Greenies in BlogHer Land: SwagHer

July 27th, 2009

I arrived at BlogHer, the world’s largest conference for female bloggers, excited to write a parting post about how to find cheap, eco-friendly gifts to bring back to the kids as souvenirs of our time away in Chicago.

I was going to include this photo of the postcards and maps my husband brings back as gifts from his meetings in far flung places.


And I was planning to include this picture I took of the many great free maps and guides that could be picked up around Chicago.


And I even snapped photos of local “Chicago chocolate” in case some greenies just couldn’t resist the impulse to bring back more of a traditional gift for the kids – a little box of something consumable.  Hey, at least it would be local and cheap (although not fair trade).


I never wrote that post – it didn’t seem appropriate at BlogHer.  And I’m embarrassed to confess that I left the conference loaded down with “BlogHer swag.” (Swag= stuff we all get).


My children? They’re getting the Chicago maps and brochures I picked up at the train station. But they’re also getting a teddy bear, a DVD about puppies, and a book about Spiderman. My husband? He gets a new backpack (eco-friendly of course, made of recycled plastics). And me? Books, a T-shirt, and a new water bottle.

And that’s considered a “light load” from SwagHer. (I mean, BlogHer).

What happened?

I didn’t really need any of this stuff except for the backpack. My husband’s backpack is hanging by a shoulder thread – he’s been putting off that purchase. The kids? Yes, they’ve wanted to visit Build-a-Bear, but I’ve never taken them. Now we have discount coupons and bears to “dress.” And me? All I really wanted was an autographed copy of my friend Jennifer Taggert’s new book, Smart Mama’s Green Guide. (Thank you, Jennifer!)

Call it the “herd mentality.”   We follow others’ leads.  And there were very few women at the conference who didn’t participate in the conspicuous consumption.  At times the blow-out parties and swag made me wonder if it was ’99 instead of ’09. It sure didn’t seem like the Great Recession at BlogHer.

Hey, I knew my kids would love those teddy bears even though they already had bears at home.   Everyone else was taking bears back to their kids! And they were blogger bears! And I was right, wasn’t I? Doesn’t Boo look cute cuddling that bear?


The notion of feting women bloggers, of celebrating their achievements, and of giving gifts to women who may not treat themselves to much in life (especially the Moms) – was heartwarming. But with so many extravagant parties and suites, the evening scene at BlogHer turned into a combination of Halloween trick-or-treating and Mardi Gras. And with so many sponsored bloggers  interrupting others conversations to give a product pitch, heck, at times BlogHer seemed like a crazy reality TV show that was interrupted by sponsored programming!  Don’t get me wrong…a lot of it was fun. Who doesn’t like parties? But somewhere, somehow, things seemed to become a bit…excessive.

Aside from the environmental implications of all “that stuff” we really don’t need, the other major impact of “SwagHer” was that for many women,  all that time lining up to get into swag suites came at the expense of deeper  conversations with the women we commune with online everyday.   It’s sad that so many women left Blogher bemoaning the fact that they didn’t have time to really talk and connect with the women they met.  What were we doing?

I think next year BlogHer will be different…many of us “greenies” — and even those who don’t consider themselves “green bloggers” have been emailing and tweeting  about options for next year – everything from a new track within BlogHer to swag-free conference to a separate online or “in real life” conference. We’re in the brainstorming stages.

Still,  BlogHer was a fabulous experience. Although I personally thought some of it was over the top, everyone is different. In fact, one of the great things about BlogHer was to see how diverse the blogging community is – something you could get a sense for at the “Birds of a Feather” luncheons.   (No, it’s not all about Mom bloggers…And full disclosure, I’m co-authoring a marketing report about the conference with Maryanne Conlin, aka @mcmilker. )

Here are some pix of the fabulous women I enjoyed so much at Blogher .

gmcphotoPhoto: Some of the Green Moms Carnival Members at BlogHer: Top Row, LtoR   – Lynn of OrganicMania; Micaela of Mindful Momma. Bottom Row, L to R: Maryanne of Not Quite Crunchy Parent; Lisa of Condo Blues; Beth of Fake Plastic Fish and Diane of Big Green Purse.  Missing: Sommer of Green and Clean Mom and Jennifer of The Smart Mama.

greenleadershipphotoThe Eco-Leadership Panel at BlogHer. L to R: Diane of Big Green Purse, Siel of Green LA Girl, Sommer of Green and Clean Mom , and Jennifer of The Smart Mama.

