As you prepare for your next trade show exhibit, consider this: The 60 million people who attend trade-shows each year generate around $100 billion in annual revenue, but also impact the environment in a big way. As Drew Hendricks reports for National Geographic, “On average, each individual will produce around 20 pounds of waste at these venues — that’s over 1 billion pounds of waste a year.” If your small business wants to be a part of reducing that mountainous pile of trash, consider these six ways to create a more eco-friendly trade-show display.
1. Urge your trade association to consider eco-friendly materials. Once a trade show draws to a close, “there’s collateral damage — no pun intended,” says Scott McKye. His company, Kleertech, makes biodegradable badge holders and lanyards.
2. Support efforts to recycle trade-show trash. Las Vegas has been the nation’s top trade-show destination for nearly 20 consecutive years. SnowSports Industries America collaborates with Repurpose America [PDF], a Nevada nonprofit, to give trade show materials a second life. Everything from badge holders to food scraps are re-purposed. For example, foam-core panels have been donated to the University of Nevada, which turned them into theatrical backdrops.
3. Use booths made of bamboo.
When HealthWell Foundation wanted a lightweight, flexible trade show booth, VoxVerde built one from bamboo. “The use of bamboo, a renewable resource, reduced the set’s weight below that of typical pull-up displays — which lowered shipping costs and minimized the toll on employees working the show.” Rollable bamboo flooring is also available.
4. Ask for eco-solvent inks. Vinyl banners are ubiquitous in the trade show industry. When printing banners for trade shows, request eco-friendly inks, which are a relatively benign alternative to petroleum-based ones. These plant-based inks can also be used to print trade-show posters, badges, flyers, and brochures.
5. Use digital kiosks instead of printed handouts. Instead of stuffing trade show attendees’ hands with oodles of printed flyers and brochures, offer visitors the option of receiving product information via email. Brian Wilcox, Vice President of Seoul Semiconductor North America, outfits his company’s exhibit booths with kiosk-style stations, using Vablet, a file management system that allows exhibitors to access product information, while at trade shows. That way, attendees can view the company’s sales pitch on iPads instead of paper.
6. Reuse vinyl banners. Hemming the edges and installing grommets extends the life of a traditional vinyl banner, as does using evergreen wording. You can also edit and reuse banner displays with dated wording: Most sign shops will revise an existing banner for a modest charge. The same technique may be used with biodegradable banners, too.