While conventions can be very lucrative for the hosting cities, when you stop to think about it, they are anything but beneficial for the environment. Just the amount of fuel required for thousands of people to fly or drive to their convention destination from all over the country—if not from all over the world—is staggering, along with the impact on greenhouse gases.
Fortunately, conventions are getting greener and more sustainable; however, they still have a long way to go. While the good news is that green and sustainable steps are being taken, the better news is that each and every one of us can do our part to move things along considerably.
If we think back to past tradeshows, typically when organizations such as manufacturers were going to exhibit at such a show, they would take the following steps:
- Exhibitors would order hundreds of brochures and printed materials showcasing their products, many if not most of which were used for just a few days by attendees and then simply discarded.
- Often exhibitors would promote their attendance and functions at the tradeshow by sending out scores of “snail mail” invitations in advance — a nice personal touch — but once again, it meant mountains of paper and ink were used to produce such materials.
- Don’t forget the signs. At some of the shows, companies would make new signs and displays just about every year so that their booths looked new and fresh for regular attendees. Once again, most of these items were discarded after the show.
- Some of the larger exhibitors would order food to be brought to the convention floor for a number of people every day of the show; what invariably would happen is that a considerable amount of this food would never get eaten and, once again, go to waste, ending up in trash containers.
So where have we seen improvements? First of all, many if not most of the paper products used at tradeshows are made from recycled paper. And much of this paper is itself recyclable, so this change has reduced waste.
Plus, more and more exhibitors as well as the companies that produce items for tradeshow exhibitors have gotten much more environmentally conscious than they were just a few years ago. Most of these companies are now using materials that have a reduced impact on the environment, whether it is the ink used to make the displays and banners, the paper or materials for the booth itself.