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Going Green: 10 Tips for Eco-Friendly Exhibiting

by: Graham Green

There’s no question that consumers are starting to pay attention to eco-friendly companies. With the threats of global warming, over-filled landfills, water shortages, and many other environmental concerns looming on the horizon, some businesses that want to make a difference in the world—and attract a large amount of consumer goodwill—are choosing to go green.

There are plenty of reasons to consider environmental factors when planning for your next exhibit. If your industry is not traditionally linked with environmental movements, having a “green exhibit” is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Add to that the fact that you’re doing your part to make the world a better place, and you’ll feel less guilty for blowing your competition out of the water. Here are ten tips for going green at your next exhibit.

Building a booth? Use eco-friendly materials. If you’re building a custom booth this year, you have several options for greener materials. First, try to avoid wood. The earth’s forests are nearly 80% depleted, and that’s bad news for our atmosphere. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen—so they may be our first line of defense against global warming. Leave a few trees standing by choosing another material to build your booth.

One more eco-friendly choice is recycled metal. While this may not seem like the most biodegradable choice, it’s much better than using non-recycled metals. For example, the process of recycling aluminum takes about 95% less energy than it does to create new aluminum from ore. Recycling steel uses about 60% less energy than making it from scratch.

Another option is wood/plastic composite. This building material is made up of sawdust from lumber and furniture companies mixed with fragments of plastic trash, such as soda bottles and garbage bags. There are many different brands, and the wood comes in colors ranging from deep ambers to espresso browns—as beautiful as natural wood, without the environmental price tag.

Consider your paints. Oil and latex-based paints are toxic to the environment—they contain poisonous chemicals that can’t be removed at a treatment plant. Leftover paint is often poured down the drain, and it gets into oceans and waterways. It also leaches from painted items in landfills, further damaging the environment. Even worse, VOC’s—volatile organic chemicals, such as cyanide—in paint evaporate at room temperature, contributing to global warming while coating your booth.

Instead of traditional paints, look for non-VOC paints made by big-name paint manufacturers such as Sherman Williams and Behr. Other eco-friendly paints are made from talcum powder, clay, and chalk.

Get green giveaways. When looking for a good giveaway item, choose with an eye toward minimizing trash. Avoid items that come in plastic packaging. Avoid plastic altogether, in fact, unless it’s recycled. Good ideas include cotton or hemp tote bags, food in recycled-paper wrapping instead of plastic, recycled plastic Frisbees, pens and other items, and ceramic mugs. Stay away from plastic bags, wood, and non-recycled materials.

Use energy-efficient lighting. Incandescent light bulbs are notoriously inefficient. They emit only 10% of the energy they use as light. The rest is given off as heat—which is why these bulbs can catch your lampshade on fire if you’re not careful. Instead, use fluorescent bulbs. These are much more energy efficient.

Use recycled paper. There are a lot of paper products involved in a typical exhibit: business cards, signs and displays, brochures and promotional materials. Why not use recycled paper? While most people think of rough, textured and off-white paper when it comes to buying recycled, there are many companies that make smooth, bright-white papers that are comparable to virgin papers.

Consider green printing. Some inks can be as toxic as paint. You can go green with your printing by choosing a green printer. Not all are created equally; their commitment to green printing can range from using energy-efficient operating procedures to printing with soy-based inks on recycled papers. Be sure to shop around when looking for eco-friendly printers.

Talk to your vendor. Some booth vendors are more eco-friendly than others. Some may operate under environmentally mindful conditions—using alternative energy and energy-efficient practices, for example—while others may have pre-fabricated booths built from eco-friendly materials. Be sure to ask your vendor for more advice on how you can create a green display for your next exhibit.

Going green doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. While you may have to buy a custom booth to go green, recycled and eco-friendly materials sometimes cost less than their non-recycled alternatives. Talk to your vendor, research your options, and take your time in designing an approach to green exhibiting that works for your company. No matter how far you go with it—from using recycled papers to building an entire booth from eco-friendly materials—you’ll be making a positive contribution.



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Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting Is Safer And Eco-friendly

by: Loni Young

Low voltage outdoor lighting is a safer and more energy-friendly solution. It also looks better as overly bright lights don't always look that good.

Outdoor lights are exposed to rain and snow which always presents a risk of electrocution no matter how careful you are. The higher the voltage the more harmful the injury, with the most severe result being death. Low voltage outdoor lighting virtually eliminates this risk. At this low level you may feel a little tingle but nothing that could bring harm or death.

