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OR Summer

Planning for a plastic-free trade show

10 ways to reduce your plastic footprint at the Outdoor Retailer trade show.

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Trade show time is almost upon us. And while the pandemic has caused many businesses take a few steps back in terms of their single-use plastic initiatives and a totally plastic-free trade show is out of reach for now there are still plenty of ways you can keep your plastic footprint low during travel and trade shows. As you prepare for Outdoor Retailer and/or the Big Gear Gear Show next month, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Join the Plastic Impact Alliance. It’s a coalition of more than 400 outdoor industry brands united in their goal to nix single-use plastic from our industry.

Appoint a sustainability captain. Exhibiting brands should have one person in charge of communicating, facilitating, and driving sustainability efforts within your teams, which includes all of the below points.

BYO drinkware. Do you really need another bottle or coffee cup? Bring your own to the show. That includes a water bottle, a coffee cup, and a pint glass for happy hours. Bonus points: Bring your own reusable utensils, too.

Host a water station. If you’re an exhibitor, give your staff and booth visitors a place to tank up. Learn how to rent a water station here for just $95. And be on the lookout for Plastic Impact Alliance member in-booth water stations throughout the show.

Plan happy hours and events with sustainability in mind. Plastic Impact Alliance members have pledged to reject single-use plastic drinkware at their events, which means brands have to come up with alternatives to the compostable (but still single-use) plastic cups that the Convention Center supplies. Here are some ideas:

  • Tell people to BYO cup on your invitations. Start hammering this message home early and keep hammering, like PIA member Osprey did a few shows back.
  • Order stainless steel pint glasses from StanleyEco VesselKlean KanteenYeti, or GSI. Tell them you are a PIA member and ask for a special discount.

Ditch the carpet. If you’re an exhibitor, embrace the industrial concrete floor, like Outdoor Retailer has done in the aisles and Patagonia has done it its booth. Booth carpet and the plastic underlayer eventually ends up in the landfill.

Use only clear, recyclable pallet wrap when packing your booth. Tinted and black plastic film cannot be recycled. Speak to your contractors and make sure to demand clear, un-tinted film, which can be recycled. Outdoor Retailer is working on establishing soft film recycling centers on the show floor, so we can divert all that material from the landfill.

Adopt a pack it in/pack it out mentality. Make sure everyone on your team understands that items left on the floor during take down might not make it to the proper recycling bin. Take responsibility for all your materials and trash and ensure it ends up in the right place.

Skip the hotel toiletries and the housekeeping service. If we all packed our own shampoo, conditioner, lotion for all three days of the show, we could spare roughly 75,000 mini plastic bottles form the landfill!

Say no to junk swag. Do you really need that keychain, coozie, or yet another lip balm? Don’t accept something if it will just get stowed in a drawer (then eventually pitched). Send a message about needless logo’d junk. Just say no unless it’s really something you’ll use.