People love stuff with the UMass Lowell logo on it, and we love to give it to them.
Unfortunately, too many of these giveaways are low-quality novelty items that end up in the trash. This is out of step with our institutional values around sustainability and with the values of our students, who are more environmentally conscious than ever.
University Relations and the Office of Sustainability have created this guide to Greener Giveaways in hopes of dramatically reducing this costly, unnecessary and environmentally unfriendly waste stream.
By adopting new ways of promoting ourselves, we can protect our eco-friendly brand and our planet. This guide is intended to point the way.
UMass Lowell partners with the Post-Landfill Action Network, a nonprofit that specializes in waste reduction. The network’s “Hierarchical Ethical Guide to Swag” is the foundation of this guideline.
Following the diagram, UMass Lowell’s recommendation is to remain in the top three segments of the inverted pyramid.
The following graphic and description is used with permission from the Post-Landfill Action Network.
The Swag Hierarchy (larger image)
Try experiences instead such as photo booths, event tickets, food, movie screenings, repair stations and more. The options are endless!
Consider options that don't require buying new such as decorating water bottles, clothing swaps, zines or book binding from reused paper, or screen printing items students already own.
If you must purchase new, consider products that students will actually use, are durable, and come from trusted, ethical sources. We recommend checking out some discounts on brands such as To-Go Ware, Klean Kanteen, People Towels and more.
We understand that you can't always find affordable useful and ethical swag. At least try to buy one or the other! Useful items can include durable ballpoint pens, carabiners or sewing kits. There may be other swag options which are less useful but come from ethical sources. We recommend using these options as a last resort.
Please avoid buying useless swag from questionable retailers. This can include items such as fidget spinners, slap bracelets and so much more.
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Certain common giveaways can be made greener simply by choosing a particular material or manufacturing process:
Shopping bags, pens, mugs, sunglasses, keychains, bottle openers, stress balls, Frisbees, post-it notepads, hand sanitizer, ice scrapers, letter openers, lip balm: these and many other goods fall into the category "things people already have and don’t really need more of."
They can be inexpensive on a per-unit basis, but they aren’t worth much to the people who receive them, and they are quickly lost, broken or discarded. A more original, durable or useful giveaway will do much more for the UMass Lowell brand than another worthless item for the junk drawer.
The Post-Landfill Action Network has vetted and provides UMass Lowell discounts with the following vendors:
Access your discount by creating an account on Post-Landfill Action Network’s website using your uml.edu email address and logging into the PLAN store.
The Greener Giveaways Guide is a joint publication of University Relations and the Office of Sustainability.