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As a leading charity merchandise partner, we understand the enormous pressure fundraising teams are under to reduce their environmental impact. We love to support charities with their sustainability goals, which is why we’ve come up with 10 top tips to help you #GoGreen with your fundraising merchandise.

Runner running through road covered in plastic cups

There’s no doubt about it, charity merchandise is an essential part of your fundraising strategy. Whether it’s kitting out your marathon team with branded technical running vests, or inspiring a local school to host a charity bake sale with an innovative fundraising pack, charity merchandise can be a really great way to spark impactful change.

However, it’s a sad truth that many of the most common fundraising items can have a significant environmental footprint, with popular single use plastic items such as disposable banners, cheer sticks and water bottles heading straight to landfill.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! It is possible to spread your charity’s important messages in a more sustainable way; here are our 10 top tips to help you #GoGreen with your fundraising merchandise.

1. Ditch the single-use plastic!

Unfortunately, a lot of key fundraising items such as running vests are supplied in an individual plastic bag as standard. Speak to your charity merchandise supplier to see if they can produce your merchandise without using a plastic polybag or find out if they have any alternatives. At Bluestep, we have taken steps to minimise unnecessary packaging and have switched to a 100% biodegradable polybag for all our technical clothing.

2. Get supporters involved

Getting your supporters on board by sharing your environmental goals can be a great way to reduce waste, letting them know how to dispose of merchandise responsibly and providing clearly labelled recycling bins at your events will make this easy (be sure to check with your local authority which materials they can accept for recycling ahead of any events though!).

3. Find a supplier who specialises in eco-friendly merchandise

From cycling jerseys made of recycled plastic bottles to biodegradable banners and cheer sticks… there’s a green answer to everything! We had a great time finding these alternatives last year when we launched ECO by Bluestep – a product line designed specifically with charities in mind, using eco-friendly & recycled materials and certified suppliers, you can find out more here.

4. Supplier Checks

We believe that every charity has the right to know how and where their charity merchandise is made, so ethical sourcing has always been an integral part of the Bluestep culture. If your charity merchandise supplier is sourcing your products from factories in the Far East, don’t be afraid to ask them for copies of their factory audits, testing policies and company environmental policies, to ensure their supplier chain is properly vetted.

5. Design considerations

Managed to get a corporate sponsor on board for your flagship event? Great news! Consider whether you need to get all of your items cobranded though, instead investing in generically branded materials to be used across multiple events can be a great eco-conscious decision.

6. Be proud!

If you opt for eco-friendly merchandise, don’t be afraid to shout about it. We partnered with Marie Curie for their 2020 kit where the sustainability status of the items was featured, both on their clothing swing tags and biodegradable cheer sticks, and it looks great! Make the most of your green credentials and lead the way for other charities.

7. Go Paperless. Go Digital!

From digital fundraising packs and event promo videos to social media downloads, there are many ways to inspire your supporters and boost engagement digitally. If you must use printed materials though make sure that your contact list is up to date, consider reducing the size of your communications and switch to recycled or FSC Certified paper.

8. Recycle old stock

Although charity rebrands can be great for increasing awareness and re-defining your charity’s brand and messaging, left over branded stock is common and can be super wasteful. Consider phasing out old stock over a period of time to reduce unnecessary waste or partnering with charities such as TRAID (who help turn clothing waste into funds and resources) to reduce the environmental impact of your new look.

9. Shipping – know your options

If you are ordering more than one type of item, or ordering your event materials in bulk, check to see if your supplier can combine shipping as a more environmentally friendly option. The lead time might be slightly longer, but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint and will make an overall cost saving.

10. Join The Charity ECO hub

We recently came across a fantastic social media forum consisting of over 700 charity members that are all dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of charities across the globe. Group Founder and Fundraising Consultant, Karen Edgington, explains that the group is a “movement which shares ideas and information, engages in constructive discussion and finds alternative solutions, all to reduce the potential negative impact of trying to make a positive impact.” You can join the charity eco hub here.

Interested in hearing more about how Bluestep can help your charity to #GoGreen?

With over a decade of experience in the charity and merchandise sector, spreading the word about sustainability is top of our agenda. That’s why we created ECO by Bluestep and why we are continuing to help charities with their sustainability goals. We supply products that charities feel confident buying and proud sharing; get in touch now to find out more!