Last weekend, five of the GROWL mentors at the Global Legal Hackathon in New York, not only limited their innovative ideas to the legaltech scope. Based on a discussion about the overuse of vendor swag at conferences, the mentors Clare Godson, Executive Director, aosphere, Heather McAuliffe, KM Manager, Morrison & Foerster, Anna McGrane, Cofounder, Ann Björk, Cofounder, Virtual Intelligence VQ and Shruti Cogny, CEO, KnomAI, decided to launch a campaign called #gagtheswag to try and encourage an end to pointless conference swag that has no impact on buying decisions and is harmful to the environment. (Read for example the article “It’s time to stop spending billions on cheap conference swag” by Elizabeth Segran for more discussions about the negative environmental aspects.)
The goal of the campaign is to decrease the use of unnecessary swag and thereby to cut the carbon footprint produced by conference swag, reduce waste and encourage a focus on meaningful conversations with vendors at conferences. After all, conferences are about learning new things and building relationships and – not about plastic knick knacks… There are a lot of good eco-friendly alternatives to conference freebies, such as e-gift cards, donations to charity or planting of trees for business card provided, contributions to ecological agencies and associations, and actually letting the product or service do the selling by making great demos.
To join the campaign, vendors and attendees pledge to not provide or take any conference swag and ask that conferences ban swag from their events.
See this leaflet for more information: #gagtheswag
The campaign has two options for the pledge, depending on how fast the conference organisers feel that they can move in the eco-friendly direction:
“We will not provide/accept conference swag and we ask that the conferences we support ban conference swag.”
“We pledge to only provide/accept environmentally and socially responsible, 100% recyclable swag and ask that the conferences we attend require this.”
Hopefully, more and more conferences, vendors and attendees will follow suit, and we will try to take a first step in that direction at our own conference, VQ Forum, in October.
More info will also come on the new web site, so stay tuned for that! Let’s clean the environment one conference at a time!