In the ever-evolving world of promotional products and sustainability, attending the PPAI's 2023 Product Responsibility Summit was an exciting experience for Storm Creek. This was our first year participating in the summit, and we were thrilled to join a community of suppliers, distributors, and subject matter experts who shared a common goal: a commitment to becoming better and more educated in the realm of product responsibility and sustainability. The atmosphere was one of collaboration and openness, where we all felt comfortable sharing, being honest, and learning from one another.
The summit covered a wide range of topics, some of which we were already closely familiar with and actively addressing, such as the growing concern over PFAS. However, we also discussed other topics that we have only just skimmed the surface on like GHG (greenhouse gas) accounting.
Storm Creek was honored to sponsor the apparel for the 150 participants at the summit. We ensured that the product we provided not only represented our personal mission of creating long-lasting, fashion-forward clothing that will become a wardrobe favorite, but also our eco story. The Maverick Button-Up uses 14 recycled bottles per garment (that’s 2,100 bottles upcycled from this event alone!) helping keep plastic waste out of our oceans and landfills.
Panel Discussion – Complete Business Sustainability
One of the most fun and nerve-wracking surprise of the summit was our CEO Teresa Fudenberg being asked to speak on a panel discussion about Complete Business Sustainability.
The panel was moderated by PPAI’s director of Sustainability & Responsibility, Elizabeth Wimbush, and we also shared the stage with Denise Taschereau, the owner of Fairware Promotional Products in Vancouver. It was an opportunity to speak more holistically, not just about product responsibility but also corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Teresa and Storm Creek are passionate about the mission of improving sustainability efforts across all facets of business. This panel gave us the opportunity to highlight how we seamlessly integrate our corporate sustainability and responsibility initiatives into our daily operations.
For instance, through our Sustainability School, we aim to educate all of our channels on the essential knowledge needed to make a positive impact with their purchases, especially considering that the apparel industry ranks as the second most polluting industry globally (United Nations).
During the panel discussion, we also tackled a common question: how to effectively sell sustainability to senior executives. Both Teresa and Denise provided insightful suggestions, and here are three key approaches:
- Leverage the Power of Statistics: In the realm of sustainability, statistics are your best friend. There is an abundance of information available that strongly supports the case for purchasing sustainably made items. It's crucial to start researching and compile a comprehensive statistics bank. This repository will be your go-to resource, enabling you to back your arguments with concrete data.
- Craft a Compelling ROI Statement: In the corporate world, return on investment (ROI) is a language that senior executives speak fluently. To make a persuasive case, you need to provide an ROI statement that outlines the financial benefits of investing in sustainable products. Emphasize that products marketed as sustainable have the potential to grow 5.6x faster than conventionally-marketed products (NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business).
- Highlight the Competitive Edge: In addition to statistics and ROI, consider emphasizing the competitive edge that sustainability brings. Explain how sustainable practices can enhance brand reputation, attract environmentally conscious consumers, and ultimately contribute to long-term business success. Sustainability isn't just a moral choice; it's a strategic advantage in today's market.
It was great to see that many members of the audience found benefit in what the three of us shared and left with excitement to begin their sustainability journey.
The Road Ahead
We were gratified to discover that the global goals outlined during the summit align with the principles we've long embraced at Storm Creek; however, we recognize that there's still work to be done.
We are constantly striving for better so we were happy to learn about various online resources, free audit tools, and new sources of information that will help us tackle our upcoming to-dos and challenges.
As a supplier, we're committed to assisting distributors who are increasingly asked to uphold and prove their commitment to product and corporate responsibility. We are eager to delve further into the issues that face our industry and the world.
Our experience at PPAI's 2023 Product Responsibility Summit was enlightening and inspiring. We've not only reaffirmed our commitment to sustainability but also gained a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the promotional products industry. We are excited to continue our journey towards a more responsible and eco-friendly future.