#GAGtheSWAG – The Campaign to Stop Wasteful Conference Swag

Ever noticed how much complete junk is handed out at legal tech conferences? Did you really want that tote bag? The miniature Rubik’s cube key ring? The glossy brochures that will go straight in the bin as soon as you get home? Nope, probably not. But, now you can do something about it and join the campaign to: GAGtheSWAG!

The campaign, which has just started, aims to stamp out the wasteful production and consumption of conference ‘marketing stuff’ that arguably creates additional environmental harm to the planet.

And, it has to be said, there is something a bit bizarre about walking around a legal tech conference with cutting edge digital technology experts everywhere handing out wads of paper and giving away plastic pens that are also designed to write on paper.

Moreover, who needs another novelty plastic USB key drive handed out by someone you’ve never met before…(they’re a security risk anyway….)? Or anything else you will never ever use again, if even once…..you get the idea. What a colossal waste of materials, energy and money, with much of what is handed out made from non-recyclable materials.

It’s all a bit crazy when you stand back and think about it, especially for a legal tech conference. So, a group of five concerned parties, who had met as GROWL mentors at the Global Legal Hackathon in New York, have decided to do something.

They are:

  • Clare Godson, Executive Director, aosphere (Allen & Overy),
  • Heather McAuliffe, KM Manager, Morrison & Foerster,
  • Anna McGrane, Cofounder, PacerPro
  • Ann Björk, Cofounder, Virtual Intelligence VQ in Sweden
  • Shruti Cogny, CEO, KnomAI

Björk told Artificial Lawyer: ‘The goal of the campaign is to decrease the use of unnecessary swag and thereby to cut the carbon footprint produced by conference swag, reduce waste and encourage a focus on meaningful conversations with vendors at conferences.’

‘After all, conferences are about learning new things and building relationships and – not about plastic knick knacks… There are a lot of good eco-friendly alternatives to conference freebies, such as e-gift cards, donations to charity or planting of trees for business card provided, contributions to ecological agencies and associations, and actually letting the product or service do the selling by making great demos.’

To join the campaign, vendors and attendees pledge to not provide or take any conference swag and ask that conferences ban swag from their events.

The campaign has two options for the pledge, depending on how fast the conference organisers feel that they can move in the eco-friendly direction:

Option 1

“We will not provide/accept conference swag and we ask that the conferences we support ban conference swag.”

Option 2

“We pledge to only provide/accept environmentally and socially responsible, 100% recyclable swag and ask that the conferences we attend require this.”

‘Hopefully, more and more conferences, vendors and attendees will follow suit, and we will try to take a first step in that direction at our own conference, VQ Forum, in October,’ said Björk.

More info will also appear on the new web site, so stay tuned for that!

Let’s clean the environment one conference at a time!

(Artificial Lawyer will also be mentioning this to all the vendors coming to the Legal Innovators event on 11 October in London.)

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