Gifts with a message
Some of the top companies have come up with creative and useful ideas for their new year's gifts and souvenirs.
Like other merchandisers who try to offer the most creative New Year gifts to catch the buyers' attention, corporates each year have to come up with creative gifts and souvenirs for their clients and associates.
For 2013, besides baskets of edible items, fruits and food, some companies have demonstrated through their gifts and souvenirs their grave concern for our environment.
For instance, the calendar of PTT Global Chemical shows that they can be more than paper sheets that we place on our desks and toss away at the end of the year.
Like conventional items, PTTGC's calendar - themed "More to Life" - also contains sheets of paper. But behind the months and dates are useful ideas to find true happiness. At the back of every leaf are a number of useful things, which can be cut out for actual use. For instance, on the back of the leaf for January is a bookmark that makes the suggestion we should learn something new every day as learning can happen anywhere and anytime. On the back of the February sheet is an item around which earphone cords can be tidily wrapped around to avoid tangling in your bags. This comes with the idea that a well-written and composed song can inspire people. "Listening to music can free us from the outside chaotic world and boost your immune system," it says.
According to a company official, the production cost of this calendar is about 30 per cent higher than the cost of conventional calendars.
Useful guidelines on how to live our lives harmoniously amid the changing environment can be found in Glow Group's diary themed "Everyday sustainable living". With the belief that "sustainability begins with you", the energy powerhouse offers ideas on how we can help save energy and water as well as reuse items and protect our environment.
"We can create many good things for our planet in one day. You can easily begin by making changes or quitting something that you like or are familiar with," it says.
To save energy, everyone is urged to set air-conditioner temperature at 25 degrees Celsius or turn it off when the weather is not too hot. Computer screens should be turned off when you will be away from your computer for a long while, as the screen saver does not help save energy. This will also extend the lifespan of your computer screen.
To save water, the size of the washing machine should match the number of family members and it should be used only when you have plenty of dirty clothes to put in. If you can't replace your flush toilet with a water-saving one, a brick or capped water-filled plastic bottle should be put in the water tank, to reduce the amount of flush water.
To keep the world green, natural methods are advised like feeding your trees with organic fertilisers, checking your work on computer screen instead of printing it on paper, and sorting out waste to reduce greenhouse gas.
At the end, all are recommended to donate used calendars to the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, to support its "Third Page of Paper" project for Braille letters printing.
Accolades should also go to Siam Cement Group (SCG), the country's largest cement manufacturer with an annual capacity of 24 million tonnes. With that capacity, tonnes of cement bags are tossed away each year. Listed as the World Sector Leader in Building Materials and Fixtures sector by DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes) for the second consecutive year in 2012, SCG is promoting recycling of the cement bags. The bags are turned into usable handbags, in the same way used bicycle tyres are the foundation of the famous Swiss "Freitag" brand's success.
PTT, the country's largest national oil and gas company, is not one to be left behind. Under its commitment to society and community, PTT is committed to be "a good corporate citizen to protect the environment and improve the quality of life of the communities". This year, its souvenir is a mobile radio, powered by a small built-in dynamo. With the built-in hand to wind up the dynamo, the radio works wonderfully, in an environmentally friendly way.
Under the "Unilever Sustainable Living Plan", the consumer products giant has come out with a creative way to present New Year gifts. Committed to reducing half of the waste and packaging by 2020, the company this year handed out consumer products in an environmentally friendly bag. Entirely made of natural materials, this jute bag promises a natural way of disposal.
These are just some ideas seen in some of the gifts this year. Given the higher frequency of natural disasters, these companies should not feel offended if their ideas are replicated. Just one remark: too many gifts, regardless of the nature of the materials used, could also harm the environment in some way.