When is green not green?
Recently a client told me about a “green product” tradeshow for businesses to showcase for purchasing agents at a large local governmental facility.
When I wrote for information about participating, I received a reply that said that, based on our website, our products are not green. I was flabbergasted. Then I realized, it was just a matter of perception: we’re not selling anything “solar”, don’t provide organic cleaning materials, and trees don’t get planted in the Amazon basin through our efforts.
Because we DO sell “green”. The last several years have seen the development of many “green” or at least “greener” products for exhibiting at tradeshows.
What makes a tradeshow display product “green” or “eco-friendly”?
When one or more of the following are true:
- Designed to use less materials, reducing both direct and indirect impact on the Earth.
- Uses less or no VOC inks in the printing of the graphics – referring to Volatile Organic Compounds which give off toxic gas fumes. Think of your typical “ink” smell. Now, erase that smell, and you see the difference.
- Replacing toxic PVC-based vinyl graphic panels (printed using VOC inks) with fabric material (printed using low or no-VOC inks).
- Built with significant amounts of recycled materials – e.g. plastic bottles turned into fabric panels and old aluminum within new extrusions. This not only reduces what goes into landfills, it helps preserve natural resources that otherwise would need to be extracted, prepared and shipped.
- Many components can be recycled after use.
- Designed-in flexibility allows components to be re-used instead of being jettisoned after one show, or used only rarely. They can often be re-configured either for small 10’x10′ or 10’x20′ booths and as elements within larger island exhibits.
- Designed to reduce weight, dramatically, which minimizes the jetfuel and gasoline required to ship them. Not just by a few pounds but in many cases by half, three-quarters or even more. Why set up carbon offsets when you can reduce the carbon load?
- As a side-benefit of their re-configurable and light-weight structures, these display products generally require much less time to install and dismantle, reducing I&D costs, or removing them entirely.
- Collapsible aluminum structures, constructed from smaller components, means smaller storage requirements too.
- Easy adaptability. A change in branding or message requires nothing more than printing and sending light-weight fabric panels weighing a few pounds, in what could be as small a package as an overnight letter!
As you see, many of our display products and the processes used to decorate them are directly and indirectly “green”, whether or not it is obvious.
So hearing about our “not being green” did make made me realize that there’s still a need – on my part and on the part of many people in the tradeshow and event industry – to explain that everything that is “green” does not need to contain solar panels.
In fact, I am surprised at the number of “green” businesses which exhibit at tradeshows using very un-“green” displays.
Looking to green your tradeshow booth or event display products?
The rep of “green” products, in any industry, is that they must cost more. As you can see from the above list, even when products occasionally have higher up-front costs, many of the costs associated with shipping, storage, drayage and I&D are so reduced, that very soon, your earth-friendly products have become budget-friendly as well.
We are dedicate to helping our clients understand and act on green initiatives, in a cost-effective way, whether it’s a big push or an incremental-over-time policy change.
We’ve started coding products to make it easier to spot what is green, and why. If there are any questions about your options, and how to move in the green direction – we’re happy to help.
~ Look for an upcoming list of The Twelve (Easiest) Ways to Green Your Tradeshow ~
Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals. She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.