Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Expo West 2015: Creating A Low Waste Experience

As I prepare for my third visit to Natural Products Expo West my mind isn't on the best gluten free foods or even the best low chemical beauty products. This year I want to focus on attending the expo and making little to no waste, while discovering products that support a no plastic and low waste lifestyle.

Years past I have brought home an abundance of free swag. I make a conscious effort to only take samples of products I am truly interested in and will use. I still find myself emptying bags, yes plural, of samples on my living room floor. I found myself having excess in 3 different ways and have decided to create an action plan to stop wasting so much by limiting  the amount of waste I create while still being able to share the experience of the expo.

1. Bags. There are a lot of bags. The bright side is they are reusable bags given away by exhibitors with their logo on the side. During the expo it is a great way to carry samples and flyers, and of course can be used later. I would arrive home with 10 reusable bags that I truly didn't need. The upside was being able to give my family members reusable bags for them to take shopping. This year, I'd like to come home with zero.

The Solution: I plan on taking my own canvas tote and only using the one tote for any items I bring home.

2. Paper. Flyers, coupons, business cards and advertisements are handed out by all and received by many. When I am preparing a blog post about the products I discovered while at the Expo it is great to have website information and a contact’s name so that I can connect with the product rep after the post has been published or while I'm writing if I have any questions. But then what? Long are the days of rolodex since contact information can now be loaded into a digital address book. I plan on collecting zero paper.

Solution: After thanking the exhibitor for the information, I will explain that I am trying to limit my waste at the expo and will instead take a photo of their business card, flyer, etc. I have a feeling I may be met with mixed reactions, but considering it is a natural expo, I'm hoping most people are eco-conscious.

3. Packaging. Expo West has an enormous amount of food sampling, which on the expo floor is generally full sized items cut down to snack sized portions. Samples are usually served on paper products, which are compostable. Many samples given to attendees to take with them are in single use packaging. Food items like single serving yogurts, sample size bars or even mini sized bottled water are often provided as snacks outside the expo as well. My goal is to not have any food packaging waste during the expo aside from compostable napkins and spoons that samples are served on.

Solution:  Along with a reusable water bottle, I will bring along unpackaged snacks and look out for waste free samples.

Have you experienced a successful waste free expo or conference? Share you tips in the comments.

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