The Boothologist

Green Ideas for Tradeshow Booth Design July 13 2017

by John-Paull Davidson, Boothologist, Boothster Founder

For the first 12 years of my career in design I dreamed of a day when clients would not dismiss using green display materials as being costly, unattractive, or “not right for our brand”. That day has triumphantly arrived. Today, clients are realizing that green booths and retail displays are not only affordable, but add aesthetic and brand value.


Green Practices in Tradeshow Booth Design


In 2006, I sensed this sea change in consumer demand and began integrating my stash of cool green materials into designs and articulated visually how the aesthetic of “sustainable modernism” could help propel brands ahead of the curve.  Boothster was founded and the clients started to find us through the magic of Google.

Back in 2006 the buzz words on Google were “eco friendly booths”. Today it has shifted to “green booth design ideas”. Additionally, people are using the word “sustainable” with more credibility, because over the past few years as the trend has grown, a lot of green-washing has occurred. Green washing, put simply, is providing misleading information about how “green” your product really is.

For example, a lot of companies that compete directly with us say that their booth or retail display is green because it utilizes aluminum. They literally have their booths made from a typical company and slap a eco friendly plastic piece on it and call it the most sustainable booth on the planet. What a joke. At Boothster we call ourselves Boothologists and this is one reason. We could and should take these companies to school about what it is to be green.


Sustainable Tradeshow Booth Building Materials


But all joking aside, you don’t need to go to school to learn how to be green in your life, and not with the booth/display you purchase. All it takes is some research, and some good common sense, and it goes a long way.

To start, here are some definitions:

  • Green: In this context, the term “green” is anything that does not hurt the planet or living things in this planet. Green, and “eco friendly” are often used interchangeably.
  • Sustainable: In this context the term “sustainable” refers to processes which serve to replenish natural supplies, rather than deplete them.
  • Green Washing: This refers to describing a product, service or action green when there is no evidence to support the claim. Green washing most often occurs when companies are trying to ride the wave of all things green by making false claims about their product or service.
  • Green Booth or Trade Show Display: A green trade show display is a trade show booth (signage, promotional graphics, display counters, wall displays) which minimizes the long term harm on the planet. Long term harm is caused by the use of materials that cause pollution such as plastic, aluminum and toxic dyes.
  • Effectively recyclable: If your product can be curbside recycled in any city in the USA it is effectively recyclable. If it’s recyclable in Portland but not in Texas, then it’s not effectively recyclable.
  • Cradle to Cradle: This is a design philosophy which means that any product you design must be designed with materials that biodegrade back into the environment with no toxic residue. Examples include wood, potato starch paper tubes and recycled paper panels (cardboard).
  • Biodegradable: This refers to if a product or material can biodegrade non toxically.
  • Post life booth plan: After your booth “dies” where is it going? Do you know for sure someone will recycle it? Hint: if your booth is biodegradable and non toxic, you don’t have to worry about it!

Secondly, I’d like to offer some tangible ways you can make your trade show display program green, eco friendly, sustainable (or whatever term you choose to use).


1. Integrate Sustainable Business Practices into your Trade Show Program

It really starts with talking about it. Make it a bullet point in your meeting agendas. Ask questions like:

“How can we make our trade show program more green?”

“Are the materials in our trade show displays/exhibits eco friendly?”

“Are we wasting a lot of brochures that never get read anyway?”

“Are our trade show vendors engaged in sustainable or green business practices?”


Are we using sustainable practices for our tradeshow booth design?

2. Use Common Sense

Its obvious that it is not very “green” to print thousands of brochures that get outdated and thrown away. Its also obvious that using something once and throwing it away in the garbage is not very eco friendly. But sometimes common sense is not enough.

3. Ask Experts, But Also Do Your Own Research

Many experts will tell you that aluminum is a green material. Billions of tons of trade show displays have been made from it and many companies tout that it is a green material. Yes, it is recyclable but when compared to durable recycled fiber tubes, or wood even, it is not green at all. In fact, aluminum mining causes horrible environmental and social degradation. Our philosophy at Boothster is to use recycled fiber tubes instead of aluminum for our trade show displays. The tubes are far more biodegradable and sustainable.

