Go Ahead & Go Green!

by Erin Sweeney, National Sales Associate, GES

Erin SweeneyI would have never thought working for a company that specializes in the events and tradeshow industry would lead to a passion for sustainability. In fact, the events and tradeshow business sector of the world has one of the largest, negative impacts on the environment. Mass produced registration handouts, annually printed posters and banners, and over ordering food and beverage can all be wasteful and damaging to the environment. With baby steps in the right direction, making a green difference may be easier than you think.

Keep in mind the three “R’s”; reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce; Have you ever heard of K.I.S.S. ? For those of you who have not, it is a simple reminder to “Keep It Simple Stupid.” (Quick side not – no I do not think you are stupid!) But let’s be realistic. Sometimes less really is more. Did you really need to order that many registration totes? Did all of those event pamphlets get put to use? How much signage is too much signage? Simplicity of an event creates a clean and precise delivery and execution. Remember, keep it simple.

Reuse; Remember those 500 totes that you had no idea what to do with after your event because it had the event date and year on them? First things first, do not throw them away. There are many, many ways that something like this can be reused. First, consider branding your giveaways differently. Maybe use the event logo, or hosting association’s logo. This way, the giveaway can be used at other events. Second, donate! Set up a donation program at your next event. Whether it is giveaways, or items from exhibit booths, reuse these items by donating them to local charities and organizations. Groups such as McDonald’s and National Safety Council work with local groups at their events to donate anything from décor to safety gloves. Work with your venue to create a plan and execute and reach out to local charities to see if they are interested in your reusable products..

Recycle; Do I need to say more? Recycling starts from the very early stages of planning your event. Consider using recyclable material when designed graphics for your event. The stigma is that going green also takes a hit on the green coming from your corporate card – but that is not always the case. More and more options are coming available and may be more affordable than you think. Once it comes to actually recycling event materials, again, communicate with your contractor and venue that this is something you are interested in and you may be surprised with the success of your results! For instance, I recently worked on Texas Safety Council Conference and Expo at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The internal sustainability team at the convention center had never executed a sustainability program as was requested, yet we worked together to make sure it was executed seamlessly. It was a learning experience from all aspects.

There are many little steps that our industry can take together to become more green. Whether it is becoming APEX/ASTM certified like Global Experience Specialists, or starting a sustainability movement from scratch like National Safety Council, there is always something you can do to make a difference.

For ideas on how to be green, please feel free to email me; [email protected]

Are you interested in submitting a blog? Submissions can be sent to IAEE MWC Chapter Coordinator, Elizabeth Haley at [email protected]