It’s ok to admit it. One of the perks of being a conference attendee is getting cool free stuff on the exhibition floor, right? Whether it’s food samples or supplies or free and stylish company gear, conference swag can be fun when it’s well thought out and environmentally sound.
Providing attendees with useful and high quality items that promote an eco-friendly and socially conscious lifestyle like the ones listed below will likely make a positive impression. The key is to be creative and aim for items made from recycled, organic, and/or biodegradable materials that are energy saving and/or reusable—thus avoiding them ending up in landfills as waste.
“Freebies” a.k.a. swag may seem like a minor detail, but it’s an opportunity to create a truly memorable event experience. The term “swag” dates back to the 1960s and is event-planning lingo for stuff event goers get for free like promotional T-shirts, pens, key chains, water bottles, etc. Unfortunately, all too often, these items are not valued by the attendees and end up in landfills.
In keeping our commitment to promote sustainability and eliminate wasteful practices, here are some environmentally friendly swag ideas conference attendees will appreciate long after the conference is over.
✓ Reusable All Purpose Tote Bags. Want to make sure everyone sees your logo at the conference? Give out attractive and eco-friendly reusable bags for them to store their goodies in. Reusable bags tend to be low cost, are environmentally friendly and functional. Not to mention, their useage will long outlive the convention and will likely be used again and again.
✓ Personal travel-sized items. It’s likely your attendees have traveled to be at the conference. Why not provide them with goodies to make them more comfortable at your event? Items like hand sanitizer, breath mints, soaps and even chapstick can go a long way with attendees at a networking event. Numerous promotional companies offer these and other personal items in eco-friendly packaging.
✓ Reusable lunch coolers. Encourage attendees and VIPS to cut back on waste AND increase brand awareness with functional, reusable lunch coolers made from sustainable materials. Chances are they will get thousands of impressions since they will probably wind up in the office refrigerator on a regular basis.
✓ Plant/Herb Kits & Seed Packets. Giving out promotional items that are meant to be planted are a wonderful way for a company to spread awareness and stay true to their eco friendly values. You are literally planting the seeds of customer loyalty! Look for sustainable flower or herbal kits and seeds that will encourage attendees to return home and plant in their own homes.
✓ Eco Friendly Notebooks & Journals. Yes, yes, we know…the goal is to cut back on waste. But the reality is even with all of the technology available to conference goers, attendees still prefer to jot down their notes and ideas the old fashioned way. Providing branded notebooks made from recycled materials to convention goers is a great way to get their attention and appreciation.
✓ BPA Free Reusable Water Bottles. Good quality reusable water bottles are some of the popular swag items we see at conferences. Like reusable bags, they are a great way to make sure your logo is seen everywhere throughout the conference AND they are super convenient. Not to mention reusable water bottles cut down on waste (we like that!) and will be used long after the conference is over.
✓ Fair Trade Food Items. Food and beverage items do not have the shelf life that some of the other items mentioned have, but when done right, they can leave a lasting and positive impression. For one thing, everyone loves free food. Especially when they have been traveling or have gone for long periods of time without eating. Also, providing edible items can be a very social experience and a great way to bring people to your booth and chat! Consider giving out fair trade food items in attractive, eco friendly packaging that guests can either consume or give away as gifts, etc. Be sure to feature your event logo in the food packaging if possible!
Above all else, understand WHO your attendees are and WHAT they need, then provide a creative solution in the form of a a sustainable freebie they can actually use and appreciate. Anticipate what your conference goers will want or need during and after the conference.