Have you visited a trade show lately? Chances are you were handed a few glossy brochures, a couple of flyers, some business cards and a catalogue. These don’t end up on your bookshelf, they mostly proceed in a trash can sooner or later. This adds up to more than 450,000 tons of garbage that form as a result of various exhibitions and trade fairs. This weight equals to more than 8 “Titanics”. Fascinating, isn’t it? And your future participation is going to contribute to this horrendous amount of waste. But we believe there are ways to make your exhibitions not only effective but eco-friendly and sustainable as well.
Reuse booth constructions
Most of the waste comes from discarded booth constructions — the overall waste volume here is next only to the construction industry. Companies tend to build exclusive stands for every exhibition.
The environmentally responsible trend here is using modular constructions. They can be reused for your following exhibitions. It’s like a capsule wardrobe — you spice it up with bright accessories every time and it looks all new.
Even if modular booth constructions are not your way to go, you still can reuse certain elements from your previous stands. Remember to think about it during the design stage and discuss the options with your stand designers.
There is no need to throw away dozens of perfectly good chairs from your temporary booth negotiations room. If you use some custom-made furniture think about storing them somewhere until the next trade show. In case you don’t need them anymore or if the storage comes at a great expense consider donating them — public schools from poor neighbourhoods will gladly accept them.
Synthetic carpets are an enormous source of waste. Yet these couple of days that they are used is far less than they were intended for, and they are discarded almost perfectly new. Of course, the carpets will be more worn off in the busy areas of your stand with a lot of traffic. Consider only replacing these carpet tiles instead of removing everything.
As for other kinds of flooring, think greener — there are plenty of options that use recycled or eco-friendly materials that are sourced sustainably and that decompose easily. Avoid wood flooring — even though it is a natural material, it takes too much time to renew.
Print fewer brochures and catalogues
Another huge source of waste caused by exhibitions is all of the paper advertising. Don’t print out large numbers of copies of catalogues, flyers and leaflets — a small flyer with a QR-code on it will do the job. Those who are really interested will proceed to your website, those who aren’t will throw away a small piece of paper instead of a whole catalog on a landfill.
Think about installing interactive screens instead. Sometimes they will even give you an advantage over paper advertising — you can use video and animation to explain complicated concepts. You will find it more cost-effective.
You can prepare your catalogues as a pdf-file. You can send them to the clients’ e-mails — it is an excellent excuse to get their e-mail address for further correspondence.
Sometimes the catalogue should really be in print — when it is intended to be used as a reference. For example, if you produce home decorations, interior designers would rather have a catalogue where they could use stickers, water pens and bookmarks. In such cases, it will be a smart decision to post it out later to your customers who showed interest in the product.
Use eco-friendly lighting
The correct lighting of the stand means almost as much as the design itself. When it comes to choosing the light sources, use LED lighting whenever possible. Eco-friendly lights will help you save energy.
Sort the trash
When you unpack, you discard a lot of film, cardboard and other packaging materials. Be it paper or plastic, make sure to have it sorted and sent to the recycling facilities. Some exhibition venues already have the necessary resources to gather plastic and paper waste separately to proceed with recycling. If they don’t you can always suggest such an initiative.
Your exhibition participation doesn’t have to be a new ecological disaster. There is always some room for improvement — let’s start with choosing greener options.