PPAI Magazine November 2023

Voices | Responsibility THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY has become increasingly prevalent within the promotional products industry. For many, it’s easy to focus on the end product – the environmentally friendly packaging or the branded merch item made from recycled materials. However, true sustainability is more than just a greener end product. It’s a conscious, behind-the-scenes effort that spans an organization’s operations, a foundational pillar of environmental, social and governance criteria. My article in last month’s PPAI Magazine underscores the importance of embracing imperfection on the ESG journey. The environmental component, in particular, is a complex system of concerted efforts to minimize the negative impacts and maximize positive influence on our surroundings. We often think of sustainable products as the result we hold in our hands. In reality, being truly sustainable and environmentally friendly requires examining every step of the production process and, often, thinking much deeper. What We Did At Redwood Classics Apparel, we’ve placed environmental sustainability at the heart of our operations. To prepare for a carbonconstrained future, we invested in an energy-efficient steam boiler in 2018 to reduce water and natural gas use while leaving room for growth. As first demonstrated in our Impact Report, this investment reduced our water use by 6% over the past two years. However, environmental sustainability doesn’t stop at water conservation. We took it a step further and created a novelty knit fabric program that helps reduce our carbon footprint by focusing on lower minimums and using raw materials manufactured near our Toronto-based factory. In an industry known for its long, complex supply chains, this is a noteworthy accomplishment and an example to other businesses of what is achievable. These are just some of our company’s behind-the-scenes wins. Others have found more creative ways to make a dent in their environmental footprint. Incremental progress adds up, and there are steps you can take. What You Can Do The first step is to understand the necessity of rethinking traditional processes. The environmental implications of each operation, from sourcing materials to manufacturing processes, should be evaluated. Solutions like local sourcing or implementing renewable energy sources can significantly reduce environmental footprints. Pela, makers of compostable phone cases, set out to do this with their 2022 reduction plan. In it, they laid out their plans to streamline transportation Sustainability Behind The Scenes Some of the most impactful advancements an organization can make will never be seen by customers. By Kathy Cheng Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com 34 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI