Making a Meaningful Impact – Sustainability in Trade Show Exhibition

Posted on 23, March, 2023

Last Modified on 23, March, 2023

The trade show industry is evolving, driven by attendees who are looking for an experience that aligns with not only their needs, but also with their values. They’re now looking at what your business offers with their sights additionally set on who your business is, and what it cares about.

As taking care of our planet becomes not just a movement but a way of life, people everywhere are looking at how they can make a positive impact. There’s a lot we can do as individuals – things as simple as reusable bags and energy-efficient light bulbs – but one thing that more and more people are starting to do is take a good, hard look at the businesses with whom they interact to make sure they’re giving their business to companies who care about the environment as much as they do.

If you’re already taking steps in your everyday business practices, then you’re already ahead of the curve! But if you are a company that frequently exhibits at events or trade shows, you might wonder how you can keep up with doing your part for the environment in an industry that is known for waste and excess.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Display

One thing that may seem counterintuitive is that bigger is not always better. You don’t need to fill every square inch of your exhibit space, but could instead opt for making a big impact with less. Going with less in your space requires less power and can help you minimize your electricity usage, as well as allowing you to avoid excess shipping and transportation to help illuminate the costs and pollution that is associated with having to ship a large display.

An easy way to show the way you’re making a positive impact is to pay close attention to what your trade show displays are made of. Recycled aluminum banner stands will still give you the classic trade show display look, but are much more environmentally friendly. If you’re looking to change your look completely, opt for banners, backdrops, and counters made from bamboo or FSC certified wood. Pair wooden hardware with banners made from recycled materials such as recycled plastics to help you truly stand out while making a difference. Explore other options, such as biodegradable materials or eco-friendly glass, or banners made of cotton.

Another great way to make a positive environmental impact is to reuse your displays as much as you possibly can. Opt for durable fabrics that tend to last longer than other substrates. If your company’s marketing message changes too frequently to continue to use the same printed messages for multiple shows, find a display that offers replacement graphics so you can get extended use out of your stand while only having to replace the graphic. If that still seems like too much, now might be the time to invest in a digital display that can be changed endlessly. Just remember that digital displays use electricity, so you will have to decide if the cost of reusability outweighs the cost of power consumption.

Or, if you’d rather not commit to purchasing a display at all, look into renting. You can find one-of-a-kind, eye-catching setups that can be used for your show then sent back to the company you rented from to be reused over and over by other exhibitors looking to make a positive environmental impact as well.

Go Paperless & Packageless

With a smartphone in nearly every pocket, now is the time to look into digital communication. Include a QR code on your displays that allows attendees to access information about you or your company that they may otherwise get from a flyer or business card. Capture their contact information digitally and send them an e-book directly to their email so you don’t have to worry about your handouts getting lost or discarded. These options not only reduce waste, but also help you save big on printing costs. If you still feel paper marketing materials are the best solution for your company, look into environmentally conscious printers and recycled papers. Make sure you print on both sides of the paper to reduce how much paper you use.

If you’ll be giving away any sort of handout or swag, don’t use more packaging for it than is absolutely necessary. Use eco-friendly totes in place of plastic bags or other packaging, which are great not only for the environment but are also a great giveaway that attendees can get extended use out of, helping keep your company at the forefront of their minds for longer. If you don’t have the budget for totes or are just looking for something a little smaller to offer your prospective customers, make sure you’re giving away sustainable products. Many trade show suppliers now offer a range of eco-friendly giveaways so you’re sure to find something that is a true representation of your brand that attendees will love!

Shipping & Transportation

We touched on it a little earlier, but as a reminder: don’t underestimate the impact shipping and travel have on the environment. Opt for smaller displays that use less packaging, or if that’s not an option try to use materials that can be packed tightly, preferably on a single pallet. The less space your display is taking up, the more you’re able to help reduce the number of trucks on the road. This saves you not only on shipping costs, but also helps reduce the amount of pollution generated during shipping.

Your displays are one thing, but getting your staff to and from an event is another thing you need to consider. If you’re able to, try cutting down on the number of flights in order to help reduce the amount of pollution being created when planes climb to altitude. Direct flights make it easier on your staff, and have much less negative impact on the environment, making it an easy way to be eco-friendly.

If you’re not flying, have your team coordinate transportation so they’re taking the fewest number of vehicles possible. Take public transportation if it’s available and isn’t a huge hassle for your staff.

It takes less effort than you might think to turn exhibiting at an event or trade show into an eco-friendly affair. By making simple but meaningful changes, you can help align your company’s values with those of your prospective customers and show them that you, too, are dedicated to working towards a brighter future for our planet.

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