Why It's Time to Stop Unsustainable Corporate Gifts
By: Supriya Sivabalan

"Now, to present a token of appreciation (TOA) to our guest-of-honours!"
Quick question - What would the TOA be? What did you just think of? Yup, we’re all on the same page. Just to be clear - allow me to attempt to read your mind. You probably just pictured a glass/pewter plaque with a name engraving and company logo or, you probably thought of certs. Other examples of typical corporate door gifts include lanyards, pens with -let’s be real- low-quality ink, hand fans, sticky notes, mini trinkets - you get the idea. All these typical freebies have 1 thing in common. They’re all either tossed aside after an event, forgotten or (not too be harsh but) just completely useless to begin with. 1 word to sum this up: Unsustainable.  

Economical or Pointless? 

Corporations go out of their way to look for the most “value-for-money” gifts when it comes to it. However, there comes a time to realise the importance of value over money. Are you really getting a bang for your buck when the pens you buy dry up after 5 paragraphs, or just completely stops working after you’ve dropped it on the floor? These “gifts” corporations provide the public aren’t really gifts at all if they are not able to put them to good use. All they are is additional and unnecessary waste that have nowhere to go but dumping sites due to the lack of usage. 

Banner pouches - cute AND sustainable!
The norm of unsustainable bulk-gifting should be abolished and replaced with the healthier practice of presenting more useful items. This not only allows the receiver to put some good use to the gift but channels away excess waste from landfills, bringing a positive impact all-round. 

Why are these gifts unsustainable? 

  • Material
  • It is important to consider the type of material that is chosen for the production of corporate gifts. Typically, plastic and other toxic material is chosen due to the cost-saving element of the cheap material. However, this conscious choice you make literally costs our planet with the amount of collective damage it brings. 
  • Production Method 
  • In addition to the large amount of electricity required to produce a single item, there is also a long chain of processes that should be accounted for. These processes tend to generate waste and carbon during the production, which negatively contributes to already-concerning environmental problems of today like the greenhouse effect (due to excess carbon emissions!).
    Not only does it bring harm to your home and the environment, choosing unsustainable corporate gifts also negatively impacts marginalized communities due to the unethical practice of utilizing the time and effort of these groups. Given their unfortunate circumstances paired with the amount of labour required to produce gifts in such large quantities - profit-minded companies put two and two together. This is precisely how the idea of unfair wages alongside immoral treatment of such workers came about. 
  • Packaging
  • Have you noticed how your plastic is sometimes wrapped with plastic? Most of the time, these unsustainable corporate gifts are individually wrapped with a small amount of plastic packaging for each item. Despite the word small, the total amount of plastic used is actually shocking! It inevitably contributes to the significant amount of plastic waste that is growing day by day. Sometimes, it’s not just plastic but other styles of packaging like boxes, wrapping paper, etc. is used. This just creates more waste! However, this completely unnecessary component of corporate gifts -the packaging- can be omitted by opting for more sustainable means of gifting. 

    So, what exactly constitutes a “sustainable” gift? 

    Sustainability in terms of gifting is essentially something that can be continuously used over a period of time, with minimal to no wear and tear on the item. If you make a quick Google search, some of the most common sustainable items given as gifts include towels, water bottles and reusable shopping bags. 

    Working on the Kamperfuli Multipurpose Pouch!
    Biji Biji’s banner products and seat belt collection stand as one of the best examples when it comes to sustainable gifting. They are sustainable given the materials used - upcycled tarpaulin banner materials that are commonly tossed away after single-use for events (read more here) and rejected seat belts from factories due to excess production or incorrect colour selection. Not just that, but we take it one step further with ethical manufacturing of the gifts here at Biji Biji. 
    Corporate gifts from Tarpaulin Banners by Biji Biji for British Council 
    By opting for Biji Biji’s products - you are reducing waste two-fold. Not only will your gifts be made of repurposed materials, but the durability multi-functionality of the items will ensure that these gifts are not just created for it to end up in rubbish bins, but that they are well-utilized as they should be, given the whole idea of gifts to begin with. In fact, our seat belt collection comes with a 1-year warranty to ensure its durability. 

    The stunning Anggerik - perfect to hold all your stationery and maintain a professional aesthetic. 

    Kamperfuli Multipurpose Pouch!- beautiful and minimalistic, perfect for your organizing needs. 
    So, when it comes to sustainable and ethical bulk gift-giving, Biji Biji is a good option to consider given the type of items we produce, and how we produce them. Keep us in mind the next time you’re looking for good gifts to impress your guests!
    If you're looking for more options to make the switch to sustainable corporate gifts check out Langit Collective, The Asli Co., Earth Heir, Bamboostrawgirl, and Ethical Superstore (a plus to sustainability!).
    Heirloom rice. Source: Langit Collective
    Langit Collective promotes unique and heirloom agricultural produce like rice, pepper and ground ginger by smallholder farmers from East Malaysia to larger markets. 
    Cement succulent post. Source: TheAsliCo. 
    The Asli Co. empowers Orang Asli mothers by providing them opportunities. They craft handmade soaps with interesting themes, make ceramic succulent pots and other unique products.
    Luxurious rattan bags. Source: Earth Heir
    Earth Heir works with over 100 artisans from women's cooperatives, indigenous tribes and refugee groups, across 6 states of Malaysia to ethically produce a wide range of items from bags & accessories to home & living products. 
    Bamboo straws. Source: Bamboo Straw Girl 
    Bamboostrawgirl is a homegrown Singapore social enterprise that aims to start eco conversations through the simple bamboo straw.
    For all your cruelty-free products. Image Source: Ethical Superstore

    Ethical Superstore is your one-stop-shop for ethical products of all categories. They even have ethical shopping gift guides for your browsing pleasure!

    For further information on bulk gift options and quotations, feel free to contact us at fashion@biji-biji.com