Sustainable world concept

There are roughly 13,000 trade shows held annually in the U.S. These events generate an estimated 600,000 tons of trash, and a tremendous amount of fuel, electricity and water associated with transporting attendees and exhibitors. 

According to Steve Ashkin, the leading advocate for sustainability in the professional cleaning industry, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to make trade shows greener and more sustainable.

"The good news is that it can be done," says Ashkin.

Here are just a few ways exhibitors can improve sustainability:

Rent Locally
Instead of delivering all exhibit items, see if some can be rented locally. This helps minimize transport needs, fuel consumption and harmful emissions.

Select Lighter Materials
For items that must be transported, select lighter, but durable materials. Lighter materials require less fuel to transport, helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Spend More to Save More
View your booth as an investment to be used more than once. Select quality materials that are durable and long-lasting, so they can be used over and over again.

Reuse as much of your exhibit as possible. Reusing is a cost savings that promotes sustainability.

If reusing is not a viable option, recycle as much as possible. Many event venues now separate landfill trash from items that can be reused or repurposed, making this option easier.

Instead of paper handouts, use monitors and videos to display marketing materials and technologies that allow information to be transferred to attendee smartphones. It's high-tech with no waste.

Print Green
Many exhibitors still want something they can hand out to attendees. If so, print materials on recycled paper and environmentally responsible "green" inks.

Attendees can promote sustainability, too. Here are a few suggestions:

Heat and A/C
When leaving the hotel room, adjust the thermostat to a temperature that is several degrees warmer or cooler than if the room were occupied.

Room Electronics
Take a second before leaving the hotel guest room to turn off all electronics. This will help save energy tremendously.

Refillable Water Bottles
Refillable water bottles are a trade show must. Not only is plastic waste reduced by refilling them, but because they are more insulated, they help keep the water cooler throughout the day.

Make Wise Meat Choices When Dining Out
According to the National Academy of Sciences, raising cows requires ten times more resources than chicken, poultry, dairy, or pork; 28 times more land; six times more fertilizer; 11 times more water; and produces up to about five times more greenhouse gas emissions than chicken, dairy, and poultry.

"The professional cleaning industry is a leader when it comes to protecting the environment and we are now beginning to play a leadership role when it comes to sustainability," says Ashkin. "Let's make these the most sustainability-focused trade shows ever.