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The Case for Buying More-Expensive Client and Employee Gifts

The founder of apparel brand Patagonia makes an appeal that he hopes will resonate with business-gift and incentive-program buyers, among others: To save the planet, be more thoughtful and discerning with your product choices.

With holiday season in full swing, those responsible for procuring gifts for business clients and partners as well as top-performing employees are immersed in the task. But at least one corporate veteran with a direct link to the business-gifting industry warns that the choices made by corporate buyers can affect the planet’s health far more negatively than they might realize.

In a recent article in the New York Times titled “The High Stakes of Low Quality,” Yvon Chouinard, the founder and former owner of Patagonia, implores governments and individuals alike top pay more attention to the terrible environmental consequences of purchasing poor-quality products—the kind that that only a few years rather than decades, resulting in massive waste and pollution.

Here is some of what Chouinard writes in the article:

“Obsession with the latest tech gadgets drives open-pit mining for precious minerals. Demand for rubber continues to decimate rainforests. Turning these and other raw materials into final products releases 20 percent of all carbon emissions. The global inequality that benefits a relative few ensures that some of the poorest people and most vulnerable places bear the social and environmental costs of international trade.”

“Manufacturers and brands must shoulder much of the blame,” he writes, because of their products’ planned obsolescence or materials of inferior quality. As a result
, "products that could have been made to last a lifetime end up in landfills.”

“If we can embrace quality as the key to living more responsibly—such as choosing the carbon-steel knife that lasts decades over the stainless-steel one that must be replaced every two years—we might just get to keep the one thing we can’t toss out: Earth.”

This advice is not relevant only in holiday season or when incentive programs are being built out. Companies that participate in exhibitions and trade shows throughout the year would be wise to factor Chouinard’s thoughts into their booth-giveaway strategies. After all, products of better quality would be desirable for recipients while being better for the environment.

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