Maury McCausland and Dennis Dong from London Drugs, feeling the green display love.

Trade shows and networking events are a great way for sustainability-focused companies to spread their message. But if the display itself doesn’t share those green values, what’s the point?  When creating a display for London Drugs’ What’s the Green Deal program at the 2010 EPIC Sustainable Living Show, we set the objective of our booth to be 100% recycled, recyclable or reusable.

We had four main communication objectives: 1) Introduce the ‘What’s the Green Deal’ program, 2) Make people aware of our Bring Back the Pack styrofoam recycling, 3) Profile some of our green products and 4) Showcase our responsible electronics recycling.

Using a combination of custom-built displays and commercially-available ‘green’ booth components we were able to do all that and come pretty close to achieving ‘3-R’ status.

Sourcing ‘green’ stand-up displays.

Most off-the-rack booth systems we researched were more concerned with traditional variables of cost, weight and performance than the use of sustainable materials. One exception was the Panda Banner stand we discovered at Go Green Displays. The unit is made from 90% renewable resources (bamboo) and  the image is printed on cotton fabric utilizing low VOC inks. We ordered two – one for our introductory message (mostly type on white) and one for our responsible recycling info (type reversed from a darker photo). For both, we provided PDF files from InDesign and were very pleased with the crispness of the type and the rich colour of the images. The stands come in handy carrying bags and set up easily. My only complaint was that one of the two stands we ordered seemed to lean forward a bit more than the other.

To build a recycling display, start at the recycling bin.

Visiting London Drugs’ recycling partner, Genesis Recycling, is a fascinating experience. Their technicians can break a laptop down to its component parts in a matter of minutes and their styrofoam compressor turns a mountain of white blocks into polystyrene pucks with equal ease. To bring some of this directly to the booth, I had them give me one disassembled laptop and a minivan full of styrofoam blocks. It was then a simple matter of combining clean design with science-fair-project engineering to display what basically was a pile of junk without it looking like… well, a pile of junk. For the ‘exploded laptop’ display I spent an evening with zap straps and some pegboard, designing the panels to fold inward for easy portability. The Bring Back the Pack display was a cardboard box built around a tall table which held the TV/DVD unit which played some of our Green Deal YouTube videos. I surrounded this with an explosion of styro blocks held together with bamboo shishkebab sticks. All graphics were printed out on 100% PCW paper.

For the retail part of the display, we sourced some Green Deal products from the store and displayed them on a shelf that our client, Dennis, brought from his garage. The finishing touch was an area rug from the same source.

All in all, the EPIC show was successful for London Drugs. We spoke to a lot of people about What’s the Green Deal, and got TV interviews from Global and CBC. The client is setting up the display at their head offices and will use it for other community events in the future. And when it’s message becomes outdated, almost every component will be able to be kept out of landfill. And that’s a good feeling that lasts long after the tradeshow lights have dimmed.

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