The Economics of Ecological
Despite a loss in momentum since arriving full force a few years ago, the green movement is very much alive. In the promotional products industry, the green interests of end-users have led to an increase in eco-friendly products. According to Howard Headden, vice president of key accounts for Ash City USA, Lenexa, Kan., going green "resonates a lot more ... as we evolve and go forward." The green growth of the industry is evident on supplier websites, most of which now offer a section of eco products. Though the industry has come a long way since the beginning of the green movement, there is still a long way to go.
SOURCING NATURAL RESOURCES
The green movement entered the mainstream in late 2007 as celebrities and activists united to promote the importance of preserving the Earth. Ash City USA began selling ecological products shortly before the trend took hold in the United States—a decision driven by the company's Canadian roots. "Ash City Worldwide, the parent company of Ash City USA, is located in Richmond Hill, Ontario," explained Headden. "Canadians are a little ahead of the United States in both fashion trends and … worldwide trends," he said. The company's Canadian counterparts helped them find a market for green apparel by introducing a brand-new environmentally sound fabric. The fabric, a hybrid of bamboo and recycled polyester, uses the natural properties of bamboo to retain the antimicrobial feature, as well as UVA-protecting and moisture-wicking traits that are expected of performance apparel. This use of natural sources shows the kind of thinking companies are employing as they enter the green realm.
In addition to supplying green products, Ash City USA has implemented green business practices. For example, in its corporate offices, Ash City USA uses a water reclamation system that collects all of the rain water to help irrigate its landscape. If tax benefits exist for eco-friendly practices, Headden said they are not the motivation for Ash City USA's green business. For Headden, it is a matter of corporate initiative, which makes him "proud as an employee." Yet, being eco-friendly does come with a cost.