Exhibitions are a great place to showcase your brand, meet potential customers and suppliers, and present your company to industry peers. With a stand comes design, construction, lighting, carpeting, tech products, and marketing collateral. How much of this can we reduce, reuse or recycle if we really thought about it? Quite a lot.
Research from ‘World Travel Market’ has found that for every tonne of waste that is produced at an exhibition, 70% is made from materials that cannot be re-used or recycled, 20% of waste is produced due to lack of proper planning about the amount of resources required, and only 10% is unavoidable waste that is unable to be reused or recycled….but it doesn’t have to be this way!
To truly be sustainable at exhibitions then you must include a full sustainability strategy early in the planning process.
Here’s some things to consider…
The design of your stand should meet your objectives whilst considering the most sustainable way on which to execute all required elements. Reusing your materials and stand assets is savvy, and cost effective, especially if you exhibit in multiple locations. Stand designs that allow materials to be used again for other exhibitions, or repurposing for other projects, wastes less material and can further reduce unnecessary costs for your clients.
Traditional lighting devours a lot of power, choosing different light fittings by making use of LOW power LED lighting which now has unlimited possibilities. Not only do they save a lot of electricity they also have a much longer shelf life.
Another note – if you plan to offer on-stand catering, avoid using disposable cutlery and crockery – grab that washing up bowl and install water and waste on the stand …#tooeasy!
Take advantage of local or regional representatives to staff the stand, rather than bringing personnel from distant offices, to reduce travel costs.
For one off exhibitions buy materials locally, reducing shipping costs and lowering emissions and consider the many ways to lower your carbon footprint by using more compact transportable designs with lighter materials.
For global exhibitions consider the difference between building locally and shipping globally. Depending on the design and size of your stand, one may be more sustainable than the other.
Place recycling bins in your booth providing visitors an opportunity to do their bit and help make a difference.
Go digital as much as you can.
- iPads for presentations instead of brochures
- Emails or LinkedIn instead of business cards
- Memory sticks instead of leaflets
- Registration with bar code scanners, or iPads
Thousands of leaflets, brochures, cards and paper are wasted by exhibitors each year in excessive printing. If you do need printed materials, paper is available in both recycled format or from sustainably managed sources at no extra cost.
Choose your marketing collateral wisely, can it be recycled? Can it be reused? If not, why not, and is there an alternative you could use.
- Any leftover free pens, bags, keyrings, notepads give them to charity or use them for your next event
- Have branded carrier bags that are reusable such as cotton, or hemp rather than disposable plastic bags
- Try electronic freebies instead of stationary, such as free songs from iTunes, coupons and so on…
Finally remember there is always one more thing you can do that is provide a more sustainable solution. So ask yourself the question ‘Is there a better way?’ When developing and designing a stand solution. If you keep sustainability in mind during the entire exhibition process, you will always result in a more sustainably positive solution.
Ed Vickery – Head of drpexhibition