Sustainability in Trade Shows | 5 Tips for designing a sustainable exhibit


5 min read

June 21, 2022

In the years leading up to the pandemic, the subject of sustainability was gaining ground in the trade show industry. Sadly, it was put on the back-burner during the pandemic, due notably to the cancellation of most large-scale events, but also the necessity of implementing wasteful but important safety measures, such as plexiglass separators, individual food packaging, and disposable masks.

With the return of trade shows and events, we’re able to circle back to this important topic. We know of the importance of trade shows for developing key business relationships, and there is no better time to look at ways that we as an industry can change our habits for a better, greener future.

We’ve compiled a list of 5 key ideas that can help you participate in a more sustainable trade show experience.

Reusing Exhibits: Modular Designs

The bulk of waste from trade shows comes after the show, with the dismantling and throwing away of entire booths and their content: piles of plastic, wood, signage, even furniture and electronics, destined for landfills.

If you’re looking to purchase a custom-designed booth, consider planning ahead which shows you’d like to attend, their dates, location, and floor plans. Exhibit houses such as accordex are well-equipped to design and build booths that can be modular, so that you can reuse your custom structure for multiple events.

Here at accordex, we work closely with AluVision and other technologies to create modular booths using recycled aluminum, a great material for building out your structure. Not only is it easy to use and light-weight, recycled aluminum requires only about 5% of the energy compared to the production of primary aluminum, and is recyclable in turn. AluVision is also a sustainable option in itself: they produce reusable and recyclable light-weight products with a long lifespan, and their production plant mainly runs on solar energy. With this technology, we can build and design an attractive booth with multiple layout options so you can use it repeatedly for all your trade show needs.

In addition to reusing your booth structure, by avoiding printing dates, cities, or other show-specific information on your graphics and signage, you can reuse these elements for multiple shows.

Finally, at the end of your trade show season, consider repurposing the furniture and electronics for use in office spaces, or donating these elements to charities to give them a second home.


If you’re looking for sustainable options on a smaller budget, consider going the rental route. Built to be modular, rental booths can meet your brand’s needs seamlessly, then be used for future events in a snap.

Rental booths are naturally modular and are reused regularly. With an endless supply of customizable elements, you can be sure that your brand will shine, while keeping waste at a minimum.

Sustainable Materials

Whenever possible, using recycled, recyclable, or reusable materials in your design leads to a more sustainable booth.

We mentioned above the advantages of using aluminum for your structure, with its light-weight and recyclable properties.

Lighting is also a crucial element of good booth design. LEDs are the leading green lightbulbs, requiring 75% less energy than regular lightbulbs. Because of this, they have a much longer lifespan, making them more budget friendly as well.

For your printing needs, choosing to print on recycled materials and post-consumer paper is an excellent alternative to primary materials.

Eliminating Printed Materials

In our article 4 Key Elements of Successful Trade Show Planning, we go in depth about the necessity of making your exhibit inviting, with interactive elements to get customers to come in and stay in your booth.

Whereas previously, handouts of brochures, pamphlets, and disposable swag were common ways to get people to visit your booth, we’re now seeing a shift to digital options that avoid waste. Opting for digital promotion (this can include QR codes for downloadable content, interactive videos, VR, digital games, etc.) can enhance your visitor’s experience while reducing your environmental footprint.

If you do need to have printed promotional content, consider printing on sustainable materials, or being creative with some reusable swag. And be sure to include a recycling bin on your booth’s premises (this can be part of your booth design for a sleek look) to ensure materials will be recycled or even reused if still in good condition!

Weight & Transportation

Finally, a major part of the trade show industry’s footprint comes from the transport of exhibits to and from the event space. When designing your booth, keep in mind that lighter materials – such as aluminum frames and fabric walls – will reduce the transportation footprint as well as costs. Win-win!

Looking to a greener future

The last two years have been disruptive to say the least, and many businesses have had to pivot in order to adjust to a new normal. Though it has been difficult, we’ve seen the resilience of businesses, and that with a bit of effort, change is possible.

Here at accordex, we’ve embraced these new ideas and technologies with open arms, and are ready to help you make these changes for a greener future.

Need help designing and building your booth for your next event?

With over 25 years of experience, we are experts in designing and building custom exhibits, rental programs, and vibrant event environments that attract audiences.  

For more information on exhibiting or trade show stands, contact us.

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