When I first heard the term “greening your event” back around 2003, I have to admit that that I initially did not pay much attention to it thinking it had something to do with monetizing more areas of your trade Show. Working for the NASFT (a not-for-profit), I had no interest in how to make more money, but was more concerned with how I could provide better service to our members, exhibitors and show attendees.
The word “green” kept creeping up in different industry magazines and websites, so I thought that I had better look into what all the chatter was about. As I quickly found out, it had nothing to do with making money and had everything to do with thinking about your show in a more responsible and environmentally-conscious way. This was very interesting to me as I have always tried to be very conscious of my personal impact on the environment. What I was happy to find out, was that we (the NASFT) were actually already doing a pretty good job at making the Fancy Food Shows a “green” event, but there was a lot more to learn and a lot more that could be done.
I quickly learned as much as I could and as quickly as I could, never wanting to be one that was behind on the times on any topic affecting our shows. I started to compile a list of all the things we were doing that could be considered an effort to green the show. We had quite an impressive list of things that we were already doing, but there were many opportunities to do them better and to do more. With that, a plan was put into place to make the Fancy Food Shows a leader in sustainability. We quickly shaped up our existing efforts and then each year introduced more ideas and programs into the mix. Some achieved great success and are still in play today (like our food donation program) while others were not as well received (digital signage became too expensive and turned out to be not as eco-friendly).
Here we are almost 7 years later and through all of our trials, we have achieved many more successes in this area than we ever imagined. It’s the efforts of the entire NASFT staff, our board of directors, members, exhibitors, attendees and show partners (suppliers, convention centers, etc.) that have gotten this program to where it is today. The hundreds of thousands of people in need who we have provided meals for, the schools whose art programs have benefited from our discarded signs/banners and the personal thanks we have received from each city we work in makes these efforts well worth it. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of these efforts will not be recognized until after we are all long gone, but our hope is that the Fancy Food Shows can be a model for future generations and something the future of our association and industry can be proud of.
For more details about our program, please visit www.fancyfoodshows.com/green.
-Bill Lynch, CEM, Senior Director, Membership & Exhibitions