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PART III: Let your gift ripple on beyond the event

Beyond handing out a gift to commemorate an event or signify an organisation's commitment towards sustainability, corporations have the reach, financial prowess and the opportunity to empower a lasting positive impact, for their community and our planet.

The Current Stage: Wishful Corporate Gifting

As much as the climate crisis is in the news and on our social media every single day, and we've felt the rising heat even on our little island, we need to recognise that most people do not care enough to act on it, and need more than a nudge before they might consider opening their minds towards a new sustainable habit.

Often, corporations present the usual 'eco' gifts with the hope that the recipients will adopt sustainable habits by themselves to reduce their single use waste. However, since the start of the sustainability wave, most people have received numerous reusable mugs, lunchboxes, cutlery sets and cotton totes, many of which may have ended up being chucked deep into their cabinets, donated to Salvation Army or discarded in a declutter exercise years later.

As such, the good intentions may have literally gone to create more waste for our planet. In the last blog, we talked about choosing consumables instead of memorabilia as gifts. Beyond reducing waste by gifting consumables, how else can we ensure a longer lasting positive impact with the gifts? Imagine your gift helping your community change mindsets, habits, or even successfully set the right foot onto their personal sustainability journey.

Gift a Sustainable Mindset or better, a Sustainable Habit

Majority of your community likely do not care enough about the climate issues to have tried out #zerowasteswaps such as face and body soap bars, shampoo bars, detergent tablets, or detergent sheets on their own.

They may have preconceived ideas that these products may not be as effective, or as convenient, or may even have questions around how to use them. For example, most people view ALL soap bars as old fashioned, drying for the skin and doesn't work up to much lather, which are misconceptions. As such, these consumables make the perfect corporate gifts that provide your community with a low risk chance to trial at their own pace, thereby reducing barriers, and improving successful transition towards the new habits.

Perhaps the company can even go one step forward to arrange for sessions where existing #ecochampions within the organisations can have casual peer to peer sessions to share their own transition experience when they tried to adopt the new habits and their success stories.

Besides consumables, if company policy allows, shopping credits within a sustainable store can make a good gift, allowing the recipients to select items that are useful for themselves. This way, the likelihood of their chosen items being used it much higher. For ladies, they may have wanted to try out reusable female hygiene products which are not appropriate as direct gifts, and they can do so with shopping credits.

For soap bars, consider gifting them a full starter kit with not just a good soap bar, but also a good soap dish that can help make the swap a breeze and prevent premature drop-out from the new habit if they

My Naked Bar SureCan! Soap Bar Starter Kit
Gift a soap bar with a good soap dish to facilitate the successful transition and prevent premature dropout.

Facilitate the Habit in the Office

If a reusable lunch box was gifted, perhaps its having the leaders lead by example by truly embracing the culture of BYO, visibly. It'd also be important then to equip the pantry with cleaning agents so the staff can easily clean their BYO lunch box.

If reusable coffee mugs were gifted, perhaps all disposable cups should then be removed from the pantry. And at all office parties, staff will need to bring their own gifted cutleries/cups etc. The more these habits are being practiced, the higher chance of them becoming a norm.

Perhaps it's swapping out the liquid detergent in the pantry to a kitchen dish soap bar, so employees have the opportunity to experience how well the humble bar of kitchen soap lathers and cleanses, without drying their hands, especially good with eczema-prone skin.

So when you shortlist a sustainable gift for the community, go one step further to think, "What do we want the gift to empower?" ... beyond the event.

Inspire your Community to Act

Besides having the organisation leaders stepping forward to lead by example, perhaps the corporations can invite sustainability brand founders to answer questions around their products and share their founding stories to inspire real changes.

Another way to inspire is to engage the employees. For example, companies can participate in collection drives of used but clean milk cartons, chopsticks, plastic caps etc. which are then being used to turn into packaging or products. The relevant sustainability brands can showcase the transformation of the collected 'wastes' into their second lives via a company bazaar to demonstrate the full circularity.

My Naked Bar Soaps in Milk Carton Sleeves and Kraft Box
Can we introduce an element of circularity in corporate gifting?

The power of the corporate gift need not just stop at the event. With an open mind and being more intentional, the gift can truly be a game changer and ripple on the sustainability message, beyond the event, and perhaps even beyond the community.

With any gift, there will be waste. However if we can inspire more of our community to step forward in the right direction with the gift, that is what we call impact positive gifting.

If you'd like to chat with us further about bring impact positive gifting into your organisation, reach out to us.


About the Writer

The writer is the founder behind local vegan soap label, My Naked Bar. She founded the brand with hopes of advocating a happier planet for our children and our next generations.

What started off as a low waste handmade gift for her children’s teachers’ day gift became a hobby that turned into a passion career to advocate a low waste lifestyle. Perturbed by the fact that most people around her show a lack of concern over our climate issues, she set out to raise awareness through the brand in a fun and approachable way by collecting used milk cartons from the community, then upcycling them into packaging for her soap bars. #soapsinmilkcartons

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