We all have them. We grab them out of eagerness or we accumulate them over years of dedicated work. If you’re like me you can’t count the number of pens, cups, bags, calendars, measurement tools, bike seat covers, etc. that are promoting a business, political figure, or service. However, if you’re also like me, you fear to rid yourself of these items because they’ll eventually end up in a landfill.

In an age of terms such as ‘sustainable brands,’ ‘sustainability in business,’ and ‘product lifecycle’ it is often easy to overlook some of the most culturally-impactful products that we use every day as being unsustainable.

If you’re wondering how your own company, campaign, or team can lessen their ecological footprint, like those of us at ‘hoodHeroes, we introduce you to Emmanuelle (Emma) Dyer, CEO of Fair Green.

Fair Green offers promotional products with sustainable impact. Reusable water bottles that you’d actually want to keep? You’ve got them. Pencils made of recycled CDs and graphite? Yours in orders of 500. What about promotional seedboms? The 100% biodegradable starch bombs full of non-GMO flower seeds caught our eye too.

As a start-up company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, ‘hoodHeroes is no different in soul than Fair Green, a fellow business getting its start at the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship. To get a better understanding of Fair Green’s products, and their creator, we chatted with Dyer about what sustainability means to her and her company:

Emma, what is it that inspired you to create Fair Green?

During the last year of my bachelor in business administration at HEC Montreal, I specialized in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and took some courses in social innovation and sustainable development. At that point, I had several business ideas and I knew I wanted to create a business that is not solely profit-focused but that would encompass environmental and social sustainability. Eventually, I started my master programme in Copenhagen and the idea for Fair Green came from a discussion that I had with a really good friend (you can find the story here)

In the end, the inspiration for Fair Green is the scope of its impact: since most organizations consume promotional products, there is the potential to make a big difference in how they consume these items and, ultimately, participate in making one aspect of their activity greener.

Explain some of your products and the thought behind them?

Our portfolio of products contains traditional categories of promotional products and some more unique giveaways. We have anything from bags, writing instruments, notebooks to drinkware, wristbands, lanyards, and coasters. In terms of giveaways, we have a lot of non-GMO seed products.

All our items go through a strict selection process which is used to assess how environmentally sustainable the products are. The criteria are the following: items should be made from at least 85% of recycled materials or sustainably sourced plant fibers and they should be produced in Europe, with an exception: when the raw material from which the product is made has to be sourced outside of Europe, such as cotton, I would rather have that product made in the same country from which the raw material was sourced to keep CO2 emissions down. Therefore, when sourcing products outside Europe, additional certifications and audits are requested to make sure working conditions are respected and that the manufacturing process is environmentally sustainable.\

It seems like many of your products are focused on natural fibers and components? As we discuss the importance of pollinator populations, have bee populations been on your mind as you create such products as seedboms?

The seedbom is a great example of what we strive for in terms of products and, specifically, in terms of environmental sustainability.

They are made exclusively in Europe from eco-friendly materials:

Production site — Glasgow, UK

Paperfoam Shells — the Netherlands

Packaging — Glasgow, UK & the Netherlands

Outer cardboard boxes and Seal label — Glasgow, UK

Compost — Withington, UK (coir sourced from Sri Lanka)

Seeds — Boston, UK (seeds harvested in UK & other parts of Europe depending on variety)

On top of that, the packaging is made from 100% recycled paper, the shell is biodegradable, the compost is organic and the seed non-GMO.

The warfare aspect of these seedboms is fun, especially as we celebrate Earth Month. How do you envision these products benefiting communities?

The seedbom was inspired by a movement called Guerilla Gardening.

How do you feel the current economic climate will impact purpose-driven companies like Fair Green?

I hope Covid-19 will have a lasting impact on people’s minds and companies to rethink how the world works and to push for a way bigger focus on protecting our planet. However, Covid-19 does not distinguish ‘sustainable’ businesses from traditional forms of business and impacts all companies, whether it is in a negative or positive way. Let’s just hope business and people altogether will start making more sustainable decisions.

What are some of your favorite sustainable brands?

La vie est belt, Toast, Blanc de gris, GRIM, Blue lobster

If you could choose a handful of SDGs as your favorites, which would they be and why?

I couldn’t pick one, to me all SDGs are extremely important as guidelines for more sustainable development and should be at the heart of every new venture creation.

With the world still mostly on lockdown and spring upon us, what messages do you have to customers wanting to shop more sustainably?

Educate yourself around the topic and use common sense to select the most ‘sustainable’ options out there. It is time to re-think your impact on the planet, consume less, and take all the steps to have a lifestyle that is less harmful to the environment.

Dyer is right, there are plenty of sustainable options out there. In fact, ‘hoodHeroes provides you with crowd-and-expert-sourced sustainability ratings that make your purchases more sustainable. In a world where ‘common’ and ‘sense’ is increasingly in the eye of the beholder, we are thankful to fellow start-up creators like Dyer that see the value in ‘brand sustainability.’

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