My trip to BlogHer was made possible by my sponsors. Last year I missed BlogHer. And as I blogged here, I wasn’t even planning to go to BlogHer until Stonyfield Farm approached me about a sponsorship. Getting to a major conference and back is expensive – especially for someone with a small business still in “upstart” mode. So a huge thank you to wonderful @StonyfieldSarah from Stonyfield Farm. It was great meeting you at BlogHer! And thanks to my other sponsors – my former client Mom Made Foods and Snikiddy, a local Mom-led company based right where I live and work in Bethesda, Maryland. Thanks to them, thanks to Blogher’s corporate sponsors, and thank you to the founders of BlogHer for pursuing an incredible vision of blogging community that has brought so much to so many.

See you in New York!  I think we’ll all be treading a bit more lightly on Mother Earth at the next conference!

— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

8 Responses to “Greenies in BlogHer Land: SwagHer”

  1. Amber on July 28, 2009 7:59 am

    I’ve seen some photos of other swag ‘hauls’ and yours seems pretty small by comparison. I don’t think that you did too badly.

    I wasn’t at BlogHer, but reading the recaps has caused me some concern about the swag and its environmental impacts. I’m glad to hear that some people are working to change that. I hope that you’re successful! :)

  2. Lynn on July 28, 2009 8:04 am

    Thanks so much for your remarks, Amber. Yes, it’s true my load was “light,” as my husband pointed out, but still…I try to live by the 4Rs. The last one is “refuse” and sometimes that just becomes hard to do. What this really reinforced for me is the power of example. When I’m inspired by the women of The Green Moms Carnival, I want to limit my plastic consumption like Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, or hang a clothesline like Crunchy Chicken or cut back on carbon emissions like my friend La Marguerite inspired me to do… Maybe we were like (Fake Plastic) Fish out of water…I don’t know, but it wasn’t one of my finer moments.

  3. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish on July 30, 2009 9:30 am

    I was certainly feeling like a fish out of water. Can steal that phrase from you for my post? Please?

    My post is coming up today. If I can keep myself upright long enough to write it. I may not have gotten much swag, but I did bring home a cold.

  4. Lynn on July 30, 2009 11:03 am

    Absolutely, you can “steal” anything, just link back to me and mention me! :) Not like I didn’t think you would…. I absolutely cannot wait to read your post…I have been on pins and needles waiting for it.

  5. Condo Blues on July 30, 2009 10:20 pm

    I refused quite a bit in the Expo hall and gave some to my roommates, but still came home with a lot I would have taken home less if the recycling room was open longer than a few hours on Saturday. I was attending sessions and didn’t have a chance to go through my stuff until much later.

    I think the big Grab it All mentality came from some of the nonBlogHer sponsored parties accepting more RSVPs than they had gifty things for. After that hit Twitter, a few feral attendees decided to grab and dash so they wouldn’t feel left out. Sad really. Because after the turmoil and those people left I had a really good time at the parties. Especially meeting you and the other Green Mom Carnival moms in person!

  6. Blogher ‘09 and The Story of Stuff | Fake Plastic Fish on October 20, 2009 5:57 pm

    […] even intending to! She wrote about her swag experience and a bit of regret in her post, “Greenies in Blogherland: SwagHer“. She writes, Aside from the environmental implications of all “that stuff” we really […]

  7. Finding the Perfect Mommy Hands « Sarah Jo Sautter on March 25, 2010 7:45 pm

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  8. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Towards A Better BlogHer at Organic Mania on August 15, 2010 8:30 pm

    […] A Better BlogHer August 15th, 2010 As someone who blogged last year about SwagHer, decrying Blogher ‘09’s excessive  swag and pushy promotions, I feel compelled to report on the atmosphere at BlogHer […]

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