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One discipline that seems to be on the other end of sustainability appears to be marketing. Especially short burst promotions are ones that tend to have a problematic relationship with trying to reduce your ecological footprint. This can be seen in the usual flyers or leaflets that are printed and handed out. In most cases, to be as quickly discarded as it was handed out. The result is easily having your market material scattered all over the ground, with little chance of it going into the recycling bin. It gets even worse when you have used balloons or other non-paper merchandise items.

In most cases, we look at marketing being a numbers game, trying to hand out as many informational leaflets as possible. And it is not only in handouts where you see the wastage, but it’s also in the displays and banners we use to get the word out. It’s not uncommon for these banners to have been printed for the sole purpose of being used at a specific trade show or event. There are ways to start tackling the size of your ecological footprint, even when it comes to marketing. Here are some pointers.

Print work

If you have to have handouts, consider going eco-friendlier and straightforward. This could be avoiding full-color prints and going for simple prints on recycled paper. This might mean you’ll have to avoid the bleached paper as well. Go for smaller formats such as a postcard size and really consider the information you use to get your message out. Less is always more. Also, don’t play the numbers game and just hand out your material to people who seem genuinely interested. A good idea is always to get talking to someone, write down some information on a piece of paper that is relevant to that purpose and on the other side there is your promotional message. Be smart and combine. If people take it home, chances are higher that it ends in a paper recycling bin.


Avoid printing banners for single events or trade shows. You can go two directions, the first one being more high tech while the other is the opposite of that. So instead of having banners printed, why not invest in a robust display solution that can carry any message you want. You are looking for size and the ability to function hours on end without losing any of the screen fidelity. By using a screen, you can alternate the message and bring some additional pizzazz to your display. The alternative option, or even complementary to the above, would be to use a chalkboard. Not only does it give a unique feel to your stand, but it will also be a wink to being eco-friendly.

Promotional Items

You might want to avoid the traditional plastics when thinking promotional items. We tend to go for pens, cheap USB sticks and cloth bags. These are the ones you should definitely avoid. The pens are just adding to the plastic use in the world, the USB sticks tend to end up in someone’s drawer, only to end up on the landfill sometime later. Even cloth bags aren’t a great idea, as it takes quite some years usage to really consider them eco-friendly. The reality is that most people sit on a stack of these so-called eco-friendly cloth bags.

It’s Up To You

To be genuinely eco-friendly, you will have to think out of the box when it comes to promotional material. For example, if you are thinking pins with your logo, consider wooden options. Or if you are thinking of a crowd attraction, maybe serve some nice soup (all ingredients locally sourced). Serving people (free) soup is a great conversation starter, and you will have them for the time it takes for the soup to cool down, an excellent opportunity to talk about why you are there in the first place. Another great way to do marketing the ecological way is by offering packets of seeds, for example, for people to sow in their gardens. A mixed set of flowers is excellent for bees, for instance. Doing something like that is not only memorable, but it also does some good in the world.


There are plenty of other options out there to do excellent marketing while taking into account our planet. The key is to avoid anything that will most likely end up on the landfill. Avoid plastics and things that will be discarded soon after or quickly forgotten. Once you start thinking outside the box, you will not only avoid more waste, it will also enable you to run a more connected and personal campaign.