A Different Kind of Green Trade Show Checklist
In each of the last two years, in the month approaching the annual InfoComm trade show, I have provided you with lists of the best questions to ask your manufacturers to help you with your sustainable procurement. In 2011, it was really my best stab at an organized list, based off of my personal experience. Last year, I was thrilled to have more substance based on the ASTM Environmental Standards. So, if you’re looking for the best tips on how to shop for more sustainable products, I recommend you look back at those suggestions… they are still awesome, in my opinion.
This year I have something different in mind — a different kind of green trade show checklist. See, I have the firm belief that sustainable practices must be based off of a set of behaviors, like habit. True sustainability requires an unthinking awareness of how our actions impact the world around us. It should be like the surfer who absorbs the color of the sunrise, feels the shift in a wind and instantly knows what the surf is like from 30 miles away… a knowledge more like instinct than a conscious calculation. Developing sustainable practices should become second nature based on clues of the world around us.
What I challenge you to do this year is make your own little checklist in order to hone this awareness. Make a list of all the things you see at this trade show that you think are:
a) Totally Green. Whether it be energy efficient equipment, responsible manufacturing processes or socially responsible policies, make a note of how much you see that really shows you what the idea of green is all about.
b) Seemingly Sustainable. Does it seem like it might be a green practice? Is it using less materials or consumables (e.g., rechargeable batteries)? Make a note of those things that strike you as being green.
c) Needs Improvement. Remember that “N” mark on your school citizenship report? How many things do you note that need some serious work? Are there manufacturers, peers or products that seem to scoff the concept of green. Because those folks are certainly in need of some improvement, to say the least.
Finally, what I’d like you to do is notate activity around your own attendance at a trade show that strikes you as… not-so-green. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 60 million people visit trade shows each year. The U.S. EPA estimates each attendee generates 20 pounds of waste. What this equates to is over 1 billion pounds of total waste generated annually by the trade show industry — by events such as InfoComm. Look carefully at your own habits and consumption onsite; study the carpet and padding under your feet and realize that it is traditionally thrown into the trash post-event; imagine the waste created when venues don’t recycle those tens of thousands of water bottles (thankfully the Orange County Convention Center does); ponder thoughtfully over where those many giant banners, signs and escalator decals will end up. Then, later, I challenge you to translate this new awareness to a change in your own business practices. As the surfer senses the winds, you too should be able to sense the changes you can make to become a greener AV practitioner.
Midori Connolly is the founder of AVGirl Productions in California. She wrote the first-ever set of Sustainable Staging best practices after discovering none existed. She was the co-chair of the AV committee for the ASTM Standard for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings and is a speaker, writer and consultant for green practices in live events and meeting planning. Reach her at email@example.com