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    Greening in the Exhibition Industry

    The exhibition industry has a notorious reputation for wastefulness with stands and many of their fixtures and fittings being skipped at the end of an event. But now things are looking up and the industry is giving itself a much needed green-over.

    The last decade has seen a real shift in attitude: ’There’s an increasing emphasis on long term thinking and coupling sustainability with creativity.’

    Sustainability is going mainstream in the exhibition industry. It looks like what’s good for the planet could also be good business for ethical exhibition companies.

    Checklist for Hosting a Green Expo


    • Ensure top level management buys into the greening plan.
    • Select a venue that has green advantages such as: recycling; natural and low energy lighting; motion-sensor lighting, taps and escalators; dual flush toilets; water-wise indigenous gardens; is close to public transport; and so forth.
    • Promote a paperless system for exhibitor and visitor registrations, and the exhibition services. Use electronic communication (SMS, email, websites and social media) to promote the expo.
    • Request the catering company provide a menu made up of locally sourced produce, and ideally seasonal and organic too. Include lots of vegetarian options. Serve the food with re-usable crockery and cutlery, to minimise unnecessary extra waste.
    • Although the venue may have waste sorting and recycling back of house, it is recommended you provide a twin-bin waste system in the hall to ensure the recyclables and non-recyclables are separated at source. The bins will need to be clearly labelled as to what can be put in which bins.
    • .Ask your exhibitors to assist your greening measures, by opting for green stands. You can refer to the EXSA Green Stand Award Guidelines for more ideas on how to do this. You can also encourage them to reduce the amount of printed handouts they have on stand, to opt for indigenous plants on the stand and, if having give-aways, to source locally produced items rather than Chinese imports.
    • Green Stand Awards are a nice way to acknowledge those exhibitors who have made an effort in this regard. Once again, you can refer to the EXSA Green Stand Awards criteria for stand judging  guidelines.
    • You can also buying renewable energy to power your exhibition, through ZA Recs SA. This is an inexpensive but effective way to reduce the carbon footprint of your event.
    • Clearly communicate all of your greening efforts to you suppliers, exhibitors, visitors and the media. This will help to profile the good you are doing, encourage conversations and awareness around greening, and also increase the likelihood that your greening efforts will be supported by everyone - and therefore be more effective.
    • Remember; you cannot manage what you cannot measure. So it is a good idea to measure the environmental impact of your event. This will give you a good idea of where you can improve your efforts, and by how much. The carbon footprint of your event can be calculated through measuring the travel, power consumption, waste output and printing that can be directly attributed to your event. A good rule of thumb is, if you pay for it, you should offset it.
    • Consider offsetting the carbon footprint of your event through planting trees, donating solar water heaters, or something similar for a community-based operation such as a school, orphanage or community centre.

    Join the Event Greening Forum

    If you are interested in developing the environmental, social and economic sustainability of your business, contact us to find out more about Event Greening Forum membership.

    Contact Lynn on lynn@eventgreening.co.za


    Green Database


    If you are looking for anything green, be sure to check out the Green Database:


    Million Rand Budgets
    Global Events


    And Start Contributing to the Exhibitions and Events Industry


    About EXSA

    EXSA enables connections through the networking and communication of our Forums and via our website (www.exsa.co.za).

    Besides providing EXSA’s directory of members, an exhibitions calendar and news feed, the EXSA website also offers a wealth of knowledge and industry guidelines available to its members.



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