The more you learn about the materials, the more you can make informed decisions about what you are buying.

4. Interesting Facts About Cardboard:

- Cardboard glue is made from water and starch so that it does not make people sick when it comes in contact with food.

- Recycled cardboard is more malleable than virgin paper which makes it easier to create the ridges in corrugated cardboard.

This is one of many reasons we have replaced aluminum with cardboard for structural and signage applications for our trade show displays.

Sustainable properties of cardboard for tradeshow booth structures

TIP: Avoid using aluminum for display structures


Experts might also have you believe that plastic is an eco friendly material. Only kind of, because it’s recyclable. Its much better to use post consumer recycled plastic such as our 40% recycled PET bottle plastic. It’s also key to close the loop by making sure when you do use plastic, you make sure it gets recycled.

Honeycomb cardboard is even greener than plastic. When we have panel graphics made, we use cardboard or honeycomb cardboard.


TIP: Avoid using plastic for sign displays. Use cardboard!


There is a lot of misinformation about banners online. Soy or water based inks are touted as being “green”. Vinyl is claimed to be recyclable or biodegradable. Yes, some claims are partially true, but I go back to common sense. Natural materials like bamboo or cotton are obviously doing to break down in the environment naturally because they are natural. That makes them inherently more green than vinyl.

When it comes to inks, soy and water based have been around for a long time, but they don’t hold color without being laminated- with plastic. So you think you are making a “green display” choice when in fact 95% of the banner is not eco friendly. Its better to go with a direct print ink which adheres to a supremely green banner material like bamboo fiber. We are really excited about our new bamboo banner fiber banner material which is grown in pesticide free bamboo plantations, is 99.6% biodegradable and REACH certified. When you are looking for a graphic trade show display which prints millions of vibrant colors, its the most “green” or “eco friendly” choice for exhibiting at trade shows.


TIP: Use cotton banner material instead of vinyl for banners.

5. Get Creative to Stand Out

Trade shows, events and conferences are literally a sea of plastic, aluminum and rickety parts and pieces. Conventional wisdom these days says do a full color, vibrant printed banner display. By all means do so, and make sure it’s eco-friendly - but what if there is a better way to stand out? If you just need to communicate a simple slogan, why not go “old school” and do a screen print on the back of an old banner? That would certainly stand out on the trade show floor!

Conventional wisdom at exhibits, events and tradeshows also says build a lightweight structure out of aluminum. Instead, why not build it out of kraft paper tubes that are every bit as structural, more aesthetically pleasing and, yes, green. The reality is that ROI is the first priority for booth strategy. What I suggest is that going green will increase your ROI. Green conscious consumers will notice your trade show display because of its creative use of aesthetically pleasing materials.


Creative use of cardboard building materials for custom tradeshow booth design


To learn more about how Boothster can help your company or organization with green tradeshow booth design using recyclable materials and sustainable building practices, give us a call or fill out our contact form today!

Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Organizations July 08 2017

What we’ve found in designing for government agencies over the past 8 years is that there’s always an aspirational story there. People in public service are really are fighting the good fight in the name of social responsibility and sustainability and that’s the story we tell in every booth we design.

 Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Agencies


At Boothster, our philosophy is that design and the aesthetic of specific sustainable materials have the ability to celebrate positive action; and inspire our future. We use materials that are visually beautiful, sustainable and biodegradable. We are, bar none, the most sustainable portable display company in the world. Our designs are works of art that engage attendees, and are a catalyst for conversation and sharing of ideas.

 Boothster Custom Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Agencies


Boothster specializes in creating aspirational spaces for socially responsible, healthy and sustainable organizations. We are a subcontractor of Nichols and Associates, a GSA schedule holder. To learn more about how Boothster can help your government organization with custom tradeshow booth design give us a call or fill out our contact form today!





