4 Tips for a Sustainable Trade Show

Sustainability is making a comeback from the recession as the trade show industry grows stronger. And the recession has helped make the case for what is a more cost-effective way to do business, according to Tom Bowman, chairman of the Bowman Design Group and author of The Green Edge: How Sustainability Can Help Exhibit and Meeting Planners Save Money and Build Stronger Brands.

“Everybody who has embraced sustainability will tell you sustainability is smart business. It’s really productive,” Bowman says.

See also: Greening the Expo Industry

Without training in sustainable business practices, it can be difficult for show managers to know how to identify and implement green practices. Bowman offers simple yet powerful practices that promise cost savings and brand development.

  1. Require green partners. Much of what a show organizer does depends on what exhibitors and contractors do for the show. So it’s important to require that all bidders who are going to be your chief suppliers present their sustainability plans.
  2. Partner with a green venue. Pick a green venue, and investigate their green claims. Then work with the venue to find sustainability opportunities—transportation, food, drayage, etc.
  3. Consider the waste that’s generated by the show. Require recycling, use compostable materials.
  4. Create a paperless trade show. It’s an unimaginable goal at the beginning, but thinking in those terms reveals many preparations and on-site documents that can shift to an electronic format. Leverage the show app and create electronic documents to store in the app. Require presenters to provide all materials in electronic form.

“All things being equal, there’s a lot of evidence that people will choose the sustainable option versus a non-sustainable option,” Bowman says.