Thursday, 3 July 2008


What's people's opinions of branded giveaway 'stuff' advertising 'waste-wise' and 'sustainability' ? I'm talking mugs, pens, caps, tshirts, that sort of thing.


librarygirl said...

Wasteful and unsustainable. But at least cloth shopping bags can be used lots of times, the other stuff is generally horrible quality. My son (10) went to a two day water sustainability conference and came home with cap, t-shirt, two cloth bags, a pen and a water bottle.
And Jason Akermanis's autograph. He was most thrilled with Aker's scrawl and the t-shirt (because it had a frog and a platypus on it).

Mel said...

News Limited runs a program called "1 Degree" that swiftly becomes tiresome if you work for them. They gave away some very useful stuff like free low-energy light globes and low-water shower heads, and they ran various naff competitions with prizes of vouchers to 'sustainability stores'.

Their rationale for giving everyone in the company a free mug was that previously they had supplied polystyrene cups and disposable plastic spoons. It still blows my mind that a company would do that in 2007.

Anyway, the mug is a nice size and I stole it (and another mug) when I left the company.

Mel said...

Oh yeah, I forgot that they also printed off vast numbers of stickers that were compulsory to put in your cubicle to remind you to turn your monitor off when you aren't at your computer. These quickly blended into the background.

Ampersand Duck said...

There is a highly collectable stubby holder released by my partner's PS department that was instantly recalled when someone pointed out that there was a huge typo on it. Such a waste.

And you would not believe the amount of crap we have covered with oil company and airline logos now that he has to liaise with such companies. They are not only spoiling the environment with their products, but they are filling up what is left with absolute shite products given out at conferences and meetings. GAH.

Anonymous said...

Well, if I get given one more 'reusable' bag made of plastic that is so crap it is just a heavier version of a single use bag, I may be seen on the evening news covering my face as I'm lead into court. Mugs I can deal with, disposable pens are stupid, t-shirts made in sweatshops make my skin crawl.

I also receive brochures advertising the green power that I've already got every time I receive a power bill.

peacay said...

One day (in peacaytopia) everything will have simplistic carbon ratings that take into a/c energies of production and transport with weightings for things like carbon costs of replacement, enviro impact from sourcing and disposing, average life expectancy of the product and maybe effect on balance of payments etc.

You'll pick up a mug see the number '25' say, and look at a database grid to see that '15' is the average and so you reject the seller of the '25'. At the moment it is next to impossible to make informed choices (beyond the obvious anyway).

[I get frustrated when, for instance, there are commentators making simplistic statements like: 'buy new green fridge for the environment!!', whereas calculating what the real costs are of keeping the old one over a given time period is very difficult to determine and then balancing those figures off against the new machine's production costs and future energy savings is a complex nightmare: but these are the sorts of REAL measurements in terms of carbon/waste needed at the point of sale for every product. I know quite a bit of work has been done on this but I look forward to a time when calculation systems are unified and made understandable by the general public and legislation imposes that the rating, like food constituent parts &c, are published with respect to every damn good and service in the economy.]

I saw the former UK enviro minister on Lateline last year talking about the possibility in the future of marrying up such a carbon rating with the taxation system whereby the more crap you buy - and the worse its overall enviro impact - the higher is your taxation level. T'was quite interesting in a pie-in-the-sky way. It was just one of a number of speculative ideas that came across his desk, as it were. ramblin', but I guess I'm saying that I'm not sure you can look at just branded goods in isolation, or at least, that's something the advertising industry ought to be spruiking among its members (ie. good environmental citizenship) which would give them a bit of positive PR actually. I wonder if the green groups hassle the advertising bodies much?
But I agree with the general idea that if a product is useful/reusable then branding is ok.

lucy tartan said...

these are the sorts of REAL measurements in terms of carbon/waste needed at the point of sale for every product.

I agree very strongly with this. If there was even a hint of something like this coming our way in the near future it's be brilliant. I'm more than happy to make low emissions a big factor in deciding what (if anything) to buy but as things are now I'm just guessing.

I asked about this because I received (by mistake) an email from one of those 'corporate gifts' companies that prints your logo on pens and lanyards etc, containing the artwork to be printed on a platic mug that a sustainability-promoting body will presumably be giving away.

I forwarded it to the person it was meant for (it was clear who that was) and couldn't resist adding a note that using a china mug from the op-shop is probably better for the environment.

I got a kind note back saying that was a great idea but hopefully the plastic mug will cut down on paper cup usage.

It's all a bit like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. The people who have the job of promoting sustainability must be specially patient. How do they stop themselves from just ringing up the government every day and shrieking that they want PAPER CUPS BANNED, NOW!

mike said...

It's really bad, for two reasons. Firstly it's a waste of resources. I suspect that all giveaway tat is more or less useless: has anyone, ever, done a cost-benefit analysis on the "awareness" raised by say a giveaway pen?

The second and more insidious reason it's bad is this: every footling, sort-of-ironic micro-dilemma about global warming gives more ammunition to the deniers and scoffers. Should I use a paper towel or an air dryer? Is it greener to turn on the A/C or wind down the windows? A sustainability giveaway pen, what madness! Whenever these questions are raised I can hear Jeremy Clarkson laughing sarcastically off in the distance.

On the other hand - and I know that after that last observation, I really shouldn't be making this joke - maybe we can lock up some carbon in the form of stubby holders and mouse mats.