Healthy for the Planet, Healthy for Your Body!  June 27 2017

Flora Health has been manufacturing and supplying premium herbal products since 1965, but their roots stretch back to Germany in the early 1900s, where Dr. Otto Greither, grandfather of the current owner Thomas Greither, dedicated his life to the discovery, production and distribution of natural health care products. Since then, Flora has preserved his original dedication to perfect herbal remedies that ensure maximum purity, quality and potency with a holistic approach to health.


Flora Health Founders

Beets are one of the most healthy foods you can put in your body and bamboo one of the most healthy renewable materials we can feed our planet. Our client Flora Health is fighting the good fight while operating a successful sustainable green business. One way Flora demonstrates their commitment to sustainable business practices is their decision to utilize our custom bamboo tradeshow banner stands in a variety of consumer, distributor and trade show events.  


Flora Health Custom Bamboo Tradeshow Banner StandThe mission of Flora is to participate in the continuing evolution of the people on Earth toward universal harmony, peace and perfection by providing products and services for the purification and upliftment of the body and spirit, which is another reason why Boothster is proud to work with them on their custom tradeshow banner stands and promotional signage!

10 Questions Your Booth Designer Should Ask June 14 2017

Custom Tradeshow Booth Appeal


Of course, you know tradeshows can be big business. You’re a marketer.


And trade shows are still an important part of your marketing mix, even in the age of content. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there are more than 10,000 tradeshows annually that  generate nearly a TRILLION DOLLARS in economic activity, according to a study by the Events Industry Council. While attending the right tradeshow can shin the spotlight on your business for key players in the industry and generate sales; the wrong one can be just another rat-hole of wasted time and resources.


But you’re a super savvy marketer who already knows this—and you’ve carefully handpicked the best tradeshows for the year, your messaging is crisp, the sales team is aligned and the swag is ready to go. 


But what about your exhibition booth designer?


Perhaps worse than picking the wrong tradeshow—attending the right show with the wrong exhibition booth could leave you lost in the crowd or even damage your brand. A bad exhibit booth is especially painful when you consider the vast majority of tradeshow attendees—more than 80% according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)—have buying authority. It’s like showing up to the Oscars in sweatpants. Sure--they’re cheap; they’re practical. And they send a message. But not the one you want.


Your exhibit is critical to the success of a tradeshow. Whether you realize it or not, both its design and fabrication make statements about your brand. Is your brand a cheap pair of sweatpants? Or Marc Jacobs or Patagonia?


That’s why it’s critical your exhibit designer understands your brand and objectives for a tradeshow. Here’s a list of questions every designer should be asking you to really nail your tradeshow exhibit.


1.    Is this a one-time show/event or a longer-term trade show program?

2.    What are the goals for the trade show program? For example:

    •  Writing orders at show

    •  Build business with existing clients

    •  Get 10 demonstrations per day with new prospects

    •  Launch new product

3.    How big is the trade show space? Is it an island, in line, peninsula configuration or something else?

4.    Does the existing website represent the look and feel of your brand? What other literature, packaging, collateral, etc., represents the brand?

5.    Are there aesthetic elements, even materials that represent the brand?

6.    What are your brand logo(s) and brand guidelines?

7.    What are your Pinterest images or other inspirations?

8.    Do you have photos of old booths? What did/didn’t you like about the old booth(s) as it relates to the goal of this trade show program?

9.    What is your brand/reputation in the context of the trade show and related industries at the conference?

    •  Are you an established brand in need of a refresh?  
    •  Are you a major player who wants a statement booth?  Are you a new brand wanting to stand out?
    •  Are you a hungry startup ready to disrupt the industry?  

10.    What are your needs in terms of shipping, set up, dismantle, booth storage?


Of course, you’ll need the right designer who can actually execute an exhibition booth that captures the essence of your brand.


At Boothster, we push the boundaries of design and sustainability to build exhibition environments that communicate our clients’ values and aspirations. Our sustainable modernist aesthetic uses biodegradable and non-toxic materials to elevate brands and organizations.


