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An Interview with Brandon, Our Product Expert

July 31, 2019 7 min read

Evergreen Promotions Custom Pen Box

On Thursday, July 25th, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brandon, our Print Product Manager. We talked about our upcoming products, and the extensive process it takes in choosing products.

From quality to price to vendors, there are many factors that go into choosing the best environmentally-friendly product. Here was our conversation.

Q: You’re buying the products. What is your process?

B: The process is meeting and talking to the supplier, reaching out to supplier via email, and finding out what their best eco-friendly products are: how they’re made, what they’re made from. We just kind of reach out and find out what they’re made from and how they guarantee they're made from this and what checks and balances they have in place to say they're sustainable or recyclable.

Right now, the process that I’m having to go through because of our model of specific recycled and sustainability idea is: we had to come up with a list of what we want for our primary launch items. So we have six items, which are lanyards, t-shirts or polos, hats, water bottles, and pens. Let’s start with the pens. We had to make sure that if they had plastic parts on them they were recycled plastics, we had to make sure that the papers post consumered, and we had to make sure that what we are looking at has a good price point.


Q: What is a must-have for an Evergreen product?

B: One of the key requirements and must-haves is that I'm looking for and what I'm trying to keep in mind, is it has to benefit our model which is sustainability and how we’re eco-conscious. I mean that’s the bare basic explanation of what we do. We’re eco-conscious.

So, the pens - biodegradable and recycled post-consumer plastics. The stainless steel bottles? Though they’re not recycled, they're reducing how many water bottles you use. One of them is gonna take two water bottles off the shelf, out of the wastebasket, out of the landfills, out of the oceans. Each time you fill one up, you save two water bottles. So, we kind of have to look and see how eco-conscious this is, how eco-friendly is this? What do we have that’s reducing our footprint.

Q: Which product goes with what category?

B: That’s a good question. Biodegradable, Reuse, Low carbon, Heirloom. These are our four tiers in our product line.

Heirloom - the stainless water bottle can go in Heirloom. The stainless water bottle is something you’re going to hold onto and keep for a while. So, what its doing is it is reducing your waste by something - like this ceramic mug, believe it or not, that reduces three water bottles every time I fill it up. So that's an Heirloom. It’s also a Reuse. Not only is it something I'm going to keep, I reuse it over and over again. So it kind of fits into both categories.

Reuse itself we defined as recycling and reusing the materials. Anything that’s been reclaimed. Reclaimed wood, reclaimed plastics, things that are being reformatted into something new.

Low carbon products right now would be textiles: t-shirts, hats, textile type products.

Biodegradable would be things like this pen here. This pen is reused. It’s got reclaimed post-consumer papers and wood chips. And it's also biodegradable. I don’t think we have a 100% biodegradable product exactly yet, but our packaging will be. I'm looking at biodegradable packaging and reused packaging, which will be reclaimed plastics and recycled polyethylenes.

Brandon Sustainable Products Expert

Q: Because we will sell Biodegradable plastic pens, are they going to take forever to break down?

B: No.

Q: No?

B: No, because most plastic is made from petroleum. So, they take the oil, break it down, refine it, refine it, refine it, refine it. So when you take these solids, they add other harmful chemicals to them and hardens it and makes them live forever in a landfill.

The plastics that we make from plants such as corn starch and other polyethylenes they are more biodegradable because of the way they’re made and the way that they are chemically engineered. [Biodegradables] are broken down by actual bacterias versus nothing eats plastic nothing eats oil products. That's why it still exists and that's why they drill for it because it's still there. No matter what you do, there are a few organisms they found in the deep deep sea, but they only live in the bottom deepest depth of the ocean. But, they also add petrochemicals that have additives which help it break down. So the reasons they're biodegradable is plant-based and they have an additive.

Q: Plastics vs Biodegradable Plastics?

B: Both can be recycled through packaging and packaged waste collection. Recycling means they reprocess it, but even biodegradable plastics can be reused. That brings it back into the fold where we can take that plastic, break it down, and reuse it for something else. Even though, its biodegradable we probably don’t need to throw it away and into a landfill.

Q: Do you know what materials each product is made out of?

B: That’s one of the things we are looking at. We want to know exactly what these are made out of. This is reclaimed wood, this is post-consumer paper, this is recycled plastics. Each time we go to a supplier, we wanna know: how is it made? What’s it made with? Can you verify that? A lot of the t-shirts are made from RPET, which is recycled polyethylene product. It is basically single-use plastics, bottles, and straws - that type of plastic that they’ve taken and shredded and then they basically melt it down and turn it into thread and yarn, and weave shirts and clothing and fabrics out of. A lot of other things, too. There are pens in there made out of corn starch. I’m looking specifically for products that I know what they’re made out of.

That is what helps with this sustainability, recycled, and biodegradability of our different products and our different tiers. When we get to heirloom, we got ceramics, we got steel, we got those other things. We also need to make sure they're manufactured with low CO2 emissions, low carbon footprint. So, all of these things play together. If I didn’t know what that pen was made from, it wouldn’t be on my desk.

Q: Where are these products coming from?

B: A lot of these products are coming from all over the world. Not everything is made in China, but a lot is. Materials are manufactured in parts of the world, imported here and assembled here. We went to an appointment yesterday with a local athletic wear company. They own their factories, they have their own designs, their own people here in the States. But what they do is have overseas manufacturing, overseas suppliers who provide the materials. Then there are assembled in the factories either here or Indonesia, Cambodia, wherever. Depending on the product, depending on the company and their goals, all of that varies. It can vary drastically. It really varies on the quality. Now, there are some shotty qualities but we aren’t going to go with those. We wanna make sure that we sustain a quality that you’re not gonna be disappointed with.

Q: When it comes to vendors, what do you look for and what do you avoid?

B: I’ll give one main example. I am looking at stainless steel water bottles. The one thing that I’d like to point out is, every vendor out there - everyone - has stainless steel water bottles. The price points are all pretty similar, the quality is all pretty similar, especially if I know exactly what I'm looking for. I'm gonna have a thousand different water bottles on my table. When I was in Chicago, I met a young man who has recycled hats. He sent me two of them, great kid, younger than me, probably in his early 20s. Had a great conversation with him. When the hats came in - great quality hat, really low price point, no guarantee that they are recycled. They’re from China, the label doesn’t say they’re recycled except for the label that is put on by him when they got here. The guarantee wasn’t there. We didn’t have any proof or verification that it was recycled.

It all depends on how well they treat me, and how much they really want the business versus what they can provide. There’s a lot of factors that go into choosing one. A lady stopped by yesterday afternoon, whom I didn’t even speak to in Chicago. I ordered a single cheap water bottle just to get an idea of what their quality was. She reached out a couple of times: wanted to make sure I got it, wanted to make sure that if we needed anything that she was my contact. And then she said “Hey I'm gonna be in Houston, I wanna stop by...Are you available?”

This type of customer service and trying to get out there and make sure you meet your new clients and be sure you’re able to understand what we’re trying to do as a client is important…. ”We wanna make sure we have a relationship with you” and that's what is important, at least in my book.

Final Thoughts

In summary, we have 3 major takeaways:

  1. They’re being chosen as I write
  2. The products are made of recycled materials, natural materials, and natural elements for quality, long-term use.
  3. Reduced carbon footprint is the goal with our products.

Whether you’ve been with us from the start, or if you’re just now joining us, one thing is for certain - we take environmental impact seriously. Our goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions and increase a sustainable future. All we need is you and your desire to buy locally from Evergreen Promotions. From purchasing Biodegradable, Reuse, Low Carbon, or Heirloom, we can’t wait to do business with you.

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