Going green at events

Debra Ringer
Debra Ringer

I love events and aim to go to as many throughout the year as possible: to see clients, discover new ideas for event projects, explore different venues and keep ahead of the trends.

But with so much in the news and social media at the moment about reducing waste (single use plastic in particular) it has got me thinking about the amount of waste events can produce.

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Here are a few things to consider to make your events a little more environmentally friendly without compromising on your success.

1. Opt for reusable stand builds

Build and burn stands give a single use opportunity to go all out for one time only. If you regularly attend exhibitions, even if your space size varies, purchasing your own modular and scalable stand kit makes your presence much more efficient. Not only is it cheaper in the long term but it also reduces waste and is super flexible.

We produced a modular stand for Vertiv to save money across for a range of pan-EMEA events:

There are also great pop up options out there which are brilliant for smaller budgets (or smaller events) and the frames can last for years. You can produce a range of different graphics to alternate between events too as well as reusing graphics.

Take a look at the pop up we created for Solar Archive at Cloud Fest 2018:


2. Ditch (or limit) the print

Walking around Olympia last month I had countless flyers eagerly handed to me which all went straight into the recycling bin.  When you’re at an exhibition it always costs a small fortune in material handling fees to get your collateral into the venue: the last thing you want to do is take it all home again. So a lot of it does end up either in the bin or in the hands of people totally irrelevant to your business - students, competitors or in my case nosey marketing agencies!

Rather than taking every single brochure you have just in case, be more targeted. Take a few key items for your stand to give to those who you have meaningful conversations with or have at least been able to qualify somehow. 

Or go all out and ditch them altogether. Creating interactive online ways to showcase what you do before capturing the delegates details to email them relevant collateral post event is a great efficiency: it’s targeted, gives you qualified data for follow up and reduces print cost and waste.

Take a look at this event app we produced for Tintri which does exactly that.

3. Reconsider your giveaways

In a similar vein to print at events, the standard giveaways such as branded sweets, pens and USB sticks often end up in the hands of people totally irrelevant to your target audience and ultimately in the bin.

A lot of the items are produced on mass out of plastic and shipped over from China.

There is still a place for branded items but consider reducing how many you produce and try more eco friendly items that will also get a lot of re-use such as cloth bags and water bottles.

Another way to do it (and my preferred) is to change your low value giveaways to higher priced items that delegates have to win (iPads, Fitbits, Apple Watches for instance). This way you have a reason to capture delegate information and also create a buzz on your stand. It’s also cheaper overall but connects your brand with quality appealing items rather than a plastic USB fan that’ll break before you get back to the office...

For clients such as Audatex and Solar Archive we have run competitions within lock boxes: delegates receive a code that they need to try in the box to see if they can unlock the padlock and win the prize.  It’s a great way of getting delegates to cross the line: why would they miss out on your stand if they have the potential winning code to a top prize?



Events will undeniably always have a pretty big carbon footprint: there’s the travel for every delegate to get there and back, venues dressing and undressing a hall for just two or three days, and the shipping of all event materials. But as with our personal lives there are always a few changes we can make that will over time make a small difference.

By trying out the above you’re also likely to save money and create better event experiences with greater targeting to delegates. So what’s not to love? :-)

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