Check out our one of our case studies here for example of sustainable modernist design. Naturally, we think it’s pretty neat.


But, regardless of which exhibition designer you select, make sure they ask the right questions to understand your brand. Don’t be sweatpants. Be fabulous. To learn more about how Boothster can help your organization with custom tradeshow booth design, fill out our contact form here!



Many companies renewing their commitment to sustainability despite U.S. exit from Paris climate agreement June 13 2017

Last week, the United States Government decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a pact the U.S. previously made with 194 nations to reverse the negative effects of climate change. For organizations that are committed to sustainable business practices this was perceived as a giant setback to the mission of reversing the damaging effects of climate change. However, despite this disturbing news, climate change continues to be an important international news item and has spurred many companies, organizations and individuals to renew their commitment to green living and promoting sustainable business practices.


Donald Trump's speech about leaving the Paris Accord


Over the past few decades, sustainable business practices have become more mainstream as companies and consumers realized the myriad benefits of reducing their impact on the environment. These benefits include reduced operating costs, reduced waste, improved ability of companies to comply with regulations, improved staff morale and brand awareness.  Even investors now recognize the role sustainability plays in financial returns and are bringing that understanding to investment decisions. Attitudes have also changed among Millennials and younger members of the workforce for whom sustainability is a baseline expectation of their employers.  Today, dozens of major corporations, from Walmart to Toyota, have billion-dollar sustainable business lines, showing that green, sustainable business practices can be profitable and eco friendly as well. That is why the U.S. government’s decision to exit the climate pact is such a shock for millions of American businesses who have learned about the benefits of eco friendly business practices.


Business Sustainability


Despite the U.S. exit from the Paris Agreement companies, organizations and individuals still realize the essential benefits that sustainable business practices provide. For companies like Boothster who were founded with the express purpose of helping companies promote themselves using green, eco-friendly materials, our commitment to fighting climate change remains as strong as ever.  To learn more about how Boothster can help your organization with green, sustainable signage, banners and custom tradeshow booths fill out our contact form today!

Using Certified Eco-Friendly Materials for Custom Tradeshow Booth Design June 06 2017

For companies that are interested in adopting sustainable design practices and utilizing green, recyclable materials for their custom tradeshow booths, the choice of which materials to use can be challenging.  Because wood and wood products are a big component of many of Boothster’s custom tradeshow booth designs, it is important that we use wood products that have been harvested and processed in the most environmentally sustainable way. That is why Boothster uses a combination of wood products that have either been FSC certified as “Eco Friendly”, or that use soy glue instead of chemical based glues. That way we can make sure we are only using wood products harvested and processed in ways that minimize negative environmental impacts. 


Boothster uses FSC Certified Wood Products in all Custom Tradeshow Booth Designs

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC does this by setting standards on forest products, along with certifying and labeling them as eco-friendly. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council are essential for eco-friendly contractors, designers and businessess of all types to positively identify certifiably sustainable materials for their projects.


FSC certified wood used for custom tradeshow booths


By performing due diligence and ensuring custom tradeshow booth building materials are as eco-friendly as possible, Boothster helps clients to become accountable for the environmental impact of their custom tradeshow booths, banners and signage.  If you are interested in learning more about how Boothster can help your organization design a custom tradeshow booth using eco-friendly materials fill out our inquiry form today!


FSC Certified Wood used in GoMacro Custom Tradeshow Booth Design


Why Companies Are Choosing To Avoid PVC Materials in their Tradeshow Booths and Banner Stands May 26 2017

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride plastics are odorless, solid plastics widely used to make pipes, pipe fittings, pipe conduits, vinyl flooring, and vinyl siding as well as many other types of common construction materials, medical devices and consumer products.  PVC materials are cheap and have a wide range of applications, however they also have a wide range of toxic side effects. According to Greenpeace, PVC is THE single most environmentally damaging type of plastic. Because of PVC’s heavy chlorine content, dioxins are released during the manufacturing, burning, or landfilling of PVC. Exposure to dioxins can cause reproductive, developmental, and other health problems, and at least one dioxin is classified as a carcinogen.

