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Exhibitors take steps to minimize their carbon footprints

Editor’s note:
This article is part two in a series reporting on what exhibition companies, exhibitors and tradeshow venues are doing to make the industry environmentally friendly.

Green Footprints

Mother Nature, booth member for Secured Fibres, Secured Fibres, a Las Vegas recycling company, displays first place at the 2010 Business Expo in Las Vegas.

Follow the trail of green footprints, and you will find that the exhibition industry is on the path to sustainability.

Associations are adopting clear environmental policies and making them visible to their members, thus providing opportunities for exhibitors to minimize the carbon footprints left by their shows.

Grassroots organizations, such as the Convene Green Alliance (CGA), are also being formed by the meeting industry to address environmental concerns and promote sustainability.

The mission of the CGA is to affect positive environmental practices through outreach and education. In addition, the Alliance provides comprehensive information and support to associations seeking to create green policies and reduce the environmental footprints of their organizations and events.

According to its website, the CGA supplies online resources, including outlines for organizational policy development, tips for planning greener meetings and green purchasing information.

The CGA also pays tribute to those organizations that are leading efforts toward sustainable meetings by highlighting their efforts on their website.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization in the state of Nevada, has also started a program called the Green Initiative to help small businesses become more eco-friendly.

“Our Business Expo and Preview Las Vegas events both highlight green companies and encourage them to be sustainable at tradeshows,” said Farrow Smith, chair, Green Initiative Committee.

In conjunction with its Green Initiative program, the L.V. Chamber of Commerce challenges its members to compete for the green booth award at its annual Business Expo. Secured Fibres, a Las Vegas recycling company, took first place at the 2010 show.

“As one of the largest recycling entities in Nevada for the past 13 years, we saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate to our customers that we practice what we preach,” said Greg Barker, operations manager, Secured Fibres. “Our team realized that we had a lot of interesting materials on hand that we could use to create our booth and show people recycling and sustainability really work.”

Secured Fibres demonstrated sustainability from their booth’s inception to its tear-down. In addition to selecting building materials from its own recycling facility, the company solicited materials from other Las Vegas Chamber members; including Southwest Greens, an installer of artificial turf made from recyclable materials; Tracy Gehring, a local eco-artist, and Greener Vegas, a non-profit organization that specializes in upcycling or repurposing materials gleaned from the tradeshow industry.

“Our goal was to utilize little-to-no new material in our design and to have an exit-strategy for the booth’s components after the show,” said Barker. “The Chamber’s first-place award of a free booth for next year’s expo was a great incentive for us.”
Borrowed materials were returned to their contributors after the show and the newly constructed props are now available to local organizations for reuse through Greener Vegas.

Secured Fibres also conserved resources by choosing paperless technology. Rather than giving away printed marketing materials, they offered attendees a photo opportunity with a booth member dressed up like Mother Nature. The company then emailed the photos after the show along with their marketing message.

“Our facility destroys thousands of tons of discarded print media every year,” said Barker. “We just didn’t want to be another
company who was contributing to that kind of waste.”

Zachary Delbex, CEO of Greener Vegas, helped to support this project because he believes that green practices enhance the whole show.

“We want to see green be more than a fad,” said Delbex. “We contribute to sustainability by finding solutions before they become a problem, like helping companies donate show items rather than discarding them. A lot of exhibitors are large companies who have environmental standards as their platform. We are working to help companies take responsibility for materials left behind.”

Recently, Freeman donated 150 electric fans to Greener Vegas. The organization partnered with the Las Vegas Urban League to distribute the fans along with 1000 show bags from Infocomm 10 to low-income seniors in the Las Vegas community.

“Our approach has been to go to organizations and get them involved,” said Delbex “We don’t want to be perceived as competition. Associations may sponsor our program at the whole show, or a single booth may want to donate their material back into the community.”

These collaborative efforts of business associations, their members and community organizations continue to advance the tradeshow industry’s ongoing evolution from mean to green.

In part three of this series, ECN will examine how tradeshow venues are moving toward greener practices.



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