You may have more opportunities than you think to go green with environmentally friendly, sustainable trade show exhibiting. Here are some industry best practices for being a green exhibitor this year.
By Daniel Chaddock
From transportation and lodging to trade show exhibits, supplies and more, there are myriad ways to go green at your next event. But for many exhibitors, it’s hard to know all the green options out there – and which choices make the most impact on the environment.
To complement our new green exhibit booth product line, we’ve put together this helpful guide to going green at your next event or show. If you’re concerned about your company’s environmental impact or your corporation has a mandate to reduce waste and emissions, follow these best practices – and contribute to a greener, healthier earth this year.
Green Trade Show Exhibits
One of the most obvious – and effective – ways to green your trade show experience is to reduce material waste in your exhibit. Here are some tips for building and maintaining green trade show displays:
- Consider a rental trade show exhibit to reduce materials usage.
- Refurbish and update existing trade show displays instead of replacing them. New surfaces, color and graphics can add significant life to an existing booth.
- Consider a green trade show exhibit made with recycled materials, rapidly renewable resources, lower-petroleum products and other sustainable and eco-friendly materials.
- Recycle your retired exhibits and properly reallocate waste so it avoids the landfill.
- Reuse packaging like bubble wrap, padding and cardboard for your next shipping need, and use recyclable and biodegradable materials.
Brochures and booklets can be great marketing materials, but extensive printing and paper usage leaves an ecological imprint. While you probably can’t go paperless at your next show, you can reduce your need for printed collateral:
- Limit the literature and DVDs you hand out.
- Use LCD monitors instead of handing out DVDs.
- Display a sustainable collateral practice statement so visitors know your stance on waste reduction.
- Consider printing materials on environmentally friendly paper and stock, such as www.mohawkpaper.com.
Greener Shipping, Travel and Lodging Options
One of the best ways to go green doesn’t even happen at the trade show itself: transportation. Shipping and travel for show staff contribute a significant amount to your show’s carbon footprint.
- Rethink your show needs – leave unnecessary extras behind.
- Pack smart to reduce the weight of your displays and save you substantial shipping costs.
- If possible, print literature at your destination to reduce shipping needs.
- Look into freight carriers that buy carbon offset credits.
- Consider Web conferences and trim in-person staffing when possible.
- Look into greener flying, such as Continental Airlines’ Eco-Skies initiative, or take the train.
- Stay at a Kimpton Hotel, a boutique chain offering environmentally friendly lodging.
- Visit www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com or www.greenhotels.com for information on hotels with greener bedding, cleaning supplies, organic foods and other eco best practices.
Environmentally Friendly Tchotchkes
Trade shows are notorious for their gift bags and corporate schwag – much of which ends up in a landfill. To truly cut down on waste, try one of these options for your booth’s visitors:
- Give t-shirts made from bamboo, a rapidly renewable, sustainable resource.
- Instead of standard plastics, look for tchotchkes made from corn plastics, which are non-toxic and break down naturally.
- Display your commitment to green exhibiting in a unique way – give away plants or seedlings as eco-friendly gifts.
Regardless of which green exhibiting options your company embraces, keep in mind that an eco-friendly trade shows displays are just one piece of the puzzle. Recently, many companies have been accused of “greenwashing” – misleading consumers about green practices – making it more important than ever to back up your environmentally friendly claims with real action. Company-wide benchmarks, corporate policies and public statements all help prove that green is more than a trend for your company.
Since 1994, Daniel Chaddock has consulted on effective trade show exhibit designs and use of exhibits for trade show marketing. He is currently President of E&E Exhibit Solutions, a trade show display company with expertise in custom displays, custom portable exhibits and custom modular displays. You can reach Daniel via email to Daniel@exhibitsusa.com or call 800.709.6935.