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Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainable Exhibiting

What kind of recycled content paper should I get?

An affordable rule of thumb is to look for a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content for copy and text weight papers and 10% post-consumer recycled content for cover stock. Higher percentages are better. The best option is to purchase Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, if feasible for you. Ask your printer about the options, and their affordability.

What is the difference between recycled and post-consumer recycled content?

When paper is manufactured waste paper can be produced in the process. These trimmings and sub-grade paper can be re-introduced into the manufacturing process to produce recycled content paper. This differs from post-consumer recycled content paper, which has been sent to market and likely seen the inside of your office or home recycling bin. It is best to purchase as high post-consumer recycled content as possible.

What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?

Biodegradable products completely break down and return to the earth, decomposing into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after disposal. Compostable products are similar to biodegradable ones, but when they break down, they turn into humus, which provides valuable nutrients to the soil. The important distinction between biodegradable and compostable products is that the resulting humus is safe and a valuable nutrient to soil. The humus is tested for heavy metal content and must meet US and Canadian stated levels in order to be considered compostable.

What about inks?

Ask your printer about the availability of soy or vegetable-based inks. These inks use less petroleum and are more easily de-inked in the recycling process so are good to make use of if available.

If I already use environmentally friendly paper and ink, is that the best I can do?

Although the use of post-consumer recycled paper and soy or vegetable-based ink is preferable to the alternatives, the ultimate environmental benefit results from limiting the amount of printed materials you use. Although UUA implemented a system of monitoring and sorting of materials left behind in the exhibit hall last year, a significant quantity of waste, primarily paper, was still left behind. In 2014, we will be focusing on monitoring the amount of paper waste used and left behind by individual exhibitors and will consider penalties for exhibitors who leave materials behind.

What is fair trade certification?

Fair trade certification is a tool for reducing poverty in the developing world by ensuring the producers receive at a minimum a set price for their products, but depending on the circumstance can also assist in economic development, a healthy and safe working environmental, and educational opportunities.  Many products are now available with fair trade certification.

What kind of packing materials should I use?

Try to choose something you will re-use if you need to re-ship the materials, such as cloth, wooden crates or foam ends. If you will not be re-shipping, choose a recyclable alternative, such as paper or biodegradable packing peanuts. Avoid Styrofoam.

What kind of sustainable giveaways do you suggest?

If you need to give something away at your booth there are some great sustainable options that exist. Always consider how the gift will be appreciated and re-used by the recipient. The longer they keep the item and use it the more promotion you will receive! Consider electronic gifts, such as free mp3 downloads, coffee cards or an online subscription. Edible gifts are also appreciated and can be uniquely branded to your company or initiative.

How do I offset my air travel?

Despite The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) constant endeavor to reduce its carbon footprint, some use of carbon is unavoidable. To reconcile the carbon that is unavoidably emitted, UUA encourages exhibitors to donate $6 to offset your travel and hotel stay when you register for General Assembly. Donations go to Carbonfund.org, a non-profit organization that educates the public about climate change and works with individuals, businesses, and civic groups on CO2 reduction programs.

Who is UUA’s general services contractor?

UUA has a long-standing partnership with Heritage Exposition Services to provide materials and set-up for the Exhibit Hall. Heritage has developed a sustainability policy and procurement criteria for their business in response to a direct request from UUA. Many of the changes under this policy are invisible to GA participants, but help to reduce waste and carbon footprint. Heritage staff also work with local labor groups to collect material for recycling. In 2012, Heritage worked with Global Green Integrators to collect 221 pounds of film plastics like shrink wrap and tabletop material for recycling locally.

How can exhibitors take advantage of the green exhibit options offered by Heritage?

Exhibitors can select from several green exhibit options in the exhibitor kit. Here are some of the options and features that Heritage provides:

  • Carpet with pre-consumer recycled content that is recyclable through Heritage.
  • Carpet with durable, 25% post-industrial content is in its fourth year of use. Carpet reuse not only presents significant environmental benefits by reducing manufacturer footprints, but also means Heritage can eliminate Visqueen, a wasteful plastic film that many trade shows using new carpet employ to protect carpet from damage.
  • Padding with pre-consumer recycled content that is recyclable through Heritage. This product meets all LEED® criteria.
  • Signage that is made from natural fibers and 30% recycled waste paper which is recyclable locally.
  • Wastebaskets made of recyclable cardboard with biodegradable bags.

For more information contact gaexhibits@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

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