I'm sure most of you have attended events or conferences which give out little gifts to the attendees. The gifts are usually something that bears the name or logo of whatever institution is hosting the event. I don't intend to be ungrateful, and I appreciate the intention behind the gifts, but I'm unhappy about the harmful effects of these gifts on the environment and on our quality of life.
Jon now has regular speaking engagements and he always comes home with something: tote bags, tee shirts, water bottles, key chains, ID fobs, pens, tiny reading lights, spiral notebooks, coffee mugs, nylon braided bracelets, etc. Kon Mari would tell me to get rid of these, but they're not mine to dispose of. (OK, I have snuck a couple of the tote bags out to the Goodwill but I don't want to face the day when Jon says, "Where is my Aircare 5 nylon braided bracelet? Did you throw it away?") Any major event that my employer hosts - the employee picnic and the like - has some kind of swag. I once went to a conference with over 10,000 attendees at which everyone received a large messenger bag. (I think I heard that this company no longer gives out swag, but I would have to confirm that. I do know that they stopped serving bottled water at their conferences and instead provide small cardboard cartons of water.)
It's so dispiriting to have this constant stream of stuff coming into the house, not to mention the fact that every time I see swag being given out, I think of all the waste and pollution that its manufacture caused. Follow the #conferenceswag or #eventswag hashtags on Instagram and you will find nearly 2,000 posts. And yes, reusable water bottles are environmentally responsible, but not when you own fifteen of them. There is such an excess of stuff in our society. Enough of this insanity.
Jon did a lecture at an event this weekend and the swag was a container of peanuts. The container's label had the university logo, but otherwise it was no different from peanuts that you might buy at the grocery store anyway. How perfect. If you must give out swag, why not have it be something consumable - not necessarily peanuts - rather than plastic that will clutter our houses and landfills? And look into getting boxed water instead of plastic bottles if you MUST have single-use drink containers.
I realize this is a minor issue compared to, say, the disgusting rape culture in the US, our deep-seated racism, or the fact that many thousands of Americans would like to elect a deranged man to the presidency. However, I think it's a real problem that needs to be addressed.
What do you think? Does event swag bug you as much as it does me?