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Trade Show Attendees

20 Eco-Friendly Giveaway Ideas for Trade Shows and Events

Whenever you’re going to a trade show, event, or other gathering, if you’re hosting it or if you have a booth, you want to make it memorable for your attendees. In most cases, the best way to do that is to have something tangible you give away to the people who visit. You can put together a swag bag of lower-value items to give to everyone who attends or set higher-value items as giveaway rewards, door prizes, or raffles.

Of course, when so much of the swag given away at a convention ends up forgotten on a shelf or, worse, discarded, it’s important to make sure yours isn’t just adding to a landfill somewhere. That means either making it as environmentally friendly as possible so if it does, it’s not bad, or making it so memorable and useful that it gets plenty of use before it’s discarded. Here are 20 ideas of good items you can use in your giveaways to stand out.

Digital Items

What could be more eco-friendly than an item that doesn’t actually exist? While there’s certainly some level of consumption inherent in digital products – electricity has to come from somewhere – it’s still nothing that can ever end up in a landfill. Here are some options for digital items you can give out.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are quick and easy. Depending on how you want to hand them out, it can be as simple as an email or a QR code, or you can have printed cards produced, though that defeats the purpose. Gift cards can be of any value and be redeemable for nearly anything, which adds utility.

A Gift Card

For a fun giveaway idea, get gift cards of different denominations but no identifying features, so whoever gets them could get anywhere from $10 to $1,000, with the grand prize winner potentially getting additional value or features on your website or with your business as well.


Coupons are quick and easy, and while they aren’t entirely compelling, a good discount code exclusive to your convention booth can attract purchases or sign-ups that you won’t normally get. It’s also very easy to administrate unless you want to make sure codes can’t be reused outside of the event, which becomes a much larger hassle.

A Woman Using an Exclusive Coupon Code

It’s up to you how you want to administer it, how big the discount is, and what it applies to, but it can be a great and simple option or a good add-on to other swag.

Media Packs

This one is more of an add-on than a prize in and of itself. Put together a media pack, either something digitally on a URL or on a branded thumb drive you add to the swag bag.

A Branded Thumb Drive

Include media about your brand and business, anything the press might need to write about you, and anything else you feel like including. A customized thank you message can be a nice addition as well. You can also combine this with other digital items above, such as putting your coupon code in with the media package.

Digital Magazine Subscriptions

Magazines are definitely not one of the more eco-friendly possibilities out there, but digital magazines can be.

A Woman Reading a Digital Magazine

Plus, you don’t have to do the old “monthly PDF in the inbox” kind of magazine; you can give out gift subscriptions to mainstream media blogs and news outlets that the recipient might not have their own paid subscription to.

Interactive Promo Space

This last one is a little less tangible, but it’s still a fun idea. As part of your booth – and to tie in other forms of marketing – you can set up something like a TV screen showing a feed of media. This media can be pulled from, for example, a specific social media hashtag. This allows users to put their own promos in that space for others who attend your event to see.

Interactive Promo Space

You can also use less-public systems than social media to achieve the same ends, letting people at the venue write something on a digital whiteboard or another similar concept. It’s not something they take home with them, but neither is it something they throw away later.

Renewable Items

Swag doesn’t feel right if it’s not tangible and physical, right? Sure, getting a gift card or coupon code is nice, but sometimes you want something you can hold in your hand. Here are a few ideas of objects you can get branded for your business to hand out either alone or as part of a larger swag package at your trade show. All of them are eco-friendly and sustainably made, so they’re better for the environment than other similar items.

Bamboo Utensils

Bamboo is a fantastic material. It’s as hard as many woods but flexible enough to be made into a variety of different forms. It also grows very quickly, so it’s easy to replenish, unlike trees that take much longer to grow. For example, bamboo utensils make a great addition to a swag bag and can be lightly branded with laser etching to include your promotional information.

Bamboo Utensils

You can also use bamboo for things like cutting boards and cups or the shells of pens. Bamboo can also make some textiles, so you can find totes, lanyards, and more made of it as well.

Recycled Stationery

While a pen-and-notepad set is one of the most commonplace and cliché pieces of promotional swag you can possibly imagine, it’s also a simple and easy item to get, and these days, you can find notepads made of entirely recycled materials.

Ethix Merch Notebooks

Paper recycling is more effective now than ever before, so you don’t have to feel bad about adding more paper to the swag bag, even if the recipient isn’t terribly fond of stationery.

Seed Paper Coasters

Seed paper is growing in popularity with certain brands, and with good reason. A seed paper is just what it sounds like: paper infused with viable seeds for plants. You can use it for paper products like business cards or coasters, which can be used and, when they’re no longer useful, can simply be planted.

Ethix Merch Seed Paper Coaster

If they end up discarded, they bring fresh plant life to wherever they end up. The trick is to make sure the seed paper you’re getting will grow plants that won’t end up invasive wherever they end up.

