Tips for Planning a Greener Event
Making your Trade Show Environmentally Friendly

Beyond the social and environmental benefits we all experience, thinking green can give your company the competitive advantage that comes with a good reputation.

The first question you should ask is whether it is even necessary to hold an event or travel to a trade show. If you decide a face-to-face meeting is necessary, you can still plan for an event that will be less costly for the environment.

To create a greener event, you have to closely consider everything you buy. This includes all services, display products, transportation of materials and staff, food, hotels, brochures and giveaways.

Send invitations to prospects and customers via e-mail and electronic newsletters. Book a shipping company that uses environmentally friendly transportation, for example trains or vehicles that run on renewable resources. You can also minimize CO2 emissions by choosing a greener transportation to your event location. The train is a good choice, and if you decide to go by car, travel together with your staff. If you have to fly to an event, consider paying a fee to a carbon offset program. Travel light -- the heavier the plane gets, the more fuel it takes to run it.

Food - Most event venues have recycling stations. Make sure to recycle cans and bottles. Consider what food is in season for the local area and avoid foods that have been shipped in from different climates. Buying locally produced food instead of individually packed fast food items is not only more environmentally friendly, but lets you add a more personal touch and offers a healthier choice to your visitors. Avoid food waste by checking how many registered visitors there are. Use reusable cups, glasses, cutlery and plates. Serve filtered water instead of giving away plastic water bottles. Buy fair trade coffees and teas.

Display products - Use display products that you can reuse at other events and share with other departments. Most portable systems allow you to change your messages with your campaigns.

Check what kind of materials your supplier’s products are of, how they control the manufacturing process and if they recycle old systems.

Hotels - Choose a hotel that is close to public transportation. Try finding a hotel that has a sustainability policy that includes one or more of the following; locally produced food and drinks, energy efficient lighting and heating, water efficiency, recycling for paper, cans, glass, plastic and metals, notes to reuse the hotel towel and more.

Present your company digitally instead of handing out promotion materials. Explain your green view to your visitors and ask them to download PDFs from your website. If you collect customer information electronically you will have a great reason to contact them after the show. It will also get you a lot of leads for your CRM system.

Send surveys electronically instead of via the post office.

Use reusable name tags for your staff and collect them at the end of the show. If you hand out brochure, product sheets or other printed materials make sure it’s printed on recycled paper and that bags are made from recycled plastic or nicer fabric shopping bag the customer could use after the show.

If you have a contest make sure your prizes are made in ethically and in environmentally-friendly way.