When attending conferences, you know what you’ll bring home: lots of cool gadgets and useful giveaways!
Or is it? What are your thoughts?
We wanted to do something different. But what do you do when you’re an exhibitor going to the 4meConnect23, or any other, conference where you’re expected to bring giveaways for the participants?
We had to think outside the box. And we came up with an idea far from logo-filled umbrellas, pens, mugs, drinking bottles, etc.
Our goal: Making a positive impact
Let’s start by acknowledging that we’ve been to many conferences, where we’ve brought some of the aforementioned items. Because that’s how you’re supposed to do, right?
This article isn’t about putting us on a pedestal but merely discussing how we, as conference people, can align ourselves with the broader societal concerns regarding environmental impact. It’s an invitation to explore different ways in which we can make a positive difference and contribute to a greater cause.
We’re witnessing a general shift in employees’ mindsets when it comes to gifts from their employers. It’s e.g., increasingly popular for employees to choose donations to charity organizations for Christmas gifts rather than traditional products when that choice is possible.
To be clear, we don’t see ourselves as some live-saving green frontrunners. However, we are eager to take even more steps toward a greener future.
What was on the mood board?
The purpose of our giveaway was to do something different. If it could be a fun gimmick while also being more sustainable than traditional giveaways, we had a perfect match.
But how do we define a positive impact on sustainability in the context of conference gifts?
One of the ideas on the mood board was high-quality gifts that last a long time. However, that wasn’t feasible due to the associated cost, as price and quality often go hand in hand, and we needed to buy many items.
Another idea was gifts made from recycled materials, such as notebooks made from recycled paper or drinking bottles made from recycled plastic. Lovely gifts, but they didn’t make us stand out which was our ambition on this occasion.
Gift cards for courses that we consider important were also on the mood board. We could then draw lots for a First Aid course for a team of 20 employees or something similar.
Direct donations to non-profit organizations were also considered.
As you might imagine, our mood board was filled with great suggestions, but one idea stood out among the rest, getting the majority of votes.
The million-dollar question: what idea did we end up with?
We’re supporting Klimatræ, a Danish organization dedicated to create more Danish woods by planting trees. A mission we’re very fond of. We love the idea that a tree is a gift for the future and helps create a better climate and environment.
We came up with the idea to give the participants the chance to plant their own trees. All they had to do was find our booth and register using our “Plant a Tree” online form. That’s it. Then we would plant a tree for them together with Klimatræ.
Each participant at 4meConnect23 received a bag with giveaways upon entering the conference, and inside, we included handwritten cardboards that was repurposed from an old box that was on its way to the recycle station anyway.
Writing all the cardboards took time, but it was definitely worth it. It became an internal team effort, where most colleagues joined the handwriting and cutting production areas.
How was the gift received?
It’s fair to say that our “plant a tree” gift became a conversation starter and a success at the conference.
A majority of the participants signed up to become tree owners, contributing to the mission of planting more woods in Denmark.
Each tree (the kind we’re planting) will absorb 21 kilograms of C02 from the air every year and convert it to oxygen, making a tangible impact.
We’re delighted that our gimmick was well received, bringing both laughter and support for a worthy cause.
We can all agree that our initiative is a small step. But we firmly believe that it’s a small step in the right direction.
To finish off with answering the question; We, as conference people, should strive to do something different. Whether it’s beneficial for our future environment or serves another purpose, let’s celebrate those endeavors.
This is just one of the many good solutions available, enabling us to stand out and contribute to a greater cause.