Responsible companies avoid PVC plastics

PVC is made from vinyl chloride, which is listed as a human carcinogen in the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program. Dioxins, phthalates, and BPA are suspected to be endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of hormones in the human endocrine system. TCDD dioxin is listed as a human carcinogen, and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is listed as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.

Unfortunately, due to the wide range of applications for PVC plastic in construction materials, medical devices and consumer products, the amount of toxic carcinogens we are exposed to is more than significant, it is hurting us, our kids and all living things!  Especially for companies that embrace sustainable business practices and want to reduce the negative impacts of their business on the environment, eliminating the use of PVC plastics is an important step towards that goal.

Recyclable Custom Tradeshow Booth

This is one of the reasons Boothster was founded, to help companies build attractive, custom tradeshow booths that promote their brand using sustainable and recyclable materials and building practices.  From reusable, green tradeshow banner stands to fully recyclable custom tradeshow booth designs, Boothster is committed to helping companies eliminate the use of wasteful, harmful materials like PVC in their tradeshow booths, signage and promotional materials. If you are interested in how Boothster can help your company with a sustainable custom booth design at your next tradeshow, fill out our contact form today!

Brazi Bites and Boothster - a delicious collaboration! May 20 2017

Brazi Bites are new brand of delicious, all natural, gluten free cheesebreads that are taking the country by storm. The Boothologist recently had the pleasure of working with them on their latest custom tradeshow booth and trying some of their delicious new cheesebreads!

Boothster proud to work with Pacifica Beauty on their recent custom tradeshow booth at Natural Products Expo West May 14 2017

Pacifica Beauty has become known as one of the most innovative, creative natural beauty brands on the market with a full range of innovative, safe, and sustainable cosmetics, perfumes and skin care. Working with companies who emphasize natural and sustainable business practices is what Boothster is all about and we are proud to have worked with Pacifica Beauty on their recent custom tradeshow booth design at Natural Products Expo West!

Pacifica Beauty Custom Tradeshow Booth Design by Boothster

The challenge of this project was to “Design an ethereal, fantasy like experience... oh and come up with a concept for a unicorn..." Creatively, this project was one of the more fun ones in recent memory.

Custom Tradeshow Booth Design at NPEW


Our stellar team put our own spin on the iconic yet often campy Unicorn people are used to seeing by using CNC technology, Pacifica brand colors and an ultra light FSC certified wood product we recently discovered and have now integrated into our repertoire. FSC certified plywood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as a responsibly harvested timber product, which helps to support healthy, sustainable forests!

Sustainable Tradeshow Booth Design

Booth design by Turn Design and Boothster. Detailing by Fletcher Visual.

Earth Rated and Boothster collaborate on cost effective and environmentally friendly custom tradeshow booth design May 05 2017

Earth Rated is a sustainable lifestyle brand for dog lovers that focuses on providing an essential product for our furry friends; biodegrable and recyclable doggie bags that help reduce landfill waste with unique plant based ingredients and bacterial cultures that break down the baggies naturally! Earth Rated’s dedication to green lifestyles and sustainable solutions to common problems is why Boothster is proud to work with them on their recent custom tradeshow booth design!


Boothster Sustainable Tradeshow Booth Design


This booth design for Earth Rated is very special because the walls were built to be the lightest trade show walls ever, i.e. 50-70 percent lighter than typical walls which saves at least $1000 per show in drayage!


Boothster Green Tradeshow Booth Design


Boothster and Earth Rated Collaborate on Cost Effective Tradeshow Booth Design


This booth was also built with FSC certified plywood, meaning that it is Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as a responsibly harvested timber product, which helps to support healthy, sustainable forests! The innovative wall design changes and the use of the FSC Drywall helped to make this custom tradeshow booth cost effective and environmentally friendly!

- The Boothologist.