If you have ever been on a trade show floor one hour after the show closes you have seen the amazing amount of waste. There is paper, cardboard, all sorts of giveaways, lumber…you name it. Once, I even saw koi fish that had been on display in a booth. Trade shows and expositions are often the component of a conference or event that has the most significant impact on the environment. Exhibitions use large amounts of energy, require considerable transportation, and generate a tremendous amount of waste—all of which affect the health of the planet.

In fact, statistics show us one three-day conference-trade show with 500 booths is estimated to use:
– 617,000 KwH electricity
– 28,000 therms natural gas
– 376,000 gallons of fuel

And produces 8 million tons of carbon dioxide! Now that is one big carbon footprint!

There are really four parties who can work together to minimize this footprint: the facility, the general services contractor, the exhibitors and the planner. As the meeting planner, here are a few things I ask our exhibitors to do:

– Participate in the facility’s recycling program as well as donate locally. Remember to train your booth staff to assist with this process.
– Minimize packaging materials on all booth items and use environmentally responsible packing materials.
– Avoid large quantities of collateral. Provide information electronically whenever possible.
– If printed materials can’t be avoided, they should use vegetable-based ink and 30% minimum post-consumer, recycled paper.
– Provide environmentally responsible giveaways and ensure they are not made from endangered or threatened species (you wouldn’t think we would have to say that).
– Design displays to be made with environmentally responsible materials including energy efficient lighting.
– Make signage from recycled materials and reuse or donate it after the show.
– Minimize transportation to and from show site. Use bio-diesel fueled or alternative fuel trucks. – Offset transportation emissions with a carbon offset program.

Exhibitors are your partners in the greening of the exhibit hall–enroll and entice them. Watch for my next blog on how to do just that!