Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainable Exhibiting

Biodegradable paper plate detail.
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?
Waste paper can be produced during the paper manufacturing 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 before being sent back for recycling. It is best to purchase as high post-consumer recycled content as possible.
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.
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Biodegradable products are said to completely break down and return to the earth under normal landfill conditions. Compostable products break down in compost facilities into humus, which provides valuable nutrients to the soil. Recently, studies have shown that products labeled as ‘biodegradable’ don’t perform as advertised and there is no certification process to differentiate between products that perform well. We recommend that you practice caution when using biodegradable products and prefer the use of certified compostable products instead. A list of certified compostable products can be found through the BPI website.
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, a significant quantity of waste, primarily paper, was still left 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 or wooden crates. 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.
The following companies are recomended for sourcing sustainable and ethical swag options: