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February 12, 2009

Hey, whatcha got in that swag bag?


First of all, thank you all for your support. I’m grateful to everyone who left an encouraging comment on my Fark post. I’ll write more about it in my own comment on that post. Right now, I need to ask for your help again.

The annual Blogher Conference is coming up in July. Last year, it was held here in San Francisco. This year it will be in Chicago. But that’s not the only difference. After several of us bloggers made our green voices heard critiquing last year’s event, the organizers listened and have put together a Green Team for suggestions of how to make this year’s conference as eco-friendly as possible.

I’m happy to be a volunteer on the Blogher ’09 Green Team. We’ve already had one conference call and discussed all kinds of issues, from how to get attendees to the hotel from the airport using group transit to planning buffet-style menus requiring no disposable tableware.

One of the ways that conferences generate waste is through the give-aways that sponsors include in the swag bag that each attendee receives, as well as offerings at vendor booths. Sponsors are very important. They provide the necessary funds for creating the conference in the first place. But their promotional materials can be less than eco-friendly. This year, we’d like to offer the sponsors a list of useful suggestions for the types of items we can really use and that won’t just add to the mountains of cheap plastic junk and piles of paper already cluttering up our lives.

Who needs another plastic Michelin Man key chain?

Unfortunately, I’m out of ideas. So, if you have some, I’d love to hear them. We’ve thought of suggesting gift certificates and coupons instead of actual items, stainless steel water bottles, smaller items that can easily be packed in a suitcase since women will be traveling from all over the country. The conference attendees will include many, many moms as well as child-free women and even some men. What do you think? What kinds of gifts would you be thrilled to take home rather than leave behind in the swag recycling room? What kinds of offerings might actually get used rather than tossed in a closet and forgotten?

I don’t know who the sponsors are this year, but they might include computer hardware, software, web sites, car makers, children’s products, cosmetics, food & beverages, publishers, clothing, and any other kind of company that might want to sponsor a women bloggers’ event. So please help me brainstorm. No idea is too silly. I love the thought that we are helping companies to help us all be more green.


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