We’re all feeling the pressure to “go green” these days, and much of the stuff we’ve written at Bags of Ideas has an eco-friendly focus.
We’ve suggested lots of ways to help you avoid single use printed plastic bags as part of your promotional efforts, and to ensure you can do your bit for the environment and encourage others.
But one option we’ve not studied so far is perhaps the greenest of all: the promotional paper bag printed with a logo. We’ve left it until now, so that we can give it a blog of its own to allow us time to list in detail what makes a printed paper gift bag such a great marketing tool.
In this article we aim to highlight the reasons why paper is a more sustainable alternative to single use plastic, as well as school you in the available options, and why they can be a great promotional tool beyond supermarket use, especially with creative, full-colour designs, with high quality results.
Brown paper bags are the weapon of choice for shoppers in US supermarkets, but they’re not widely used this side of the pond.
Studies of the carbon footprint of various materials show, perhaps surprisingly, that paper has a higher initial footprint than plastic. In practise however, the overall value is dependent on its utilisation afterwards.
We’ve already seen that even if people have to pay for a “single use” bag, they are unlikely to re-use them. In most cases plastic bags ¬– even the Bag-for-Life variety – is usually destined to become a bin liner and end up in landfill.
What makes paper the choice for an eco-bag is its decomposition time – on average three to five months. The corresponding figure for plastic is a minimum of 10 years and often much more. Add to this the fact that the bag may be made from recycled paper, and the real impact on its carbon footprint becomes clear.
Landfill – and the lack of it – is among one of the biggest environmental problems the UK faces, so switching from plastic to paper could help massively reduce the damage we’re doing to the planet.
Practically speaking, the question “how quickly do they decompose” is unlikely to be first on the list of reasons for choosing a bag for your promotional campaign or retail store. We should instead be asking: “How many times can this be re-used?”
The terms “durable” and “paper bag” don’t generally fit into the same sentence, and this is one of the reasons why large paper bags aren’t so popular in the UK. With our weather, the bottom is likely to drop out of your world if they get the slightest bit wet.
But there are durable paper options, which will last beyond a single use, which could not only help minimise the environmental impact, but guarantee a better reach for your logo when it’s printed on the side.
Introducing the laminated paper bag – a.k.a. the luxury gift bag – or rope-handled paper bag. As the name suggests, these bags are not only made from paper (the thickness of which can be chosen to suit their purpose), but they have a laminated, gloss or matt surface.
The first benefit to this style of bag is the weight of the material. Single use paper folding brown bags – Kraft bags – are generally made from a thin paper.
The rope-handled gift style printed bags are manufactured from a more robust, heavier card, ensuring they are stronger, more rigid and better able to cope with the rigours of day-to-do use. In addition, the handles are normally made from rope, again the thickness can be chosen, guaranteeing a much longer life span than those with the paper handles; imagine the scenario – wet hands and paper handles, a recipe for disaster.
From a marketing perspective, the promotional gift bag gives a level customisation not achievable with any other material, which can be delivered within a normal time frame.
Think of a promotional paper bag as a blank canvas, which can be designed to your exact requirement. You choose the size of the customised paper bag (either from a large list of templates or even bespoke dimensions). You can also specify the thickness of the material, so if you want something special, it’s yours for the asking. Best of all, the bag’s base colour can be matched to any pantone you desire, meaning you can match your brand identity.
Because high-quality promotional gift bags are printed flat, you can be creative with your designs. Edge to edge printing is possible, and designs that go from one side to the other are possible without additional cost or time. Even full colour prints are easily achievable, offering the upmost in creative potential.
Even the handles can be personalised, from the material – possibly rope or ribbon – to the colour, thickness and length required. Even the position of the holes is yours to command.
With so many branding options for, the not-so-humble coloured paper gift bag can do wonders for your organisation as a promotional tool. The fact it portrays luxury with its boutique printing, coupled with durability, means it will be re-used.
In some cases, printed paper bags with a luxury brand logos are used as a status fashion item – with consumers showing their pride in where they’ve shopped.
Currently, this style of bag is mainly used in high-street retail such as clothing and cosmetics. But at Bags of Ideas we believe a bag with so much flexibility, offering a luxury look at a low cost, and which encourages consumer re-use, should be considered further afield.
The benefits are clear – not only is the environmental impact reduced with the re-use, but it can also work wonders for your brand visibility and perceived image, adding strength and encouraging consumer confidence and loyalty.