Unlike typical exhibitions which recognise their most beautiful stands at their Stand Awards, Meetings Africa is unique in that it only gives out Green Stand Awards – exclusively recognising beautiful stands which are also sustainably sourced and responsibly managed. And they are beautiful! Here are the Meetings Africa 2019 Green Stand Award winners…
[In order of appearance: Resource Design – small stand category; Cape Town International Convention Centre – medium stand category; Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau – large stand category.]
Morwesi Ramonyai shared insights and tips into how to win a Meetings Africa Green Stand Award at the Event Greening Forum’s recent training sessions, held in conjunction with the Meetings Africa exhibitor briefings and sponsored by the South Africa National Convention Bureau. While her advice was specific to these awards, the guidelines apply to all exhibitors who are aiming to minimise their carbon footprint and have a positive legacy. So read on to find out how you can be a ‘green’ exhibitor.
1. Choose a green design
Quite simply, request a ‘green’ stand. The simplest way to do this is to purchase a stand which you re-use each time you exhibit. Look for options which are:
- modular (so can be reconfigured for different spaces);
- easy to assemble and pack away;
- transports well (packs up well).
Remember – a re-usable stand that is not re-used is not very green, so plan your purchase carefully.
2. Choose sustainable materials
Opt for sustainable materials, which means things like:
- locally produced;
- is from a renewable resource (e.g. wood);
- is free of harmful chemicals (e.g. eco-friendly paints);
- can be easily re-purposed (e.g. raw wood), recycled (e.g. Xanita board) or upcycled (e.g. fabric graphics can be made into pencil cases) when the stand is no longer needed.
3. Green your operations
Minimise how much energy your stand needs:
- use energy efficient lighting and appliances (e.g. LED light bulbs);
- skip appliances that use a lot of energy, like coffee machines.
Reduce the amount of waste your stand will produce:
- don’t hand out gifts to your visitors;• avoid anything with single-use plastic – including bottled water;
- don’t print brochures, but share your information electronically. If you really have to print, choose smaller pamphlets with recyclable paper and vegetable based inks.
4. Reduce your transport
Have a plan in place for efficient logistics, and:
- choose a compact, lightweight stand that is easy to transport;
- arrange for your team to lift share or use public transport;
- travel causes most of your greenhouse gas emissions, so consider working out your carbon footprint as an exhibitor, and offsetting it.
5. Tell everyone about how green you are
Communicate all of your green actions:
- make sure your staff know about it, and are therefore able to understand and support these actions, and can tell other people about them;
- display information on your expo stand that outlines why sustainability is important to your brand, and what you are therefore doing about it.
6. Create a social legacy
Build a positive social impact outcome into your exhibition process. For example, you can:
- only buy local;
- identify a local charity that you can partner with and help, perhaps with donations or through your carbon offset project.
7. Think outside the box
Lastly, look for creative solutions to sustainability problems. At Meetings Africa, purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates and planting trees are encouraged, to address challenges such as our dirty energy supply and the necessary travel involved in attending the event.