Like launching a diet on New Year’s Day, going green is one of those goals more frequently set than even partially achieved. At conferences and conventions, one of the ultimate sustainability sins is printing. No, not all of it. Unnecessary or unwanted printing. Knowing what to print, and what not to print, is half math and half gut. Today, we’re using both to give you our two cents.

Print This

laptop with badges

Name tags

Dale Carnegie taught us that there’s no sound sweeter to a person than the sound of their own name. We can safely assume that the same goes for the look of it in print. A printed name tag has a way of communicating to an event attendee that they were thought of in advance, that their name (and it’s spelling!) is important, and that they belong. For some name tag inspiration, check out our post on creative name tags.

girl with smartphone

A single, quality event schedule

Many will disagree with this in the age of digital schedules and white-labeled event apps. We get it. But on the long list of printed conference materials, the event guide is still among the most useful. Some attendees like the feeling of being able to circle sessions that interest them, or going screen-free while they dive into the content. A clear, pocket-sized booklet is still among event-goers’ most used items.

Not That

stack of pens

Cheap pens! (and other disposable swag.)

Here’s our litmus test for what qualifies as quality swag: if the item you’re planning to give away were lying on the sidewalk, would you be excited about picking it up? Chances are, you’d leave that ten-cent stick pen right where it is. But a flash drive in its package, or a brand new Moleskine journal? Most of us would grab them with glee. So next time you’re considering printing your logo on a few thousand cheap giveaways, ask yourself if you’d want it if it were offered to you.

TSA sign

Liquid-filled giveaways

If this category doesn’t seem obvious, it’s because it isn’t. And that’s precisely why it happens so frequently. TSA regulations limiting liquids to 3 ounces in a carry-on bag mean that any well-intentioned gift containing liquid is likely to be tossed at the airport (if it gets that far.) We’ve seen gorgeous snow globes abandoned in airport trash cans, and thoughtful jars of local jam pawned off to fellow travelers. Don’t let you cool idea get tossed. If it’s a liquid or a gel, steer clear.

barrels of taffy

Extras in Abundance

It only takes one glance around the abandoned ballroom after a trade show has wrapped to be appalled by waste. Likely to still be lining the tables: stacks and stacks of printed marketing collateral. Postcards, business cards, and flyers printed “just in case!” that now lay useless on crumb-covered tables. When printing items for a crowd, there’s a hierarchy of what will go first from your table. It won’t be everything. Instead, ask yourself what you would take from your table first. If you’re offering swag that carries a value of more than $3, it’s likely to run out first, so focus your printing budget there, followed by what’s truly informative (a core one-pager perhaps), and trailed by what is purely promotional (like that “follow us on Facebook!” postcard.)