Feature Article - March/April 2008

Green Motivations

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Merchandise Into Your Program

By Emily Tipping

Green Brands

Once you are ready to move into eco-friendly rewards, you can start by learning more about the green initiatives of the brands your program offers. As green becomes the new thing, brands are certainly responding. Slockbower said that Rymax alone works with 15 brands that incorporate environmentally friendly practices, involving many kinds of initiatives, from restricting use of hazardous substances to conserving energy and reducing pollution.

While no conclusive list is available, here are some brands of note that have taken action within their companies to green up their internal practices, as well as the manufacturing of their products. You can highlight some of their practices as you communicate with participants about your program:

Apple Inc.: The now-ubiquitous iPod—always a reward and incentive favorite—offers a chance to highlight several of Apple's eco-friendly practices. The company aims to reduce packaging, and in fact, the packaging of iPod Classic now consumes 35 percent less weight and 82 percent less volume than the first-generation iPod. All iPods are also globally compliant with the restrictions of hazardous substances requirements (RoHS). iPod and iPhone power adapters also exceed Energy Star efficiency requirements and already meet California's stricter efficiency regulations, which do not take effect until July 1, 2008. Apple offers a free recycling program that will take back iPods and cell phones—regardless of manufacturer or model. Finally, Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in its products by the end of this year, and the company's restricted substances program limits the use of heavy metals and ozone-depleting substances in its products and manufacturing processes.

Canon: Canon also has a strong environmental stance, incorporating manufacturing and business practices that aim to reduce energy use, conserve resources and eliminate hazardous substances, from procurement of raw materials through a commitment to the Energy Star program and recycling of certain consumer products.

The Coleman Company Inc.: Part of taking care of the environment is encouraging people to get outside and learn more about the world around them. In that respect, Coleman, which makes outdoor gear of all kinds, from tents and sleeping bags to coolers and tailgating gear, is a standout, supporting advocacy groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the Continental Divide Trail Alliance. Coleman also recently partnered with New York City to kick off a project that aims to plant a million trees throughout the five boroughs over the next 10 years. The project intends to increase New York's urban forest, made up of street trees, park trees and trees on public and commercial land, by 20 percent, helping to achieve environmental and quality-of-life benefits.

Denon Electronics: This manufacturer of high-quality home entertainment products ensures that all products marketed within the United States are compliant with RoHS, which effectively eliminates heavy metals from the products and their manufacturing process.

Hartmann: This leather and travel goods manufacturer has employed environmentally friendly business practices, such as recycling wastepaper and ink cartridges, and offering flexible schedules for employee carpooling and home office solutions.