Exhibiting at trade shows and events is an excellent way to raise your profile and generate brand awareness. However, exhibitions can also seem really wasteful. Just think of all of those brochures and goody bags that get thrust towards you as you walk around.
According to Expositionists, around 100,000 tonnes of waste is burnt or sent to landfill each year from UK events alone. That’s nine Eiffel Towers in weight – or around 15,000 elephants!
Of course, with growing environmental awareness, things are getting a lot better. Companies are more environmentally conscious and there are things you can do to make sure your next trade stand fits right in with your green policies.
We’ve put together 10 ways to stay green when you exhibit. You can also check out our blogs on top tips for running green events and how to reduce single use plastics at events . As Environmentalist Robert Swan said: “The biggest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
10 ways to stay green when you exhibit
1. Choose a long-lasting, reusable modular stand
There is no point in having a new stand made every time you exhibit. If you’re a regular exhibitor, choose something that can fit various dimensions and that be re-skinned each time with new dates and messages if necessary. If you only do the odd show, consider hiring a stand. These can be fully customised, but you won’t have the initial expense or storage problems between shows. You can also be confident that the stand won’t end up in landfill if you decide not to exhibit again in the future!
2. Re-use bespoke elements for multiple shows
We all want our stands to look fantastic and unique. Unfortunately, this generally means having more banners, signage and other elements manufactured for the occasion. Forward planning is key here. If you know what events you’ll be attending throughout the year, you can make more informed decisions on what bespoke elements you are going to have made up, without risking any wastage.
3. Think about your flooring
Lay fibre-mixed carpets that can be recycled, or put down carpet tiles that can be reused elsewhere. Metres and metres of temporary carpet are laid at events every single day; we don’t want this going into landfill. If you have a single stand, the event will probably be carpeted anyway so you won’t have to worry, but if you’re organising a whole event, don’t forget to go green underfoot too!
4. Choose alternative materials for your displays
We mentioned earlier about making sure your displays aren’t only fit for single use, but we can actually make our whole stand completely recyclable by choosing the right materials. Cardboard displays are often very well received. Some offices are now using cardboard walls or room dividers and two designers even made a cardboard boat and sailed it down the Thames. Kevin McCloud used it to arrive at Grand Designs Live – and it didn’t sink! Cardboard is seriously underrated!
5. Don’t produce tonnes of printed marketing materials
With the growing use of technology, printed materials just aren’t necessary anymore. Why not opt to email your brochure to potential clients, or use scannable QR codes? Print versus digital is a conversation that will go on for years to come, but moderation is certainly key.
6. Use timber and paper materials from well-managed forests
If you do print materials to give away on your stand, you’ll be making a big difference if you choose paper that has been made from trees in forests with Forest Stewardship Council approval.
7. Install low-wattage lighting or LED energy-efficient lighting
LED lights can be recycled because, unlike usual bulbs, they don‘t contain any hazardous materials, which harm the environment and therefore have to go into landfill. Using LED bulbs means less CO2 emissions and less energy consumed.
8. Look for ‘green’, water-based paints
Water-based paints have lower levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) compared to solvent-based paints. VOCs are solvents which readily evaporate, contributing to the formation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
9. Reconsider your giveaways and goody bags
It’s usual for branded pens and other merchandise to be given to visitors at shows and events, but these often get left and then thrown away. Why not give away something greener, such as a branded reusable bottle at your next event? Check out our blog on branded gifts for more environmentally friendly ideas.
10. Promote your green credentials and spread the word about sustainability
You’ve done all the hard work so now’s the time to shout about it! Tell people how green your stand is and spread the sustainability love. You never know who it might inspire next!