Want to “Go Green” for Your Next Trade Show?


In 2010, Newsweek named Office Depot as the greenest retailer in the US, and the 18thgreenest company in the country in 2010. Their expanding “Green Fleet” makes deliveries via electric vans and cargo cycles; the company buys and sells sustainable products; they partner with other environmentally conscious companies. They “walk the walk” in every aspect of their business and in every interaction with the public. Their trade show booth, then, had to live up to the company’s considerable reputation. Office Depot is not alone in wanting, and needing to create more sustainable exhibits and booths. How can companies go green at shows?

Only a few years ago, being green was an extra, a bonus, a differentiator for companies. Today, it is fast becoming an imperative as the public becomes more aware, and more concerned, with issues such as carbon footprints, pollution, and waste. Brands want to be seen as responsible, innovative, and forward thinking in this area, and to do that, they actually have to do that. They have to be sustainable at home, and on the road.

Tradeshows, as a whole, haven’t kept up. They’re not green; they’re not even brown.

  • These shows produce 600,000 tons of trash each year.
  • The people who attend produce 20 pounds of garbage each (think swag, food, and brochures) or a billion pounds a year collectively.

Companies like Office Depot are changing this. How? Let’s take a look at what they did for the Greenbuild Expo 2012:

  • They used (and still use) a reclaimed shipping container as their booth. This is much more efficient than recycling these steel boxes, and much less wasteful than letting them sit and rust on a pier.
  • The all-in-one design allows Office Depot to move the display efficiently, minimizing waste.
  • They displayed several green products that they sell.
  • Office Depot opts for reusable delivery containers.
  • The company sponsored pedicabs during the expo, for free, human-powered transit. Besides being green, that’s just fun!
  • Their container display contained flooring made from sustainable bamboo.
  • LEDs provided the lighting.

The sky is the limit with sustainability; when you have a good base, you can incorporate green elements and phase out those that are wasteful. Tradeshows offer brands the opportunity to interact with an audience – but that audience expects increased environmental-consciousness. Giving them what they want, and then giving them more, will help set your brand apart.

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