Posted by: miggins | September 22, 2008

Paperless Trade Shows – do they really reduce waste?

I have recently attended two trade shows/conferences.  Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston and Tier1 Research’s Hosting Transformation Summit in Vegas.

At both shows, we were told they were attempting to be more ‘green’ by reducing the wasteful paper printouts which are typically handed out.  I must say, I appreciate that effort to eliminate from my life all the useless one page promos from sponsor companies.

However, instead of paper, each attendee received a USB thumb drive with electronic copies of the sponsor companies material.

Tell me how this is more green?  I would bet that printing out, say, 30 pages of marketing material has less effect on the environment than producing a 512mb thumb drive.  Plus, I now have about 15 of these drives so they are starting to collect in my drawer right next to the other swag (pens, squish balls, etc).

What am I missing here?  It seems to me the old way, while not that great, is more ‘green’ than the new approach.



  1. I agree Robert. I often hear people calling it “The Greener and More Cost-Effective Press Kit”. For business, yes the thumb drives are cheaper to ship in bulk than the paper and you can reduce your fees for payment of graphic designers, printers, and paper suppliers. Not to mention every time you use it you’ll be reminded of the company that you got it from. But that has nothing to do with being green.

    I think the next time someone hands me a thumb drive with their materials on it, I’m going to ask them why they chose that over paper. When they tell me it’s all about going green, I’ll respond with – “How is all this plastic better for the environment?” The answers should be interesting.

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