Event organizers are always looking for interesting and unique gift ideas for attendees, sponsors, incentive award winners. But if you want to provide a lasting, meaningful gift that is not only sustainable but will continue to grow over time, think tree gifts.
A logo’d promotional t-shirt is nice, but how many end up being recycled to family, friends and the local thrift store — or worse yet, thrown away altogether? Ditto for coffee cups, pens, stuffies and all the other traditional gifts and giveaways often seen at events. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sustainable gift option with a lifespan of up to 2,000 years that not only brings a smile to their faces, but also make a lasting impact and increase your event’s sustainability? If so, think trees.
Yes, event gift trees are in fact a growing trend. For example, organizers of the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Business Events Regional Showcase, held in August in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, gifted each of their event planner attendees a tree that would add to the habitat of tree kangaroos on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland. The gift trees helped emphasize the organizer’s message that Tropical North Queensland delivers sustainable events in a destination that values the environment, people and culture, according to Rosie Douglas, General Manager, Partnerships & Events with Business Events Cairns and the Barrier Reef. The organization “invites visitors to do the same through initiatives such as the tree gifts we purchased through Reforest,” she added.
M&E Week, a major event for the manufacturing and engineering industries in the UK, also emphasized the UK government’s industrial target of achieving net zero by 2050 — a major topic on the event’s agenda — by planting trees for each attendee to offset event emissions. The organizers used eGifts to let attendees know about the tree project before the event and used banners and tree elements during the event to promote the initiative. The 2023 event, which was the second time they used a tree-gift promotion, resulted in the planting of 3,380 trees to offset emissions, plus another 12,821 trees on behalf of attendees.
Salesforce also used gift trees as event giveaways once its event returned to gathering in person in 2022. In addition to tree-kit giveaways, Salesforce offered tree pouches attendees could use to pack their trees — and other sustainable gifts — back home. They also sent out digital forest gifts to partners who downloaded content from the event. “We hope that by having zero-waste swag we will continue to improve the world. With two trees planted for every one seed we purchase, we are excited to see the difference the Salesforce Forest will make in Tanzania,” said Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO.
The gift tree options are as varied as the events industry. Some ways event organizers are using them include:
- Tree gift kits that attendees can carry back home and plant themselves. Some companies, such as ForestNation, plant an additional tree for each tree gift the event organizer purchases.
- Trees as a badge alternative. ForestNation also provides its tree kits in small, sealed pouches of soil and seedling that can be customized with an organization’s or event’s logo, branding and messaging, then attached to lanyard printed with the attendee’s information.
- If you really want to give a branded coffee mug, why not have it also include a QR code that links to a tree-planting option? Also offered by ForestNation, this option includes a QR code that provides access to a tree-planting project in the Usambrara mountains of Tanzania.
- Plant trees to offset carbon emissions from the event, as M&E Week did. You can let attendees know about the effort with a display wall at the show outlining the event’s carbon emissions goals and how many trees were planted to help reach those goals. This can be done as a one-off for a special event, or some companies, such as GiftTrees, provide a platform that allows organizers to integrate its software with an organization’s internal email and meeting-scheduling system so they can choose which meetings they want to be more sustainable with a tree-planting element.
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