In the most recent edition of Exhibitor Magazine, editor Travis Stanton wrote about his recent quest to find the source of a troubling statistic. Originally published in an article for Trade Show Week, a report was supposedly issued by the Environmental Protection Agency which claims that trade shows are the second biggest source of commercial waste in the United States. After six months of digging, Stanton finally got to the bottom of the issue by contacting the Trade Show Week writer (Lisa Plummer) directly. The report never existed.
Stanton goes on to analyze how a statistic with no supporting evidence made its way into countless articles and press releases over the past few months. He concludes that it is the “hunger for answers and data” related to green exhibiting that drove the article to be written and the unfounded statistic to be quoted again and again. Stanton does well to bring the truth to light without embarrassing Lisa Plummer, who wrote the original article.
With a well written article behind him, Stanton then makes the quintessential blunder that we see all too often with members of the media. Tossed haphazardly into an otherwise well written article is a paragraph designed to create fear and unnecessarily clutter the green exhibiting landscape. According to Stanton, “Green exhibiting is a tad scary on several levels.” Let’s take a look at those levels:
Level 1 – “…exhibitors are justifiably afraid of being perceived as greenwashers.”
Exhibitors may be afraid, but their fear is not justifiable. (“Greenwashing” is defined as: disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.) Companies can easily stave off any accusations of greenwashing by taking a few simple steps:
- Make sure you purchase an eco-friendly trade show display in the first place. Do your research, and seek out companies with a commitment to environmental responsibility. Ask for details regarding the sustainability of your exhibit, and make sure the details provided line up with your idea of what constitutes a green exhibit.
- Take information regarding your green exhibit to the trade show with you, so that you can prove your claims if needed.
- Most importantly, don’t worry about what other companies think of you. Set out to do the right thing for your company, and ignore the jabs from your competitors. Any worthwhile trade show marketing strategy will have an eye on the long term, and if you go green before it’s fashionable, you’ll eventually (if not immediately) be pleased with your decision.
Level 2 – “…suppliers are unsure what constitutes a green exhibit in the first place,”
*Insert buzzer noise* Wrong.
Every manufacturer knows exactly what constitutes a green exhibit. Most suppliers are not unsure about what it takes to go green, they are unsure about how they can go green without incurring the massive costs associated with a complete overhaul of their production systems. In the coming years, manufacturers who delay in undertaking the overhaul will be floundering (thanks in large part to exhibitors nationwide who have decided to take a stand). Manufacturers may be unsure about what it will look like for their company in particular to go green, but they certainly understand what constitutes a green exhibit. Just in case there is any doubt, I’ll make it clear for all you manufacturers out there:
- Green displays have to be lightweight and portable.
- Green displays have to be made from recycled and recyclable materials.
- Green displays have to be produced in low-emissions, low-waste facilities that would stand up to inspections made by distributors of green exhibits (like MODdisplays).
- Green displays should be modular.
- Green displays should last longer than standard displays.
- Green displays should not be made from toxic/harmful materials.
- Green displays should not be made from scarce/endangered materials.
If you don’t believe that manufacturers know what it takes to go green, take a look at Pascale Engineering, a producer of portable exhibits. They were green long before it was fashionable. Their facility is powered 100% by wind energy, and they produce exhibits from recycled and recyclable materials. Their products are designed to pack into small, lightweight cases (similar exhibits require a number of heavy cases to acheive the same effect), and every exhibit they sell is modular (you can use every part in many different configurations, eliminating the need to produce specific pieces for each specific need). The entire facility throws away less trash per day than an average family of four (given their scale of production, this is absolutely astounding), and they publish facts about their eco-efforts for all to read.
Level 3 – “…everyone’s more than a little apprehensive about the sizeable initial investment it allegedly takes to go green”
Mr. Stanton, I’m glad you said allegedly. Our customers don’t seem the slightest bit apprehensive because our eco-friendly booths simply don’t cost any more than exhibits that are not environmentally-friendly. At MODdisplays, we serve customers who are looking for custom-looking exhibits at a costs that would make custom exhibit houses cringe, and we can do it for our customers thanks to the modular capabilities of our display systems.
The 26% premium exhibitors allegedly pay for green exhibits is a fact of the current market thanks largely to manufacturers and distributors who don’t know what they’re doing. You won’t pay that premium at MODdisplays.
Let’s stop scaring exhibitors away from green booths by planting unnecessary worries in their minds. There are companies out there who know what it takes to go green, and who can help you do it for less money than you might think possible. Our exhibitors aren’t scared of being labeled as greenwashers because they are confident that they have made an honest effort to go green.