As 2022 is fully underway and there is a promise of normality to come to us, I am reminded of the excitement and joy I feel going to exhibitions.
I love meeting new people, talking with them, making friends, and just being out of the house. And after the better part of 18 months plus cooped up indoors, I am itching to get out.
Now, exhibitions are no easy feat to pull off. There’s a lot of moving parts and certainly a lot of things to purchase and consider.
With that comes a huge downside. Wastage.
Just for a moment, I want you to imagine the wastage of an exhibition. Let’s say it’s a big one like at one of the London arenas. All the single-use packaging. The plastic, the cardboard, the food, the drink, the works.
I can only imagine it veers steeply upwards towards tonnage of waste materials when it’s over. A ton!
Now that may all seem overwhelming so I’m going to narrow the focus in a little. I’m going to focus on a merchandise product I know very well. The humble lanyard.
I went to 10 exhibitions between October and November, every single one gave me a lanyard with print on it.
Only 1 exhibition gave me a chance to return the lanyard. So only 1 exhibition allowed me to potentially recycle that lanyard.
Not only that but every lanyard was made from polyester! WTF!!??
So, for those of you who don’t know, polyester is a synthetic, petroleum-based material.
As The Independent states:
Laura Balmond, project manager of Make Fashion Circular at environmental charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), states that synthetic fabrics are usually produced from oil and account for 63 per cent of the material input for textiles production.
The most common materials in this sector are polyester (55 per cent), followed by nylon (five per cent), and acrylic (two per cent).
While plastic-based fibres do not require agricultural land and use little water in production and processing, they do negatively impact the environment in other ways.
Not only are synthetics not biodegradable, they all rely on the petrochemical industries for their raw material, meaning this fashion industry staple is dependent on fossil fuel extraction.
Aside from the environmental impact incurred during extraction, manufacturing and shipping of synthetic clothing and material, “the use of fossil fuels brings with it other detrimental issues including oil spills, methane emissions and wildlife disruption and biodiversity loss”, Wilby says.
Polyester is so widespread in these modern times that it had become a problem to sea life, the planet, and even ourselves. Yes, we have even been found to have polyester fibres and microplastics to be found in our bodies.
This is so unsustainable.
There are solutions to this issue. There is a huge range of eco lanyards that people can buy.
Whenever these new products are introduced, there always seems to be pushback on them. A reticence to embrace this change.
So let’s look at the basic fact that most people ask about, the cost.
Let’s look at 2 basic options, the difference in cost between standard lanyard and an eco version on 2500 is £450.
The plant lanyard will cost you £1625 and the standard will cost you £1175.
Now the question a brand should ask themselves before they sponsor an exhibition, based on all the money you have already spent to show what an amazing company you are should £450 be something you are not willing to do.
On 100 units, the difference is £40! You can spend that much on coffee in a month!
Let’s face it, you do NOT want your brand associated with a huge amount of landfills by being silly when it comes to your lanyards.
This is a small action, a small change. That can have a big impact.
These all have the cumulative effect, that help you, your brand, and the planet. Not only this it all provides the start of a revolution that goes beyond words.
I say this because oftentimes sustainability is used as a buzzword, an extra notch in the marketing and branding toolbelt.
Let’s face it, whilst we do all try our best when it comes to sustainability but have you actually reviewed the actions you have taken to be more green?
As Tesco says “Every little helps”. The small changes you make to be more sustainable and eco-conscious will all add up to have a massive impact.
Apply that kind of thinking to our example. One small change to how lanyards are bought and used at an exhibition reduces the damage and environmental impact significantly.