Phoenix 2011 will be first swag-less, zero waste WordCamp


WordCamp Phoenix is only a scant two weeks away, and already it’s sounding like a unique WordCamp event. Organizer Amanda Blum passed on some interesting information to us about the upcoming event: the event will be swag-less and zero waste. As far as we know, it will be the first WordCamp to achieve both.

Swag, or stuff we all get, is typically given to attendees at all WordCamps in bags that include handouts from sponsors and sometimes speakers. Blum and the other organizers have opted out because, as she puts it, “no one uses that stuff anyway”. While t-shirts and other non-disposable swag will still be handed out, the sponsors and speakers at WordCamp Phoenix are being encouraged to forgo the typical postcards and flyers for more organic interaction with attendees.

In addition to swag-less, Phoenix will be zero waste. All items at the event will be recyclable, down to the silverware at lunch made of corn starch. Rather than a limitless supply of plastic cups, for example, a “very finite” number of cups will be available, plus markers to write your name on your cup. The move to zero waste is afforded WordCamp Phoenix by the involvement of Global Green Integrators, a Phoenix startup that provided a discount to the event.

Would you miss swag-ing and polluting at WordCamp Phoenix? Or is this something that other WordCamps should adopt as well?

11 thoughts on “Phoenix 2011 will be first swag-less, zero waste WordCamp

  1. **Full disclosure – I’m helping plan WordCamp Phoenix (I’m running the genius bar)**
    I love the idea zero-waste events, and especially zero-waste WordCamps. I won’t miss any of that waste at all. I worry a little bit about touting a “swag-less” event, because people *do* love swag. The truth is, we’ll still have all the good swag. All we’re discouraging is the lame swag that everyone throws away as soon as they get home (if not sooner).

  2. Being an organizer myself, it cuts a lot of stress out and allows for that money to be put into the event itself. But being an attendee, it saddens me.

    • I think what we decided was that no matter how much money we spent on really great bags, they never got used. And at the bottom of that bag was a mess of flyers and postcards that too, rarely got used. This was based on feedback from sponsors, the return on those flyers, etc was very low. The stress and cost was never a factor, going this route has easily incurred about 5-6 times the work. We had an early idea to make it a “BYOB” (bring your own bag) event. In the end though, we didn’t see the point of putting out all that paper. The attendees don’t want it… they want GOOD stuff. T Shirts. Toys. Free accounts. Discounts. Usable stuff, not the stuff that you toss out. By making flyers and postcards not a possibility, it forced sponsors to come up with REAL ways to interact with the attendees… talk to them. Do better giveaways. BE at the event. If at a technology event, we can’t serve the same information to you in a better way than paper, then we’re failing.
      It’ll be noticeably more awesome, and if in 2 weeks you miss the stack of flyers and postcards I will personally ship you a ream of paper, to your door:)

  3. This is an awesome idea.

    I’m one of those people that says, “Ooh, swag bags!”, and then, a week later, back at home, I’m like, “Why did I get all this crap?” Good on you guys for taking a stand.

  4. Personally, I love WordCamp swag bags. I keep them as a souvenir, especially as I usually have to travel significant distance to get to any WordCamp.

    • protip: take commemorative camp t shirt, tie or sew sleeves shut, turn upside down. VOILA! #wcphx bag. but then, you’d be missing chance to wear easily most awesome wc shirt evah.

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