5 Ways Show Organizers Can Go Green at Their Next Event

October 23, 2017

Shane Shirley

Shane Shirley is CMO for SBS Brands, a 90-year-old global brand leader focused on creating digital and print business solutions that offers traditional and eco-friendly customized promotional products to accelerate trade show marketing.

Since 2008, there has been a statistic making its way around the Internet that the EPA ranked the trade show industry as the second most wasteful industry - second only to manufacturing. You may have heard this statistic before. I have even used that information in an article I wrote for TSNN. Recently, I decided to look deeper into that stat that gives a bad rap to our industry. What I discovered was that even on the EPA website, I can find no reference to this statistic. Furthermore, many of the articles that referenced the statistic have been removed from the web.

Still, we all know that waste is one of the things we want and need to reduce at meetings, trade shows and events. From reducing plastic and energy use to promoting sustainability, our industry is one that can and should make less of an impact on planet Earth. Here’s how.

1. Choose a Green Venue

The venue itself is a major factor in determining how green your event can be. Construction and waste management processes all contribute to how green a facility can be. Green venues are certified, so it is easy to identify which spaces are eco-friendly. Look for venues with International Green Meeting Certification, like the Cobo Center in Michigan. This certification is awarded by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) which is a non-profit, membership-based professional organization led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2. Hand Out Reusable Trade Show Bags

Takeaways are a staple of trade shows and industry events. Reusable takeaways made from recycled or sustainable materials give an event and brand the benefit of a takeaway that will market the brand at the event, as well as long after the event is over. Eco-friendly trade show bags can be customized to increase a brand’s awareness and recognition, while also staying true to a brand’s green objectives and delivering a great ROI.

3. Offer Eco-Friendly USB Drives

Flash drives are a popular item at trade shows for good reason. They offer a lot of value for both attendees and marketers, and are useful promotional items that attendees love and seek out. Eco-friendly flash drives that feature cases made from bamboo, recycled plastic and even cork, promote sustainability, reduce waste and plastic.

4. Recycle

This is possibly the easiest way to make an event green. It is not feasible to eliminate all waste from an event. However, it is possible to switch to materials that can be recycled and make sure all trash is responsibly handled. Place clearly labeled recycling bins throughout the space during the event. These recycling bins can also be sold as sponsorships. To better streamline waste management, make sure there is an option to recycle larger materials leftover after the exhibitors pack up.

5. Use Eco-Friendly Materials

Green up your displays by choosing eco-friendly retractable banners and working with companies like Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays. It is important to create a display that is eye-catching, but it is easier than ever before to create a display that is visually stunning and eco-friendly.

Integrating any of these changes into your event planning can have a positive impact. Going all in and including all of these changes can seriously change things for the better. What do you do to make your events green?

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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact