How To Keep Your Back-To-School Promo Items Out Of The Landfill

Merch is meant to promote your brand, and it can't do that when it's sitting in a landfill. Ensure that your promo items are well-loved and well-used with these simple tips.

How To Keep Your Back-To-School Promo Items Out Of The Landfill

Fall is quickly approaching, and with it comes an annual shower of promotional products—branded pens, sunglasses backpacks, and t-shirts. Whether you are welcoming students to campus, onboarding new interns, giving your employees a seasonal pick-me-up, or heading to a conference, you are likely to be making some promotional merch this fall.

But here’s the hard truth: most of the promo products you make every year either go straight into the trash, or break in a matter of weeks and then find their way to the trash. This is a clearly a problem, for two reasons. First, promotional items are meant to promote your brand, which they can’t do particularly well in a landfill. Second, a lot of these items are made of plastic, or plastic-based textiles, meaning that not only will they end up in the landfill, they will remain there for thousands or millions of years. Inevitably, some of that plastic will end up in our soil, oceans, livestock, and water sources. And, it’s worth mentioning the astounding impact that the production of these plastic products has on our planet.

I’m here to convince you to think a little more carefully about which promo items you choose to produce this fall, and to invest in yourself and in our planet. Selecting items that people actually like, that last longer, and that have been created with sustainable practices would be a game changer for your marketing strategy—imagine what a great reception your product will receive when your audience finds out you took the extra step towards making it green! And, on top of that, you would be helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the promo industry.

It’s more simple than it seems. Every business-minded person knows the importance of a little market research, and that’s all it takes to figure out what promo items your audience wants. As an example, if you are part of a university wondering what products students want, just ask them! Survey a sample of students on what products they would likely use the most and use that as a guide. If you're still stuck and need some quick and reliable ideas, check out this list of the 5 best back-to-school promo items of 2022.

Then, when you are choosing a design for your product, enlist the help of students once again. You could create a design contest and have the winner be voted on by the public, or you could run your own ideas by a few trusted students. Whatever you choose to do, it’s not too difficult to use market input to help you reach an end product that will actually be used and enjoyed.

The next step after you have figured out what you want to produce is to be intentional about how you produce it. It is worth the extra investment to go for an organic cotton t-shirt instead of standard cotton, for example, or to make a metal water bottle instead of a plastic one. Not only will your product last longer, but you can advertise that your merch was sustainably made, and people might just start talking about it. A free t-shirt at freshman orientation is old news…but a free 100% biodegradable t-shirt? That’s a story waiting to happen.

Promotional product distributors that emphasize sustainability are becoming more and more common. The prices and timelines these distributors offer are competitive and they understand the necessity of creating a cost-effective product that lasts. If your intended merchandise includes any kind of clothing—hoodies, t-shirts, hats, socks, joggers, etc—you should look into Dhakai.

Dhakai helps you connect with manufacturers that have efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable practices. Dhakai works with factories that offer plastic-free and plant-based textiles so that you are able to easily craft a sustainable product that will elevate your marketing to the next level, and take your carbon footprint down a few notches.

It can seem like a big risk to start implementing sustainable practices. Many brand owners think it’s wildly expensive with a lower-quality end product, but this isn’t true. With Dhakai and other sustainable distributors, you are looking at competitive prices that you would see anywhere else. Your end product will likely be much higher quality, meaning it will give you a reputation of professionalism, responsibility, and attention to detail.

Take the leap and start producing your merch more sustainably. The earth (and your margins) will thank you.

If you are interested in working with Dhakai, reach out to us at You can also visit our website at or schedule a one-on-one consultation here.