In 2024, 90 percent of global consumers want companies to care about social and environmental issues. How can you become an eco-conscious brand that people want to interact with and buy from through sustainable merchandise ideas?

Imprint Engine has more than a decade of experience helping brands create products that don’t end up in landfills — products people actually use — while partnering with vendors and suppliers that have sustainable practices. We’ll share some of our ideas for the best sustainable merchandise below.

What is Sustainable Merchandising?

The brand merchandising industry is booming, with cozy sweatshirts and tech gadgets flooding the market. But beyond the glitz and glamor lies a deeper consideration — the places and people behind these products. From raw material sourcing to assembly lines, sustainability should encompass every step of the process.

  • Product lifecycle: Sustainable merchandising takes into account the entire lifecycle of a product. Will people actually use it? Where is it made? Opting for production closer to home not only supports local economies, but also reduces carbon emissions from shipping.
  • Mindful packaging: Packaging plays a crucial role. While bubble wrap may be fun to pop, excessive packaging harms the environment. Sustainable practices involve using only necessary packaging materials that are biodegradable or compostable.
  • Ethical partnerships: Choosing to partner with companies that prioritize fair trade and anti-forced labor practices is essential. By supporting ethical supply chains, we contribute to a more just and sustainable world.
  • Eco-friendly products: Compostable or biodegradable products are gaining traction. These alternatives minimize waste and leave a smaller ecological footprint.
  • Recycling and upcycling: Finally, sustainable merchandising embraces upcycled and recycled products. By giving new life to existing materials, we reduce the strain on natural resources.

The 7 Best Sustainable Merchandise Ideas to Elevate Your Brand

Here are seven sustainable merchandise ideas that can help you connect with your customers, impress stakeholders, and promote environmentally friendly practices:

1. Branded Apparel

This Original Favorites’ hoodie is produced in a windmill-powered, Fair Trade Certified™ facility. The entire supply chain — from raw material harvesting to crafting — reduces harmful impact. Original Favorites also embraces the use of GOTS Organic Cotton, ensuring that textiles meet the highest standards.

For clients, employees, and any comfort-meets-luxury gifting needs, this men’s polo shirt made of half-recycled polyester and men’s crewneck made of re-spun fabrics are light, ultra-breathable gifts that people will actually use (no landfills!).

Our brand experiences support companies’ offline experiences from start to finish, streamlining the entire process. We vet vendors and suppliers for sustainable merchandise ideas, taking everything off your hands. 

2. Cotton Tote Bags

Choosing tote bags like the 11” shoulder strap,  FEED’s shopper tote, or the executive work tote, made from 100% organic cotton, supports environmental health. These products are grown without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and unlike conventional cotton, they promote soil health and biodiversity.

The rising trend of upcycling old products into recyclable tote bags exemplifies how companies, including ours, are innovating to reduce waste through sustainable merchandise ideas. Use and renew!

3. Reusable Water Bottles

Our curated selection of sustainable business merchandise includes innovative products like Rupt’s water bottle. Crafted from 90% recycled stainless steel, each bottle comes in second-life packaging designed to be repurposed into useful items such as spice racks, birdhouses, and desk clocks. Rupt, a brand we proudly partner with, commits to using exclusively recycled materials, underscoring our shared dedication to sustainability.

Similarly, Ocean Bottle helps combat ocean pollution by collecting 1,000 plastic bottles with each purchase. Another option is Klean Kanteen’s 20oz twist cap bottle, made from post-consumer recyclables. These water bottles offer an excellent canvas for precise and detailed branding, achievable through advanced digital print or laser technology.

4. Eco-Friendly Tech Accessories

Keep remote teams connected and distractions at bay with these  2-in-1 wireless headphones made from bamboo, which double as a charging bank for tuning out noise in bustling airports or at home. This ultra-powered 1000 mAh power bank, crafted from 90% post-recycled materials, can charge two devices simultaneously, ensuring you’re always powered up.

For a truly immersive audio experience during a fun-filled weekend, Rupt’s 80-watt high-capacity speakers deliver exceptional clarity and range. Plus, the customization options on these speakers are awesome!

5. Bamboo Ballpoint Pens

Bamboo, one of the fastest growing plants on earth, can grow up to three feet in a single day under ideal conditions — far more sustainable than hardwood trees that take decades to mature. 

The Bambowie Bamboo pen features a high-capacity ballpoint for smooth writing, while the Belmond Bamboo pen boasts a heavy-duty, brass-wrap body. For those who appreciate elegance, the Milano pen combines bamboo with gold accents.

Going beyond bamboo, the Albury pen features a plunger and tip made of wheat straw plastic — a renewable agricultural resource that would otherwise go to waste. Pens are a signature experience and precision engraved with CO2 lasers.

6. Seed Paper Print and Packaging

Another great business merchandise idea that stands out is from our partner, Bloomin Promotions. They use premium seed paper for packing boxes when shipping gifts to clients. Once the recipient receives the gift, they can plant the seed paper packaging. As they water it, wildflowers bloom, creating a delightful and eco-friendly experience. They also carry  paper postcards and hang tags perfect for the holidays.

7. Desktop Garden Kits

Consider gifting a potted plant to freshen up spaces and improve air quality. Plants naturally absorb airborne pollutants and make excellent sustainable gifts.

For instance, the tropical petra plant kit thrives in bright light, and when you gift the mini bamboo blossom kit, a tree is planted. Another eco-friendly option is the good luck clover kit, which features organic non-GMO seeds and includes a self-watering natural wicker. These gifts serve as a great welcome for new hires or cultivating client relationships. 

Committing to Sustainability on a Global Scale

When it comes to ethical practices, go beyond ensuring your products align with the treatment of people and the planet. Take a closer look at your merchandise partner’s practices. Are they truly prioritizing the environment? For instance, they might offer eco-friendly merchandise, but shipping it involves significant jet fuel consumption. To put it in perspective, a cargo aircraft like the Boeing 747 burns approximately 10-11 tons of fuel per hour — equivalent to the weight of two adult elephants!

To avoid the risk of greenwashing, collaborate with a genuinely sustainable brand partner — one that is ethical in both product and practice. At Imprint Engine, we have a meticulous vetting process to assess hundreds of vendors and suppliers. Additionally, our global account management team handles production, shipping, storage, and distribution across local offices worldwide.

But that’s not all — we also boast an in-house team dedicated to creativity, production, and design. This translates to ultra-customizable branding options. Whether your audience includes clients, employees, or trade show attendees, seize the opportunity to make a significant impact.

Create Sustainable Merchandise with Imprint Engine

Consumers care about ethical and sustainable products. Our team is ready to help you go big with our selection of sustainable merchandise options from around the world and hit home with your customers, clients, and employees. Drop us a line — we’d love to help you create.