Whether you focus on countertops, flooring, walls or other surfaces, there is no question that trade shows are a big part of the industry and necessary to help drum up business and learn what’s new. Trade shows, however, are also notoriously big on waste. There may not be much you can do about the other exhibitors or even the sponsor, but it is possible make your little corner of the show completely sustainable.
Over the past year, several companies that work closely with trade shows, conferences and expositions have put together some tips about how you can go green at your next trade show without any hassles. A special thank you for the basis of this article goes out to CSI etc. (a national trade-show services contractor), ADM2 Exhibits & Displays, Inc. and DoubleDutch (a software developer and supporter of the Green Meetings Industry Council).
- Use sustainable materials. While some companies simply set up a single folding table at a booth, others put together extravagant displays. It is understood that the same old booth show after show can get stale, but when redesigning, try to use as many pieces of your old setup as possible. A few businesses specializing in green displays will even perform custom cuts and alterations. If new pieces are required, try to see if recycled or sustainable options are available.
- Use local resources. Most exhibitors travel to trade shows from elsewhere around the country, but travelling with all the materials you will need at the show costs money and requires a great deal of energy to transport. When possible, see if you can rent materials locally.
- Go paperless. Although it is a hard habit to break, there is no reason in this day and age why we can’t go completely paperless. If you must use paper, try to limit it to a handful of business cards or small cards that direct interested attendees to online materials. An even better idea is to ask visitors to provide you with an email, which can be entered on a smartphone or tablet. Then, you can email information and digital materials to everyone with a single email blast.
- Use energy-efficient appliances and products. If you have electric appliances, use energy-efficient versions, such as LED lighting. If your presentations require running water, be sure to incorporated a closed recycling system so that you are not constantly using and disposing of fresh water. In addition, power down any electric or electronic devices when they are not in use.
- Give out compostable, recycled or recyclable tchotchkes. Many businesses like to give out small but useful trinkets or other items with their company information imprinted on them. At your next trade show, hand out recycled products, such as pens, or compostable materials that don’t have to go into a landfill when they inevitably break or lose their functionality.
- Give out fresh, organic foods and beverages. If you plan on serving refreshments to your visitors, a wide variety of delicious and affordable foods and beverages made from locally sourced, organic ingredients can usually be found.
- Support the local community. Let the local community know that you care about the environment and your carbon footprint by giving something back to them. Sponsor a tree planting, donate sustainable products or organize a community clean up.
- Educate other exhibitors and attendees. Share your ideas for going green at trade shows with the other exhibitors, and provide tips to attendees visiting your booth.