Trade Shows, Sustainability, and Eco-Friendly Booths

Categories: Going Green, Trade Show Tips

As more and more companies and consumers focus on and introduce Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices into their firm, a new mindset emerges on all levels.

How can we be more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable?

The word “Sustainability” might, and most likely does, have a different definition in your head than what the actual definition is. It is typically associated with only environmentally friendly topics, but instead encompasses social and economic “sustainability” or, essentially, making choices for the greater good of our society and world.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on how to be more environmentally sustainable or environmentally friendly before, during, and after your trade shows.

Making Sustainable Choices for Your Trade Shows

Typically, you can start making sustainable choices from wherever you are in the trade show display cycle: purchasing, usage, or disposal.

However, it is much easier if your next trade show display and booth purchase is approached with a sustainable mindset from the beginning:

Display Choices

When picking out your next trade show display, a sustainable choice can encompass one or many features such as reusability, how you transport the display, quality of the display, and material. All of these features are interrelated and one choice of feature can affect a different one.  


Being 100% Recyclable, Aluminum cans are collected are reprocessed
  • Aluminum: When looking at the different materials available for your next trade show booth, you’ll notice that the predominant material, for the frame at least, is aluminum. Aluminum is extremely lightweight, sturdy and strong, but best of all its 100% recyclable.
  • Wood: Custom exhibits tend to use a wooden frame and while the wood itself isn’t exactly problematic and can make for a really good looking and reusable display. The problem can arise with the logistics associated with it (see: Portability)
  • Fabrics: Unfortunately, most, if not all, of the fabrics that come with trade show displays aren’t very environmentally friendly. The fabrics used are petroleum-based synthetic materials which is needed for the printing process, typically dye-sublimation, as it is an extremely harsh environment. For now, this is the unfortunate situation, but we’ve been keeping a lookout for any alternatives and solutions for this.


When transporting your trade show display, its either going with you on a plane or car, or it’s being shipped to the show via a courier who will use a combination of air and truck.  

  • Taking it with you: If you’re traveling to a show and your display is a portable display, then you might want to consider taking the display with you instead of shipping it. The reasoning there is that you are already creating CO2 emissions by traveling to the show, so if you bring the display with you it becomes a marginal addition to CO2 emissions, rather than putting it on its own flight or truck.
  • This is especially true if you are flying to a show as airplanes have the most “amount of CO2 emitted per metric ton of freight and per distance”. Having one flight associated with your booth (you with your displays) rather than two (you + another for your display) can help you reduce your associations/contributions to emissions.
  • Shipping it: Typically, once you get to the point of having to ship your display, you’ve most likely made a large investment and are planning on using it for many shows and several years. In the grand scheme of things, this situation is not as bad as it seems in terms of emissions as you’re still using the display continuously so its not as detrimental as new displays every show, every 6 months (or similar). Check out this article on the argument between driving a used car vs buying new.

Booth Quality

  • Choosing a higher quality display over a lower quality, but cheaper, display is imperative as a higher quality display will last much longer than a cheaper one. When you continually buy replacement displays as your cheaper displays begin to wear out you contribute to the entire supply chain, manufacturing, and logistics-related emissions. To get some more specific information on the differences between Quality Exhibits vs Cheap Exhibits, check out this article here.

Repurposing and Reusing Displays

  • Reusing a trade show display for several show seasons is easier than you might think. After choosing a high-quality display, you’ll get a sturdy, good looking display that can last you years. Instead of buying a whole new display when you update your graphics, you can simply have new graphics printed for your display with your updated graphics on it.
  •  Not only does this help with environmental sustainability (not manufacturing a new frame for each graphic update you do) but it also helps keep your budget open for other investments like booth staff or attention-grabbing games to help attract attention to your booth.
  • When its time to retire your display or store it, you may want to think of places where you can instead use your display. If you have a display with shelves, you may want to use it somewhere in the office to display that years products or if you have a literature stand in your booth setup, you might be able to use it in your company’s lobby to, you guessed it, distribute brochures when you’re not exhibiting.

Recycling Your Old Displays

If you’re looking to recycle or dispose of your trade show display, take a look at this post that’s dedicated to recycling your trade show displays.


While it currently seems hard to find environmentally friendly trade show displays, there are still many choices and decisions that can be made in the name of sustainability. If you have any questions or need help picking out the right trade show display, please use the contact options below to get in touch. We look forward to it!

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