Sustainable Corporate Event Gifts to Protect the Planet

Effective Business Events Blog   •  18th February 2020

AdobeStock 316268354 - Sustainable Corporate Event Gifts to Protect the Planet

Reflecting the values of your business at an event

Everyone loves a freebie – whether you are attending a conference, exhibition, party or visiting a hotel, historically we have all loved to get a bag full of pads, sweets, pens, stress balls, leaflets and shower gel – whether we need it or not!

Actions speak louder than words so in these environmentally friendly times opting for sustainable alternatives when selecting gifts reflects the values of your business and we pass this important message onto our clients when planning an event.

Many hotels have already taken a massive step in phasing out small individual plastic toiletries in bathrooms and replacing them with larger refillable wall mounted dispensers. However, there is still a lot to be done and corporate gifts have historically been very wasteful and harmful to the environment as many of them are never used, gather dust and eventually end up in landfill.

What can we as an event agency do to help at conferences?

We pride ourselves on thinking of the small details at events and are actively advising our clients to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

The registration desk will often be a guest’s first impression of an event. For years we ordered plastic domed name badges or lanyards with plastic wallets which looked impressive but both contain single use plastic. With a range of environmentally friendly name badges including wooden and recycled and also recycled lanyards, people are now more impressed by sustainability than the initial appearance of something like a name badge which will be disposed of at the end of the event.

Again, for years we ordered small branded bottles of water for trips and excursions. Guests love being handed an ice-cold bottle of water as they walked out of a sticky airport after a flight or board a bus for an excursion but now this is now frowned upon and many people feel awkward accepting single use plastic bottles. We are listening to this feedback and have turned it into a corporate gift by giving them branded re-usable water bottles and installing water machines during events. There is still a great choice available depending on the budget – aluminium for a higher priced gift or 100% recycled plastic can also be branded.

For a conference or exhibition when guests require pens and pads, wooden, bamboo and biodegradable pens are now available (and cost-effective!). There are options for notebooks too including those made from apple peel, vegetable fibres and sustainable pulp or recycled leather-bound or recycled cardboard covers containing recycled paper. When ordering such items, it is important to check that they not individual wrapped in plastic like they used to be, especially pens.

Which gifts are most environmentally friendly?

Firstly, branded cotton tote bags or jute bags can be kept and re-used regularly for supermarket shopping. Paper or cardboard bags are also appreciated and can be cheaper to brand than plastic bags.

Re-usable travel coffee cups are a great way to keep your company name fresh in your guest’s minds and are well used, particularly out and about and on public transport. These can either be aluminium or made of wheat straw fibre and PP plastic, which can be recycled at the end of its life.

If you wish to give something edible, then branded cupcakes, macaroons and brownies are a delicious and photogenic option (think of your brand being shown for free on Instagram!) as opposed to wrapped or bagged sweets.

The average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime – a lot of plastic! If staying in a hotel for an event, an environmentally friendly travel set including bamboo toothbrush is a good way to encourage non-electric toothbrush users to permanently switch to this greener option. You could also include bamboo cotton buds and natural soaps in a jute bag. Just a subtle way to make a difference in people’s future everyday lives.

As people like the idea of giving back to the environment, packs of seeds or a small tree (Christmas tree in the festive season!) to plant are a great idea. Branded corporate “sprout pencils” with dissolvable tips that contain seeds can be planted after use to grow into herbs, flowers, or vegetables and are again a novel idea which will remain in your guests minds, especially for people with families so they can teach children from a young age to re-plant trees and flowers and look after the planet.

Although these gift suggestions are better for the environment than the traditional pens, mouse mats and memory sticks they may still be wasteful if not used. So, if you want 100% sustainability, you could simply cut out the gifts completely and make a donation to charity. Pick a charity with a good cause and make sure your clients and guests know about your fundraising efforts helping the environment and reducing your carbon footprint.

Let us help you!

Whatever you decide to do, every little helps no small the contribution and your clients and guests will appreciate your efforts to protect the environment and will show that your business is relevant and not only aware of but responding to the current global issues.

For more ideas of making your event more environmentally friendly please see our previous blog –

If you would like more information and creative ideas how to hold sustainable corporate events then please contact us!

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