Friday, April 24, 2015

Eco-Challenge Part 6: Re-think Swag

SWAG ... stuff we all get..

It's everywhere... and while some of it is useful or nice or good quality, a lot of it is junk. Plastic junk.

Businesses and organizations use a variety of items marked with their name and logo to market their products and services or help with fundraising. Unfortunately, most of it ends up in the trash. 

Two cases:

A charity sends me a religious item. It is of their religion, not mine, but I could use it as a memento or reminder of the organization. The trouble is, they send me one every month. Really, I don't need that many reminders. Also, while this type of object has the potential to be beautiful, cheaply mass produced items of any variety are hardly going to be works of art. 

I recently became eligible for a national membership organization. Apparently, they really want me to join. Every month, along with 32 million other people, I get two plastic cards engraved with my name for "demonstration purposes." When I get my real membership card, I am to discard them. The second one is to give to a friend. (Why would a friend want a plastic card with my name on it?)

Each of these cards is 3 3/8 inches long. Doing out the math, that makes for 3383.84 miles of plastic per month or 40,606 miles per year, from one organization. That's more than one and a half times around the earth at the equator!

So what to do? Ask to be taken off mailing lists of companies and organizations you are not interested in. Return unwanted items with a nice note so they can be reused. (And maybe the company will get the idea that they are being wasteful. If you are a business or organization, be careful about the use of swag. Consider stopping it's use altogether.

Also, let companies know you are more likely to give if they don't send swag. The first organization said they get better results when the send the religious object plus greeting cards (four per month, in individual plastic sleeves.) Maybe we should try to change that bit of our culture. 

There are other ways to address this I am sure. Do you have any ideas? 

This is my 22nd post for the April 2015 Ultimate Blog Challenge.


  1. I am visiting from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I completely appreciate your post. I despise getting things I do not ask for, need or want. I love your idea of rethinking these things.

    1. I agree, getting stuff we do not ask for, need or want, from strangers is annoying.

  2. Companies and charities should create a "please do not send me stuff even though I made a donation" box that we can check.