Low voltage outdoor lighting is also more eco-friendly because it uses less electricity. For much of the time outdoor lighting is not meant to help us see more clearly in the dark, rather it is an aesthetic element design to make your house and yard look more elegant in the evening hours. Houses do look more beautiful when they are lit up at night, but if it is not providing lighting to see better, then it really is a waste of electricity, especially in these days of global warming. Low voltage outdoor lighting is a wonderful solution.

In addition, most low voltage outdoor lighting is solar powered so it is completely run on renewable energy. You can have beautiful lighting and not increase your eco footprint.

Low voltage outdoor lighting is also a safe and low-cost way to increase the security of your home. It is quite certain that criminals are much less likely to enter a well-lighted area. Lights that automatically come on at dusk are a great way to protect your home.

Finally, you should carefully consider what kind of style you want for your low voltage outdoor lighting. For example, are you looking for a rustic look. Maybe you live in an urban setting and want to bring a taste of the country into your yard. Or, maybe you are looking for an antique feel to bring your yard back to an earlier time period. Or, maybe you like the look of brass fixtures.

Regardless, be sure to take care in choosing which style you want so you are not stuck with something you don't want. Lights are one of those things that even if you can get your money back, you may be too lazy to do so.

Low voltage outdoor lighting is a low-cost, eco-friendly and physically safe option for bringing nighttime beauty to your home.



Suggestions for a Cheaper, Greener, more Eco Friendly Christmas and New Year

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by: Davinos Greeno

Christmas tree

• Rather than buying a real tree thats been cut down, transported and then thrown away, purchase a large potted plant or small tree that can be used each year as your evergreen Christmas tree.

• You could always purchase an artificial tree that can be reused for many years, these range from 10 pounds to over 100 pounds. Ours actually looks real!

• If you buy a real tree, pay the Woodland Trust or a different organization to plant one in its place!

Christmas Decorations

• If you have evergreen shrubs and trees - to make sure you have an annual supply of eco-friendly Christmas decorations why not do some of your pruning just before Christmas and use the choice bits for inside? If you have not got any evergreens but have a garden ask for some of these plants as Christmas presents. They may take a few years to grow but then all you will need to do is harvest in December and be as creative as you like.

• Make a homemade wreath using branches trimmed from your garden or somebody elses.

• Purchase handmade decor made from recycled or eco-friendly materials. If possible by Fair trade as well, as they are a great way to support the disadvantaged. While some of these crafts may not be from recycled materials they provide much needed income to needy individuals.

• Ivy is good to drape around pictures, windows and the base of Christmas trees, it will hide the wires of the tree lights. There is as far as I know no substitute for electric fairy lights but as they last for years and use very little power, their impact is relatively low and they do look great.

• One of the advantages of using natural decorations is that after Christmas they do not need to go in the bin they can enter your normal garden waste on the compost heap.

Christmas tree ornaments

• Make homemade ornaments from (painted) pinecones, painted eggshells, crushed (colored) aluminum foil, paper chains, paper snowflakes, old CDs and more!

• Decorate a doll as an angel.

• Do an online search for recycled or homemade tree ornaments for numerous ideas or purchase these recycled or eco-friendly tree ornaments if you cant be bothered to make them.

Gifts

• Buy a subscription to an organisation working to make the world a better place such as the RSPB, RSPCA or Oxfam.

• If you are buying a present that uses batteries make sure the person you are buying it for has a battery charger and buy rechargeable batteries.

• Buy a homemade present, bird table, compost bin. Chocolate cakes often go down very well!

Gift wrap

• Collect extra photocopies or no longer needed papers from work for your children to draw on the back.

• Use colored pictures from your childrens colouring books.

• Use leftover pieces of fabric or wallpaper.

• Use recycled paper.

• Put the gift inside another gift such as a decorative tin, nice wooden box etc.

• Use gift wrap, gift bags and gift boxes, ribbon and bows from last Christmas or previous celebrations. Leave the tags blank on the gifts you are giving so that they can be reused.

Greeting cards & gift tags

• Send an e-card.

• Make a greeting card or tag from scrap paper, fabric or wallpaper.

• Make cards or tags from pieces of food box.

Packing material

• Use saved packing material such as foam or bubble wrap.

• Crush up newspaper into loose balls. This is cheap, quick and lightweight! This is our preferred method for box filler.

After the New Year

• Find out where you can recycle your real Christmas tree or Christmas cards, local councils and supermarkets are a good place to start. They will turn your trees into mulch for use in parks and public gardens.

• Use any wrapping paper that is no longer reusable for shelf liners or craft projects.

• Save boxes, gift bags, wrapping, filler, ribbons and bows for future gift wrapping or craft projects. Give them away to friends, neighbours etc if you have too many to keep.