The Reusable Bag and Bottle Question

Do conferences really need more bags and water bottles? Readers are divided on the topic, as a recent LinkedIn thread about Deputy Editor Barbara Palmer’s write-up on the topic indicates.

Author: Convene Editors       

San Francisco International Airport water stations

Water refilling stations at venues, like this one at the San Francisco International Airport, can help encourage attendees to bring their own reusable water bottles to events.

Convene Deputy Editor Barbara Palmer wrote about the PCMA Northern California Chapter’s L.E.A.P. (Learn. Engage. Act. Participate.) Conference, held at the San Mateo Marriott on Sept. 8, where Flavia Oliveira, director of sales and marketing for Visit Santa Cruz County, gave a presentation on maximizing environmental impact through meetings and asked, do conferences really need more bags and water bottles?

“I’m sure we all have a pile of bags somewhere in our house,” Oliveira mused. “Why do we need another bag?” Oliveira now makes a point of taking her own water bottle wherever she goes, she said, and noted the increasing number of venues that now offer water refilling stations.

But readers are divided on the topic, as a LinkedIn thread about Palmer’s write-up indicates. Here’s what commenters had to say:


Most event professionals come equipped with a bag that they are able to collect all that they need. I actually think that we should not be giving business cards any longer. This past summer, I discovered QRme, a free app that you can download and provide all your information to. Every show I have been to since, I have used it and those that have my contact info are now using it. The sooner our industry stops using unsustainable accessories, the better our planet will be. This is tough for promotional vendors to swallow, but they have to exercise more creativity in the future.

Janice Cardinale, VEMM, Founder, Cardinale Creative


Being in the role of an exhibitor, conference attendee, and managing my own annual meeting for my organization, yes, I agree we all have too many bags. However, I’ve been at conferences where they don’t have bags and when someone visits your expo table or booth, they don’t want to pick up your brochure or anything else because they have no place to put it and don’t want to carry anything around with them. That bag can easily be donated later. I have found many attendees love the bags and run out of them at trade shows. As for water bottles, it’s promo for the organization and can also be used at the airport filling station when traveling home from conferences. I prefer to use one when attending events [that I can] reuse instead of using plastic bottles to throw away.

Janine Komornick, Manager of Operations, Vibration Institute


We had the same discussion 20 years ago. The giveaways have changed. The issue remains the same. This is not about helping create more value at the conference; it is a promotional opportunity for some organizations.

Ed Bernacki, Innovationist, The Idea Factory


I always like the idea of a “shop” [where] you have a couple of items to choose from (water bottles, bags, etc.) and let the attendees grab one or two things if they want. That way, anything they don’t want won’t just be discarded — you can use it at your next event.

Nicole Fischer, CMP, Marketing Events Specialist, Mercury Marine


Attendees love swag! They earn that benefit — even if they have 30 bottles at home — and need the bag to carry the other items. As a planner, it’s the opportunity to be more creative in my amenity gifts.

Donina Ifurung, Meetings Manager, AMPED Association Management


Contributions are better. I bring my own bag and bottle. If explained ahead and why, then it can work. Too, it depends on the audience. Like DEI, sustainability [should be] practiced as written and stated or it is hypocritical. .

Joan Eisenstodt, Chief Strategist, Eisenstodt Associates

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