Reducing Your Exhibit’s Ecological Footprint

Shape Shape Shape Shape

We all want to do the right thing. Eliminating the waste in an exhibit program is just one example of changes where we can make a difference. Yet, often company’s shy away because of a misconception that having a green exhibit adds to the overall cost.
Your exhibit and all that it entails can have a tremendous impact on the environment. With a little mindfulness you can take measures to ensure that you are doing your part.

The place to start is when you are developing an RFP. This is your chance to let vendors know what is important to your organization, to minimize the impact of your exhibit on the environment and to ensure that they incorporate your values into proposals they prepare for you. You should also open a dialogue with your show manager about your environmental concerns. Although a good number of these people have already undertaken green initiatives, letting them know your concerns can open the possibilities of new initiatives and reinforces the importance of those already in place.

Think Green

Here are some considerations to be shared with your show manager and vendors:

  • Ask about the availability of electric forklifts and hand carts to move freight.
  • Coordinate with show management to schedule your move-in and out as much as possible to times where there is a reduction in the need for electrical power
  • Minimize the weight of shipments to and from the show site carefully to reduce not only costs but the impact.
  • Use show provided reusable/recycle bins.
  • Ask about and then participate in any recycling program that has been undertaken by the facility.
  • Ask your staff and encourage your customers who will attend the show to patronize airlines, hotels and restaurants that have a program in place to reduce their footprint.
  • Use recyclable, biodegradable shipping and packing materials.
  • For printed materials and display graphics, use soy, vegetable or water based inks.
  • Use a local on-demand printer for collateral
  • Print on recycled paper
  • Use recyclable materials for the display.
  • When wood is needed for the display, buy it locally.
  • Reuse or refurbish existing displays to extend the life-span.
  • Buy or rent floor coverings made from ecologically friendly materials.
  • Use environmentally responsible give-aways.
  • Arrange to have excess products donated rather than shipped back to your location.
  • Let all your stakeholders (staff, the show manager, vendors and customers) know about your environmental initiatives and encourage them to participate.

Checklists are a great tool to use in your show planning. I found two on the web. One was created by and the other was found in an article by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry titled OMSI Green Exhibit Certification – a cost-saving tool for the exhibition field. The links are below.


Doing the right thing is not accomplished alone and in a vacuum. The three most important elements of your green program are: communicate….communicate…communicate.

The more people you can encourage by drawing them into your ecological initiatives the greater the impact. What begins as a small change now holds the possibility of building into real change that will have a positive affect on everything that is important.

Once there was a considerable cost attached to doing the right thing. More recently the cost differential has become negligible. The next time you are planning your next exhibit ensure that your green initiatives are reflected in your face-to-face marketing endeavours.

© 2014 by Barry Siskind. Barry Siskind is author of Powerful Exhibit marketing. He is also President of International Training and Management Company who offers a number of services to exhibitors including the creation and implementation of a mystery-shopping program. Contact Barry at for more information

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