Unfortunately, exhibitions can potentially be a wasteful affair, with business cards, catalogues, and printed badges all eventually being doomed to a drawer or bin. How can exhibitions take a step in the greener direction? In this piece, we’ll explore various eco-friendly moves for both hosts and delegates to consider when running or attending an exhibition.
Become a greener host
The right venue
If you are a hosting an exhibition it is important to take steps during the preparation of the show to ensure it is as eco-friendly as possible. There is an increasing amount of companies who expect to see this level of environmental awareness at the shows they attend, whether they have a stand there or they are attending as a guest. In this sense, it’s vital for exhibition hosts to do more to appeal to this rising requirement.
One thing to consider is the venue itself. Of course, you need to accommodate the projected size of your event, as well as the equipment offered by the venue. But take some time to discuss the eco-friendly capabilities of the venue too. You can ask the venue about their recycling facilities, for example, or if they can provide reusable glasses instead of plastic cups. Query if they have any certification for their recycling and waste management practices, such as the IACC Green Star or LEED.
After you have a good idea of the environmentally-friendly practices offered by the venue, be sure to inform potential guests and stands of these measures. As mentioned above, it can be a great advertising opportunity to make your event stand out.
Other than what the venue can offer, consider green alternatives that you yourself can arrange for your guests. One key trend at the moment is a surge against single-use plastics, and there’s plenty of ways you can help avoid this at your event:
• Glass over plastic — as previously mentioned, opt for reusable glasses rather than plastic disposable cups or bottles.
• Water stations — setting up water stations in and around the main hall, meeting rooms, and halls can be an excellent way to encourage your attendees to use refillable bottles rather than purchasing and bringing single-use plastic bottles of water. They also make for fantastic networking spots!
• No plastic straws — there’s no need to offer plastic straws at your event. If truly required, paper straws should be picked due to their far superior environmentally-friendly nature.
• Go digital — instead of plastic signage, opt for a digital equivalent.
You’ll need to consider the clean up once the exhibition is over. There’re ways to keep the event running green even after the guests have returned home. For example, consider what can be recycled or reused after the event. If your guests have left anything behind, could these items be donated to a worthy cause?
If some of the packaged food on offer to guests was left uneaten, this can be donated food banks in the area to prevent any unnecessary food waste.
If you’re attending a trade show, there’s a greener path available to you too! As with the hosts, start looking at environmentally-friendly methods right from the start of preparation.
If you’re also attending multiple shows across the world, it may be cheaper in the long run, (and indeed more eco-friendly), to invest in a reusable exhibition stand. There are stands available that can be reconfigured to suit various shapes and spaces, such as modular exhibition stands.
If you are attending multiple events around the world, you may well be sending different employees to attend exhibitions at different times. Name badges are a great way to make your representatives at the show look professional, promote your brand, and act as an ice-breaker. Instead of printing individual badges, a greener approach would be to buy some
reusable name badges which can be used across multiple shows through the year by whichever employees you send. This way, you aren’t having to print and laminate new badges every show.
Make sure to have a debriefing session after any exhibition or trade show in order to examine the successes and contacts made as a result of your attendance. It is also a key opportunity to explore any issues that arose — this could include supplies that were or weren’t used in order to remove the latter from future preparations. You can also investigate what practices worked well that might have a greener alternative for next year.
Whether you’re hosting or attending, a greener trade shows is full of benefits that are sure to see them become normal practice in coming years. From building a more positive brand image with wider awareness, to simply being cheaper to maintain, environmentally-friendly practices should be adapted by businesses as soon as possible in order to stay ahead of the game.