Canvas Totes

Canvas totes are great. They’re eco-friendly, made of the right materials, sustainably made, extremely useful and resilient, far beyond what a paper or plastic bag would be, and very durable and long-lasting.

Ethix Merch Canvas Tote

They can be branded or imprinted with a cool design, and you know the recipient will be carrying it around with them wherever they go. And, if you’re making a whole swag bag as part of your kit, the tote can be the bag itself.

Recycled Glassware

Glass is one of the easiest and most readily recycled materials this side of metal. Recycled glass can be used to make anything non-recycled glass can make, with no real difference in clarity, utility, or form.

Ethix Merch Custom Glassware

You can get your glassware printed or etched with your branding and include it as part of any giveaway. Whether you want tumblers, wine glasses, pint glasses, or something else entirely, there’s definitely an option for you.

Ethical Apparel

Apparel is a frequent item in giveaways because it’s easy to make shirts or other clothing items with branding. For our part, we ensure that all of the clothing we produce is ethically made and eco-friendly, and we’re more than happy to provide any information about it that we can. Here are a few more ideas of good swag for your trade show giveaways.

Sustainable Cotton Tees

Cotton, when produced properly, is an astoundingly ethical and effective material. That’s why we’ve done all the legwork to source ethically-grown cotton that is produced entirely locally, from dirt to shirt.

Ethix Merch Cotton Shirts

The t-shirts you get from us can be branded using the most sustainable printing processes and give you a high-quality piece of merch that won’t fade or wear out prematurely. They’re great for event-focused apparel.

Ethically Manufactured Beanies

T-shirts are overdone, right? We don’t really think so – everyone wears shirts – but we get it. There will probably be a dozen other people at the same trade show with their own shirts, so why not go with something a little different?

Ethix Merch Beanies

Beanies may not be the best style of hat for everyone, but they’re easy to make ethically, and for the people who really like them, a good, comfortable beanie can be a long-term piece of apparel.

Ethical Leather Goods

Leather may not be your first thought when it comes to ethical products, but the truth is that leather can be extremely ethical, depending on where it comes from.

Ethix Merch Keychains

As a byproduct of an industry that isn’t stopping any time soon, it’s good to make use of what would otherwise be simply scrap. Meanwhile, a good piece of leather can last for decades and can be useful the entire time. While small leather items make good additions to swag bags, you might consider a larger, better leather item, like a jacket, for a one-off raffle or other high-value giveaway.

Custom-Printed Bandanas

Bandanas can be very useful and very interestingly printed as squares of fabric on which you can put pretty much anything. They’re versatile and can be a simple addition to any swag bag.

Ethix Merch Custom Bandana

Our bandanas are made from high-quality cotton and silk, making them an excellent option while maintaining the ethical standards we have for everything we offer.

Eco-Friendly Cotton Socks

Who doesn’t wear socks? Socks can range from boring flat colors to vibrant patterns, from thin dress socks to thick woolen winter accessories.

Ethix Merch Custom Socks

They’re also just a bit off the beaten path, so they’re a unique and interesting accessory to any swag package that you are pretty unlikely to find duplicated from other attendees.

Sustainable Goods

Finally, let’s round out the list with a few more sustainable goods that approach the idea of ethical products from a slightly different direction. These can all be very useful or just enjoyable, so give them some consideration.

Solar Powered Chargers

Everyone has electronic devices with batteries these days, and while charging stations are often available in public facilities, they can be dangerous to use if they’ve been tampered with.

A Solar-Powered Charger

A charging battery is useful as well, and you can keep it topped up with a solar cell that helps it passively absorb energy when it’s not in use.

Artisan Coffee

Coffee is one of those products that, from the wrong supplier, is just about the least ethical product money can buy this side of diamonds.

Artisan Coffee

On the other hand, when sourced properly from a Fairtrade organization or other ethical crafter, it can be both much tastier and extremely ethical. Always support ethical production and get better coffee to boot.

LED Flashlights

Who doesn’t need a good flashlight from time to time?

An LED Flashlight

A simple flashlight with a rechargeable battery and an LED can last for a long time, be recharged with a solar charger, and is generally a very handy tool to keep around. Plus, they can be branded, and the branding reflects back on you with the quality of the light.

Reusable Straws

While switching from plastic straws to reusable bamboo or steel straws might feel like a drop in the ocean as far as environmentalism is concerned, it’s still a step in the right direction, and they can be long-lasting and incredibly useful.

Drinks With Reusable Straws

Why not add one to your swag?

Reusable Travel Mugs

A regular mug has limited utility outside of the home or office, but a travel mug can go with you anywhere you go. Whether you get a high-end mug from a trending brand or just a more ethically-made but robust branded mug, it can be handy even for the event you’re giving it away.

A Reusable Travel Mug

Whatever you choose, there are tons of ethical, sustainably produced, and excellent promotional items you can have stocked for your trade show giveaways. Browse our store for more ethical ideas, or put together something of your own!