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  • Jun 02, 2023
  • Write by Author Name
  • Jun 02, 2023

Sustainability in Trade Show Exhibits: Why It Matters and How to Achieve It


There’s no denying that trade shows are very important events in many industries. They provide a unique opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services, network with potential clients, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations in their field. 

With consumers and corporations alike shifting toward sustainability, these eco-friendly practices must also apply to these large-scale industry events.

In this article, we will explore the importance of sustainability in trade show exhibits and how to achieve it.

The Need for Sustainability in Trade Show Exhibits

Trade shows, like many events, generate an immense amount of waste, consume tons of energy, and emit high levels of greenhouse gases, contributing to the already pressing issue of climate change. 

According to a report published in September 2022, the environmental impact of trade shows is alarming. It highlights that material waste and booth construction account for the second and third major share in the environmental impact of trade shows. The report also reveals that a significant amount of material waste generated by trade show participants ends up in landfills, with only 26% recycled.

Given these concerning statistics, it is clear that the trade show industry must take urgent action to address its environmental impact. One potential solution highlighted by the report is the adoption of sustainable event booths. 

With these changes, trade show organizers and exhibitors can significantly reduce their environmental impact while providing businesses a platform to showcase their products and services.

Building on that, let’s look at ways trade show exhibitors can integrate sustainable, environmentally friendly choices in their approaches.

How To Achieve Sustainability in Trade Show Exhibits

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Swag 

Instead of traditional trade show swag made of plastic materials that end up in landfills, consider eco-friendly options like reusable water bottles, tote bags made from recycled materials, or bamboo utensils. 

Other sustainable giveaway options include branded seed packets or plantable pencils made of recycled materials. 

Redstone Foods at Sweets & Snacks Expo

Print Responsibly

One of the biggest sources of waste at trade shows is the large number of printed materials, like brochures, flyers, and handouts. Digital marketing materials instead of large volumes of paper can make a huge difference in these events’ carbon footprint.

Print responsibly and minimize the use of ink and paper. And if you have to print some materials, use recycled or sustainably sourced paper. 

In the 21st century, it’s time to embrace the idea of electronic trade display.

Recycle and Reuse Booth Materials

Booth materials like banners, show displays, show stands, and furniture can be used for multiple events, reducing waste and saving money. After a trade show, consider recycling as many of your display elements as possible. Try to upcycle these materials for other shows or even for office use. 

Some booth materials can also be donated to charity or sent to recycling plants.

Invest in Durable Materials

Purchase high-quality, durable exhibit materials that can be used multiple times. They may cost more upfront, but it will lead to savings in the long run. 

To that end, lightweight materials like fabric, bamboo, and recycled materials are eco-friendly and easier to transport to the venue, which will help reduce fuel consumption.

Rent Exhibit Booth Materials Locally

Renting exhibit booth materials from a local supplier can save on shipping costs and reduce fuel consumption. It also supports local businesses and reduces the overall carbon footprint of event booth design

Additionally, choosing modular and lightweight booth materials can make transport more efficient and cost-effective. Exhibit rental or rental exhibits is a green approach to exhibiting. 

Use Energy-Efficient Devices

Using energy-efficient lighting like LED bulbs can significantly reduce energy consumption during these events. Choosing electronics, such as monitors, and appliances with low power consumption, like tablets instead of desktop computers, can also reduce a booth’s overall energy usage. 

Nucor at ProMat

Leverage Virtual Trade Show Booths

Virtual trade shows are a sustainable alternative to traditional in-person events. They eliminate the need for travel and reduce the environmental impact of the event in many ways. And obviously, they are cost-effective and more accessible for attendees. 

Reduce Air Travel

One of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of trade shows is to limit the need for air travel. Exhibitors should consider going to shows that are closer to their location, reducing the need for long-distance travel. 

On that note, before committing to an event, evaluate whether the benefits of exhibiting outweigh the environmental impact.

Encourage Trade Show Hosts To Go Green

Exhibitors can encourage trade show hosts to adopt sustainable practices by offering suggestions and resources. This may include urging them to use renewable energy sources like solar panels, mandate lightweight materials for all exhibits, and provide carpooling services for attendees. The possibilities are limitless. 

Sustainable Materials for Trade Show Exhibits

It’s the little things that compound into incremental improvements. Sustainable materials can be used to create eco-friendly trade show exhibits that are visually appealing and environmentally responsible.

Sustainable materials for trade show exhibits include:

  • Aluminum extrusions made with 70% recycled content (aluminum is endlessly recyclable)
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Wood Products that are certified to be grown and harvested sustainably
  • Greenguard Certified laminates for low chemical emissions
  • Water-based, low or VOC-free (Volatile Organic Compounds) adhesives
  • Eco-Board made from biodegradable polystyrene
  • ReCo Board made from 100% recycled plastics
  • Eco-Glass made from 100% post-industrial recycled acrylic or plexiglass
  • Fabric Graphics made from 100% post-consumer material, including dye-sub SEG backlit graphics
  • Energy-efficient LED lights for lightboxes, accent lights, stem lights, and downlighting options
  • Shipping cases made from recycled plastics and 100% recyclable when no longer needed
  • Reusable packing materials made from recycled foam

With sustainable practices, you can spend less to offset this outline of the typical budget breakdown of trade show costs.


With the alarming impact that trade shows have on the environment, it’s essential to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure that exhibits are as sustainable as possible. Implementing the above measures can help protect the planet.

If you’re looking for a trade show exhibit solution and service provider that prioritizes sustainability, Metro Exhibits is an excellent option. We are among the pioneering trade show booth design companies

In addition to being a holistic booth design company, we offer a range of services, including exhibit fabrication, printing, logistics, and warehousing, to name a few.

Connect with Metro Exhibits today for a stunning, eco-friendly show exhibit that will showcase your brand and speak volumes about your commitment to environmental responsibility.

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