Dale Dougherty at O’Reilly captures the dilemma for conference organisers and the schwag bag. This something we’re wrestling with for GUADEC – we know that the majority of stuff given in schwag bags gets thrown away and we want to avoid that waste and drain on the environment. But we need a way to give sponsors some way of getting their material out to the attendees. The current idea is to replace the schwag bag with a usb key which contains all the conference materials (conference program, stuff from speakers, as well as sponsors material) and a simple printed timetable / program. However it’s a difficult trade off – if company X wants to be a cornerstone sponsor but insists on a wad of (paper) marketing material or branded doohickey to be distributed can we resist?
Aside: We realise of course that usb keys have an environmental impact, but the thinking is that since it is an intrinsically useful object it’s instantly recyclable. If you already have a higher storage, physically smaller, more stylish key already, feel free to simply hand it over to the first interesting person you meet in Birmingham, or take home to someone in need of portable storage.
Also saying that we’ll simply ‘put it on the usb key’ isn’t necessarily going to be easy. Someone needs to create a structure and design for that – the ability (possibly) for sponsors to brand their little subsection, the fact that they may not have web ready marketing material – whereas they may have print ready marketing material (or already have boxes of printed stuff for conferences). There are probably a million other problems with bucking the trend and trying to avoid paper marketing and other (primarily sponsor) related schwag bag contents.
Having said that we are a community conference, and we do have to provide ways for people to identify with our community, and as a conference ways for people to say ‘I was there’; T-shirts (both male and female styles), badges, stickers are what we’re thinking.