Green issues are irrefutably the Zeitgeist of the modern age. ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ is the mantra of many an organisation keen to
demonstrate their ecological credentials. They print on recycled paper, fill their offices with energy efficient light bulbs, and keenly tout their environmental policy in an effort to jump on the ‘green bus’ as fast as they possibly can. However, many have a dirty secret and it’s exhibiting.
Anyone who’s seen the aftermath of an exhibition show knows the problem. One-use custom build stands made out of unsustainably harvested wood, thousands of dumped leaflets, and tonnes of left over cardboard and plastic all contribute to the 300 million tonnes of waste we produce every year in the UK.(1) Hauling large and heavy exhibition materials around the country results in a substantial carbon footprint, as well as a great deal of wasted transport and labour costs.
Going green isn’t simply about saying the right things; it’s a long term ethnical investment that needs to comprehensively manifest itself through every aspect of an organisation. That’s why exhibiting green is imperative for brands who genuinely understand the importance of reducing their commercial waste. “Our clients exhibit green because it shows they walk the walk. Exhibitions are a time when you place your brand under a lot of consumer and press scrutiny so we work hard to make sure our client’s stand matches their brand’s green values,” says Alan Jenkins, Managing Director of Quadrant2Design.
Chloe Anderton, Design Director at Quadrant2Design, regularly works to produce environmentally friendly exhibition stands. “Prestige is a
modular exhibition system that allows our clients to reconfigure and reuse their stands at other shows; reworking a modular stand means you can reduce your waste and emissions by building a completely different stand from the same frames and graphics,” says Chloe. “As Prestige is lightweight and modular, it allows our clients to get a custom-build look without the hassle, weight and environmental damage that so often accompanies them.”
Emailing brochures and using QR codes to direct visitors to your marketing material helps reduce the amount of printed material on your stand. If you want to have leaflets make sure they’re produced using environmentally friendly inks and recycled paper. “Recycling one ton of paper saves enough energy to power the average home for six months so it’s really important to use recycled paper whenever possible,” says Alan.
Avoiding the use of wood, especially from unsustainable sources, helps to prevent deforestation whereas using lightweight aluminium helps to extend the life of your stand and reduce transportation loads, allowing for more fuel and carbon efficient travelling. “A traditional 10×10 metre custom build stand would require a 7.5 tonne lorry and 7-8 men to transport and build, which results in a lot of carbon emissions and hassle. The equivalent Prestige exhibition stand needs only 2-3 men and a medium sized van,” explains Alan. In addition, aluminium is the only metal that is infinitely recyclable which, combined with its scrap metal value, means that nearly 75% of the all the aluminium mined since 1889 is still in use today.(2)
The industry is certainly moving in the right direction; we are recycling more and starting to purchase reusable modular exhibition stands rather than wasteful one-use custom builds. If we want to continue this progress, sustainability needs to stop being a superficial buzzword used by eco-wannabes. We need to be proud when we do the right thing, and challenge those who are keen to tout their green credentials only to engage in wasteful practices when it doesn’t suit them. There is plenty we can do to cut our waste and reduce our carbon emissions, all it requires is some thought and dedication.
For more information on how to exhibit green with the Prestige system contact the Quadrant2Design Consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.prestige-system.com.