PPAI Magazine November 2023

This summer, PPAI Media introduced the PPAI 100 list, an ambitious project that ranks distributors and suppliers every year based on more than just revenue. Included in that ranking criteria is responsibility in regard to sustainability progress and practices, DEI initiatives and product safety. This is an example of PPAI’s emphasized view that being a responsible company factors into what makes a great promotional products company. The PPAI Board of Directors made elevating sustainability and responsibility a pillar of the strategic plan it developed for the industry in 2021. In her new role, Wimbush will head an overarching responsibility committee of industry volunteers, which will encompass groups focused on sustainability, product responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion. “There is a need to bring everybody together and all this positive intent and galvanize it into action,” Wimbush says. “I want to be part of that.” What members will learn from Wimbush is that, while action is urgent when it comes to sustainability measures, solutions are approachable. PPAI’s newest hire comes to this role having not only worked at a large distributorship but also, previous to the promo industry, as a business proprietor herself. For seven years, Wimbush owned and ran Café Novo in Toronto, which focused on fair-trade, organic and sustainable offerings and business practices. Such a venture might not have the potential to end the world’s ecological problems, but it can build up a mindset and put into practice the concept of never missing an opportunity to do the responsible thing. This opportunity, in essence, is a blank canvas and a mandate to do what needs to be done for this industry – often criticized as one marked by waste – to clean up its act once and for all and push past negative connotations. Education will be key, because the simplest reason she can provide for adopting a particular sustainability initiative or plan is that another company, whether in this industry or outside of it, has done so and found great success. “I really think you can empower people with education on what they can do personally or what their business can do and help them understand that there are clear paths forward, and there are frameworks in place that can help everybody contribute,” Wimbush says. Passion is contagious, and it doesn’t take long to see its utility among a community. Graham saw it in Wimbush early. Having hired her for a position unrelated to sustainability back at Rightsleeve, Graham and other managers encouraged Wimbush to Must Read | Elizabeth Wimbush Molibdenis-Studio / Shutterstock.com 42 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI