For many of us – with the blindfold still on – there are plenty of (outdated) connotations and stereotypes about what an eco-friendly trade show exhibit might look like. Personally, I imagined something fairly simple and not particularly stunning, perhaps made of cardboard, wood, recycled plastic, or something. This is the ‘old green’ stereotype. But the sustainable, eco-friendly display industry has come a long way in just the last few years. “These days you have to get people involved (in the display products) and get them to really see the latest sustainable exhibits because of all the old pre-conceived notions,” (Eric Albery, Eco-Systems™ Sustainable Exhibits).
Nowadays, green trade show eco-displays are not recycled cardboard, wood, and recycled plastics. “There are lots of new sustainable display construction materials available now. We use aluminum extrusion for durable framework, a special fabric – we invented, made of recycled soda bottles – that looks and feels like standard trade show fabrics, bamboo flooring, LED lighting, and so much more. There are literally no design limitations in the industry today; we manufacture long-lasting green – sustainable – exhibits that easily compete with nearly anything in trade show exhibits…and often at lower pricing,” (E. Albery). The ‘new green’ in trade show displays is absolutely sleek, powerful, spectacular, and every bit as durable as standard trade show exhibits.
Yes, due to technological innovation and production, the actual raw (eco-friendly display) materials are much more readily available, costing the manufacturer less. Further those exclusive manufacturers of green trade show exhibits can save distributors money, because their costs are less, in turn lowering the investment of the end-user. In fact, the matter of ‘green products’ costing more just isn’t true anymore in the trade show exhibit industry.
Environmentally responsible graphics are evolving as well. Although dye sublimation printing processes remain the industry standard for stunning, 3D graphics, there are water-based inks that are low solvent, as well as soy ink. “Soy ink is the future. I predict that within eighteen months to two years, soy ink processes will have evolved far enough to rival dye sub techniques, with very low VOC,” (E. Albery).
In my research, I found that – regarding the trade show waste footprint – it is not so much the actual exhibits themselves that create so much waste, as it is the garbage created by the show. “According to the EPA, trade shows are the #2 producer of waste, behind construction” (www.meetcsi.com/green.html/). I found that statistic hard to believe, but it’s true. We see construction every day, so it’s not difficult to imagine that construction ranks the highest in terms of waste…but trade shows? Well, “…we just don’t see that there are thousands of trade show events and conferences happening each day. It is trash – before, during, and after each show – that is the biggest culprit, of which carpeting makes up a huge part, followed by packing materials, and other non-recycled waste,” (Eric Albery, Eco-Systems™ Sustainable Exhibits). Yes, it is enormous volumes of non-sustainable garbage, combined with energy consumption and other utility depletion that makes trade shows so wasteful.
To wrap up, if you are a trade show veteran, or a newbie to trade shows, you should really think about investing in an eco-friendly green trade show display because they now rival standard display systems on every front: in structural design, visual appeal, and cost as well. In just a few short years, green trade show displays have become every bit the industry standard in quality, dependability, satisfaction, and cost. Make your display a green display and be proud of it!