). Obviously more expensive.

Some thoughts:

  • have an “Opt Out” option for swag that isn’t ordered by individuals (include info about sustainability and our approach to swag as an option)
  • embroidered patches (sew on or iron on) or enamel pins of our logo we can put on any clothes we want (and also adapt to our personal style; upcycle existing clothes)
  • bamboo fabric – haven’t looked into this lately so maybe it turns out it’s not actually sustainable