5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Event ‘Greener’

This month, Tom Bowman, founder of the Bowman Design Group, sustainability consultant and author, is launching his new book for the event industry, The Green Edge: How Sustainability Can Help Exhibit and Meeting Planners Save Money and Build Stronger Brands.

The 163-page book is filled with practical information and tools to help managers make their events more “green,” but EXPO asked Bowman to identify specific actions that would have the greatest positive environmental impact if they were employed by event organizers.

• Select an airline hub location. Reducing gasoline-powered travel is one of the greatest ways to cut back on greenhouse-gas emissions. An event organizer can make a positive impact by choosing a destination that most attendees can reach by public transportation or a single flight. Each attendee who has to take a connecting flight while traveling to your event will use almost twice the amount of fossil fuel energy as one flying direct over the same distance.

• Reduce private car use. In the ideal event location, attendees can get to every event activity by walking. If that’s not possible, arrange shuttle buses. This may be an extra cost, but you may be able to find sponsors happy to align themselves with the green message.

• Include sustainability in vendor proposals. “As an event organizer, you can require that contractors bidding to work on your event have a sustainability policy,” Bowman says. “You don’t have to become an expert in terms of defining sustainability. Just make the best choice once you see the policies submitted.”

• Provide guidance to exhibitors. There are many ways to reduce waste at a trade show, but those choices are ultimately in the hands of the exhibitors. However, Bowman says, a show organizer can make recommendations. One of the biggest environmental culprits at a show is shipping and packing materials, so an organizer can encourage exhibitors to reuse shipping boxes, bubble wrap and paper, and use the pre-show information to guide exhibitors toward local vendors who can rent booths, eliminating the need for shipping.

Most show information is now online, from registration through floor plans, so the show organizer can show leadership in sustainability by minimizing printing as much as possible. Bowman says the use of a mobile app for a show, instead of printed maps and schedules, is helpful for the environment as well as practical for showgoers.

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