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12 Eco-Friendly Giveaway Ideas for Your Next Exhibition


While giveaways and merchandise are still an ever-popular tool for engaging with your audience at trade shows and events, we’re all becoming a lot more mindful of the impact that these giveaways can have on the environment. Increasingly more and more businesses are now keen to stay away from “gimmicky” style giveaways that often end up in a landfill in favor of items that are eco-friendly and can have a positive impact on the environment.

As a sustainable brand ourselves who are always on the lookout for ideas to make exhibitions kinder to the environment, here’s a run-down of our current favorite eco-friendly merchandise ideas.

Sow and grow kitPlants as giveaways are a really popular choice in general, especially those that can be branded and popped on the recipient’s work desk as a constant reminder of your company. However, if you’re worried about how they might travel – especially if you’re planning an exhibition or event abroad – then these sow and grow kits are an ideal giveaway to show your green credentials. Filled with seeds and soil coins, they can be easily grown out of their pouches with a variety of seed options including cottage garden mix, mixed herbs, a sunflower or even a Christmas tree if you’re after something a little more festive!

Eco-friendly packaged sweetsSweets as a giveaway are always going to be well received, however a lot of sweets often come in single use packaging. Therefore if you’re keen to follow the sweet route, look out for ones that come in recycled or even compostable packaging. The packaging for these sweets from Arcadia will compost down in under 12 weeks!

Eco-friendly cutleryWith many food outlets such as McDonalds, Disney and Waitrose doing away with single use cutlery in their stores, people are increasingly needing to keep their own set of cutlery on hand. That’s what makes this giveaway such an ideal option, as it’s something that many people won’t have but actually do really need. If your brand isn’t food related, consider trying this travel cutlery in with something edible so that it makes logical sense.

Seeded paper bagsBranded bags are a great way to get your company’s name out there, as trade show attendees make their way around the rest of the event and their way home after. However, they can obviously have a negative impact on the environment, which is why so many brands turn to recycled or recyclable bags instead. Why not take it one step further and use seeded paper bags that can be planted once you’re finished with them? As the bag degrades, the seeds germinate and shortly after flowers will grow!

Seed sticksWith a large surface area giving you plenty of branding opportunity, these seed sticks are a classic and reasonably priced eco-friendly option, with a variety of different seed options available so you can tailor the choice of plant more to your company or particular campaign.

Branded beeswax wrapsDepending on if it suits your particular industry, beeswax wraps are another great eco-friendly option for a giveaway. As a large surface that can be fully branded, these will likely be used on a regular basis by the recipient, when they wrap up leftover food or take their sandwich in for lunch. It’s definitely a good talking point and if branded thoughtfully, could really win your company some green brownie points!

Glass and bamboo tea infuserWith many other companies already offering reusable coffee cups, why not try something a little different like this glass and bamboo tea infuser? Not only does it look and feel premium, it will help you stand out more from the crowd!

Solar powered chargerAppeal to your more outdoorsy customers with this clever solar powered portable charger, perfect for the summertime and concert season too.

Jute and twill tote bagsAs more companies are giving away reusable canvas bags, we can all be guilty of building up a backlog that we don’t actually use. With this in mind, if you would like to give out a tote bag ensure yours is the one they reach for time and time again by buying higher quality, modern versions. If cost is an issue, we recommend buying fewer, better tote bags and really taking time to consider who you’re giving them to and whether you realistically feel they will turn into a customer, modern twill jute shopper tote for an eco-friendly giveaway.

Glass water bottle with wooden lidChoose a bottle that reflects your brand personality in a modern and cool way, while also ensuring it is environmentally friendly. This glass version with a wooden lid is a particular favorite of ours.

Seedballs matchboxesHaving already used these as promotional giveaways ourselves, this lovely company creates small matchboxes that hold ‘seedballs’ containing your choice of wildflower seeds. You simply scatter them onto bare soil or compost and with rain and watering, they grow into beautiful flowers that attract and protect bees and butterflies. The packaging can also be fully branded with a design of your choice.

Sprout pencilAn innovative idea that still offers a lot of space for branding and getting your company’s message across, Sprout pencils can be used for writing and drawing… and then when you’re finished, you can plant them into the ground or a nearby plant pot and let them grow. With seed options ranging from basil and coriander to daisies and forget-me-nots, there’s lots of different options to suit your brand.

Click here to watch our webinar: New Ideas for Trade Show Giveaways on-demand.

Top things to consider when choosing eco-friendly giveawaysWhen considering merchandise for an upcoming exhibition or event, we recommend thinking through the following things to ensure you are keeping the impact on the environment front of mind:

  • Think of the potential lifespan of an idea you might have – how long do you really think it will be used? Is it likely to be passed onto other family members?
  • Is it an item you think they need and will come in handy in their day to day lives?
  • Is the item of a good enough quality that they will want to use?
  • Just because something falls in the eco-friendly bucket, like tote bags and bottles, if the quality isn’t good enough these may well be relegated to the trash can. Many companies now give out these types of items and while they are useful, there will come a point when someone might just have too many of them. If you choose to follow this route, make sure it’s your ones they prefer to use over others.
  • Will the recipient actually want that item with your branding on it? Think carefully about which items you’re branding. Some things lend themselves to being nicely branded by your company but other items might feel a little strange branded. In cases like these think about discreet ways you can do this, whether that’s by using smaller logos, branded linings or placing the item inside branded packaging instead.

If you’re in need of further inspiration for choosing the best giveaways for your company, read our 5 simple rules for great trade show giveaways. Alternatively, if you’re seeking out other ways to make your next show truly sustainable, read our blog on how to make your trade show booth eco-friendly.

Getting Booth Visitors Via Online & Social Promotions White Paper

In this book Skyline has compiled 26 blog posts originally published in the Skyline Trade Show Tips blog. The posts combine information about social media tools and tactics, pre- and at-show promotions, digital marketing tools and general marketing tips.

From experienced trade show consultants, traditional marketers and digital marketing practitioners, these authors know Trade Shows and how to leverage modern marketing tools to help draw new and returning visitors to your trade show or event.

About the Author

Lucy Springett is the Marketing Manager at Skyline Whitespace, located in Wimbledon, London, England. She has experience in digital marketing, brand management and governance, project management, email marketing, web and graphic Design, UX and managing events. Lucy earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Film, Television and Digital Production (Media Arts) at Royal Holloway, University of London.

One response to “12 Eco-Friendly Giveaway Ideas for Your Next Exhibition

  1. I like most of the ideas, but I’m super-concerned about the plant/seed-based gifts. Many locations/countries with agriculture industries prohibit import of seeds and plants, so as not to spread diseases, and hand-carrying these items, some of which might be discarded into the waste stream and environment while traveling or at destination, can endanger agriculture. Also, planting unknown seeds is one unfortunate way invasive species spread, choking out native species. Please readers, only plant seeds whose origins and habitat you are familiar with! Otherwise, great ideas!

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