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Big Results, Small Footprint: 4 Tips for a Green Trade Show Presence

Attending trade shows probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking of ways to improve your company’s sustainability polices. In fact, it has been documented that the trade show industry is second only to the construction industry in the amount of yearly waste it creates. That’s unfortunate, but it’s also an opportunity for a progressive-thinking company to begin the admirable work of reversing that trend. Putting together a “green” trade show presence will not only help curtail the waste of a cavalier industry, but raise your company’s public sustainability profile as well.

Here are four easy ways to make your trade show presence a bit greener:

1)     Use green booth materials

Any presence at a trade show starts with a booth, and you’d be surprised at the number of sustainable options that have become available in this area in just the past two or three years. Some of the alternatives to traditional exhibit hardware include fabric graphics made out of recycled water bottles, banner stands created from FSC-approved bamboo, backdrop frames extruded from recycled aluminum and super-low-energy consumption LED bulbs for illumination. It may take a little extra legwork to find these, but not that much — and don’t be afraid to ask all your vendors for sustainable alternatives.

2)    Print on recycled paper

Company representatives at trade shows usually give away vast amounts of marketing collateral and business cards, so make sure all your employees’ cards are printed on cardstock made from 100% post-consumer waste. These days, just about any printer worth dealing with will have this stock as an option, and sometimes it is even more cost effective than using standard card stock.

3)    Choose sustainable giveaways

Of course, you want something that is going to help your company stand out from the other 200 enterprises handing out business cards, and clever promotional giveaways are a time-tested way of achieving that. This is another area where a bit of imagination and extra effort can produce something that is both “worth keeping” and sustainable. Instead of a branded plastic water bottle or synthetic petroleum-derived iPhone sleeve, why not hand out an FSC-approved wooden flash drive? This can be etched with your company logo and, if loaded with a fact sheet, Power Point presentation, or video extolling the virtues of your company, can even take the place of printed handouts that in all likelihood are bound to be discarded anyway.

4)    Plan ahead

Finally, and perhaps most simply, you can also reduce your environmental footprint by planning early. Ship all your new environmentally-friendly hardware and collateral by ground instead of air. Book your lodging early so you can ensure you get a room at or near the event — most convention centers have an adjoining hotel that usually offer special reduced show rates if you book before a certain date. This will cut down on cab usage to and from the event every day, every little bit helps!

With just a bit of foresight and conscientious planning, even a traditionally “unsustainable” event like a trade show can become a venue showcasing real and beneficial changes in the way companies conduct business. All it takes is an innovator like you!

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