How to make your exhibition stand design more Eco-friendly
Posted by Tom Oakes
The world is changing. We are all more aware of the impact we each have on our environment and as a society far more savvy in ensuring that we minimise that impact. The exhibition and trade show industry, historically considered rather wasteful and environmentally unfriendly has taken great strides to ensure it is doing what it can to keep pace with societies progressive attitudes.
So, what is the industry doing and do you have to go modular to go green? In this blog I am going to look at the various ways you can still get the bespoke exhibition stand design you want and minimise your environmental impact.
Understanding the problem
In order to solve a problem we first have to understand the problem. Exhibitions and Trade shows by their nature are temporary and as such sustainability tends to lie last on the list of demands when it comes to design. An exhibition stand needs to exist for several days at the most, it needs to be able to be installed, dismantled and transported quickly and efficiently whilst still often times giving the impression of permanence. A trade show at its essence is an opportunity for information to be passed on quickly business to business or business to consumer. Despite the advancements in modern technology the exhibition industry still relies heavily on printed media in order to do this. This leads to a lot of waste. Anyone who has seen the aftermath of a trade show or exhibition has seen the amount of paper and literature left strewn across the hall. In addition to the obvious waste inherent in exhibiting there is a wider issue regards logistics and transport. Hosting and organising a trade show leads to a mass gathering of visitors and delegates from all over the world converging on one place, this means planes, trains and automobiles as well as the shipping and haulage of stands from all corners. Overall, it does not paint a good picture of the environmental impact the exhibition and trade show industry can have. However, in an ever changing world of advancing technology there will always be an inherent desire within business for face to face contact. It is how we build bonds, assess our competitors, make deals and ultimately this means that trade shows very much still have their place in a globalised world.
So, with the above in mind we need to think of ways that we can make exhibiting cleaner, more efficient and ultimately more environmentally friendly.
High impact without a high Environmental impact
Firstly, let’s look at what we all want to achieve with an exhibition stand design. We want it to stand out, look great, high impact, be seen, engage, visually stun people, none of which is really conducive with keeping things eco-friendly or so you would think. The first thing to consider is how you wish to use your stand. Are you attending one show or are you planning on using the same stand at multiple shows. Both options throw up there own set of difficulties when considering your environmental impact.
One show – If your long term marketing strategy does not include more than one show then often times it is imperative that you make a big impact at the show you have chosen. This can mean larger structures built and integrated in to your stand which means more materials which are generally harder to transport, install and dismantle. By thinking outside the box with your stand design however, you can reduce your environmental impact. Exhibiting at height needn’t be a problem with new tension fabric graphics readily available creating seamless canopies. Making sure you source a responsible contractor committed to using the most eco-friendly materials on the market is essential. We will discuss this further below.
When using a stand for one show there are two elements that definitely need to be considered above all else, transport and disposal. By sourcing a contractor who has their own transport and logistics you can minimise your carbon foot print by ensuring your stand has to travel the least possible distance to the show of your choice. Choosing a supplier conveniently located to major transport links is also important. An end to end to exhibition supplier also has the advantage of been able to produce everything in one place. No lengthy journeys between offices for meetings and consultation.
Disposing of your stand correctly and to the highest possible environmental standards is extremely important in helping you to be more eco-friendly. Make sure when sourcing your designer and contractor that you get assurances that your exhibition stand will be disposed of correctly,
Multiple shows – When designing a stand to attend multiple shows, of course high impact still falls high on the list of priorities but functionality becomes much more prevalent. You want a stand that can perform the same at various shows in various locations throughout the show floor on potentially different size floor spaces. In thinking long term and booking your shows early you give the best opportunity for your designer to design a stand that will be more eco-friendly. By thinking of your stand in more manageable components that can be re-configured and re-used you create a much more environmentally efficient stand. Again, tension fabric graphics are a great efficient option for exhibiting at height and using sustainable materials is still important. By creating a more flexible design you may lose some of the visual impact a stand based around a large structure can offer you but you will end up with a much more functional stand, easier to transport and install but still with a bespoke feel.
When exhibiting at multiple shows you need to take in to account storage. Choosing a contractor that can safely store and deliver your stand to multiple shows is important. Again, by using an end to end exhibition supplier with their own logistics and storage you are minimising your stands carbon footprint.
The number of different materials that go in to making an exhibition stand can be staggering depending on the style and design you choose. Paint, Laminate, carpet, Hardwood, Softwood, MDF, Perspex, glass, laminate flooring, carpet, aluminium, steel, canvas, lighting, electrics the list goes on and on. Firstly, choosing a contractor that can work with such a varied array of materials is important but finding one that is committed to sourcing sustainable products will be considered by most equally important.
There are ample products now available on the market to help reduce the environmental impact of exhibiting. From mixed weave carpet that can be fully recycledto low energy LED lighting, make sure you remember to ask your designer where the products on your stand will be sourced and do your research.
Delivering your message
As mentioned at the outset of this blog, the exhibition industry is still dominated by printed media. Leaflets, brochures and catalogues still litter exhibition halls. In trying to reduce the environmental impact of exhibiting this becomes a huge problem. We have an in-built instinct to physically provide a potential customer with something tangible to take away with them but we all know inevitably, this type of printed literature ends up in the bin. Visitors to an exhibition stand now expect a far more sophisticated approach to the way information is delivered to them. By exploring new ways in which we can deliver information we are automatically becoming more eco-friendly. Most visitors carry with them a smart phone or tablet. By using a QR code directing people to an online resource you can reduce waste. Providing USB sticks or having IPad’s on your stands where you can access your products and email information directly to people can also decrease your environmental impact.
The exhibition industry is still far from perfect when it comes to being environmentally friendly but by being more conscious of the issue we can work together to make sure we strive to be better.
If you would like to discuss ways in which you can ensure your exhibition stand maximises its visual impact whilst being as environmentally friendly as possible contact Astro Exhibitions.
For help creating a successful exhibition stand design brief, download our free eBook.