Sustainable exhibition stands 🌱

In recent years, we’ve seen a huge shift in the way in which companies go about their practice. More so than ever before, clients are questioning ways in which they can reduce their impact on the environment by building sustainable exhibition stands.

At Graphic Mill, we are acutely aware of how irresponsible some practitioners in our industry can be. The number of single-use stands that we see thrown out after a two-day show is simply frightening. To fight against this, we’re continually implementing simple practices to reduce our carbon footprint, whilst adopting new and innovative construction techniques and materials which illustrates to even the most concerned of our clients that we take our responsibility to the planet seriously. 

Tony and Will installing La Vie stand Lunch 23

Key to our aims of creating sustainable exhibition stands has been offering clients the rental of our modular wall structure. Whether exhibiting in shell schemes or on space-only stands, the Aluvision system provides a more affordable and environmentally responsible route away from wood which is often used once, and thrown out after the show.

To dress these incredibly versatile frames, we can use tension fabrics or panels, which once printed on, provide not only a professional finish but a reusable asset which can be used across multiple shows. 

One of the key eco-credentials of hiring our wall system is that it’s highly modular. If you’re exhibiting across many shows, and on different sizes of stand, the simple purchase of additional fabrics or panels to fit the space, whilst increasing or decreasing the amount of wall structure hired, is the perfect way of creating a sustainable exhibition stand.

Kensa Group is one example of a company that has benefitted from purchasing fabrics and panels, and then hiring our Aluvision wall structure to allow for easy and environmentally responsible stand builds across their busy exhibiting calendar. The below renders show how modular their stand is and how it’s been adapted to fit the varying size requirements of different shows. We love this method of building sustainable exhibition stands, it keeps the investment low for our clients, whilst heavily minimising the waste we produce. 

Other stand elements which can be hired from us include furniture such as counters and display units. These assets can be branded with our client’s unique graphics to make them truly personalised. After the show, everything returns to our HQ where we’re able to rebrand and reuse these items at another show. Extending the longevity of furniture is another way in which we’re able to up our sustainability game.

If clients want a truly bespoke piece of furniture or other unique stand element such as a logo light box, oversized product replica, or interactive element such as a spinning wheel, we promote the idea of Graphic Mill building and then storing these assets between shows. This allows us to not only transport and store these items responsibly but also assess them for wear and tear, touching them up where required so they’re ready for the next show.

From the viewpoint of building sustainable exhibition stands, using a single company to install and store your assets will reduce the emissions associated with transporting goods to and from different suppliers, whilst our ability to make running repairs to items will prolong their lifespan and therefore reusability.

On the subject of bespoke items, one thing we’re accustomed to at Graphic Mill is repurposing custom-made items, especially counters and display units. As the branding of a business evolves over time, so will the need for its stand assets. Taking the example of the counter we made for the chocolate company, Rhythm 108, on multiple occasions we’ve refurbished it to fall in line with the latest aesthetic of their business. Once again, by extending the life of this kind of item, you’re saving the client money by increasing the return on their initial investment whilst also providing sustainable stand assets which are infinitely kinder to the environment. 

Possibly one of the biggest issues when building sustainable exhibition stands is sourcing flooring which is attractive, affordable and reusable. The carpet that venues lay across the hall is single-use and simply thrown out after the show. The same goes for much of the flooring that is applied to stands. Whilst we can’t control how the venues carpet their halls, we can offer flooring solutions which can be reused across multiple shows. If looked after, our vinyl flooring can be cleaned and used again, whilst natural materials such as plywood and cork make for a quirky alternative!

Other small wins which help us to build sustainable exhibition stands:

– Our high-end LED wall lights are more powerful than others you’ll see at shows, whilst consuming less power in the process.

– Operations Manager, Anna, is an absolute pro at organising logistics in a way which reduces our carbon emissions. Combining deliveries and pick-ups with other jobs, whilst also encouraging flexibility from our clients to accommodate this, allows us to make for more efficient journeys. 

Things you can do:

– We all need our caffeine fix to keep us going at busy shows but don’t forget to bring a reusable cup for your coffee and water.

– Consider whether you truly need physical handouts such as flyers and brochures. These assets are often thrown away and not recycled. Instead, think about adopting QR codes or other creative means to get your literature to potential clients. 

If you’d like to hear more about how Graphic Mill can build you a stand which fits your own sustainability goals, get in touch to start a discussion and request a free design proposal.

Related articles: Our Top 5 Reusable Exhibition Ideas