Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Published on Friday, July 19, 2013

Can Event Marketing Be Truly Sustainable? Part Two

A few weeks ago, Part One of this blog was published (see below).


I suggested that exhibitors and supplier partners have to do more to become eco-friendly and avoid needlessly wasting Earth’s natural resources. While face-to-face marketing isn’t ecologically sustainable now, our industry continues to move in the right direction.


GES’ Trend Tracker identified that recycling “has become a way of life for many of us, at home and on the job.”  In Part One I recommended moving beyond recycling, to thinking more responsibly before we get to the recycling step. A funny thing might happen if we do - there may be some saving of the other green stuff, money. If we start to think more responsibly and incorporate the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) into our industry activities, the savings might light up a few smiles on some CFOs’ faces.


Here are some examples of what our customers can do to reduce, reuse and recycle in our industry.





Shipping show literatureEliminate most, if not all, printed literature, choose display properties made of lighter weight material (like aluminum and fabric, when purchasing new is required) and plan ahead with shipments. These actions will allow more display properties to be packed into fewer trucks and planes, lowering fuel consumption and reducing costs for shipping and material handling.


There seems to be a shift back to the pop-up style displays (like Nomadic Display Classic Curved and Plus Flatwalls) for inline applications. Average weights are less than 100 pounds per 10’ section, also reducing shipping and material handling costs.


Island trade show displayFor island configurations, creatively shaped overhead structures are a lighter weight alternative to heavier structures that are built from the ground up. Your company is paying for this overhead space, so taking advantage of it leaves more room on the floor for demo and seating areas.




Out of need and necessity, customers are sprucing up existing properties. We are updating graphics, covering panels with decal-type printed substrates, and fixing broken or damaged properties where possible.  A few years ago, customers were more likely to discard a display property, rather than refurbish and reuse it.


Customers are also showing increased interest in exhibit property rentals. Aluminum extrusions used with fabric or rigid panels with aqueous inkjet printing on a material that can be recycled, are more eco-friendly than some alternatives. There can also be a significant savings in cost of ownership when compared to purchasing a display.


When customers do consider a purchase, more thought goes into how the properties can be transformed. Can counters and work stations be utilized without the backwall? Can another 10’ be seamlessly added on at a later date? Can I split 30’ of an inline design into three stand-alone displays?


Tabletop displayAt the end of the use of a display, we are asking customers if they would like us to salvage what we can and donate it to nonprofit organizations.  One of our customers recently retired several tri-fold fabric displays. These displays were quickly snatched up by a local PTA so students could use them over and over again for science fairs and reading projects. In this case, the donating company could’ve taken a tax deduction, but declined.




If you are throwing out a display, it’s likely that some parts can be recycled, but not all. If your display partner is taking care of disposing properties, make sure they separate what can be recycled. The goal is to keep as much out of the landfills as possible. This make require time to disassemble the property and sort the recyclable from non-recyclable parts, for disposal. For instance, did you know that styrofoam is not an acceptable recyclable material (at least not in Illinois)?


Aluminum extrusionMany companies also have agreements with “scrappers”. Scrappers collect metal components like steel, iron, aluminum and copper. Some have agreements to simply haul it away; others have agreements to refund a certain percentage of what they receive for these materials. Not too long ago, restaurants were paying to have their used oil hauled away. Now they’re selling it to groups that use it to make alternative fuels.


Companies are more conscious of their impact on the environment today. If exhibit and event participants and suppliers continue to employ all of the “three Rs”, our industry can be green, and save some green, at the same time.



Steve Moskal


Piggy bank








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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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