Greening Your Trip to the ISSA Show North America 2022 


By Stephen P. Ashkin  

Tens of thousands of people will be descending on Chicago from around the globe for the annual ISSA Show North America. The event will be filled with great educational sessions, meetings between vendors and buyers, introductions of exciting new products and programs, parties, and just plain fun with friends together in Chicago.   

However, with an event this big, we also have a large environmental footprint to consider. As such, this article is designed to provide some easy and fun tips for anyone attending the ISSA Show North America 2022 in order to tread more lightly.   

The following are 16 greening tips ISSA Show attendees can utilize. To make things easier, we’ve broken them down into four categories: 

  • At the hotel 
  • At parties, restaurants, and bars 
  • At the convention center 
  • While traveling 


With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy the show and be a part of the environment’s solution without much effort at all.  

1. Greening your hotel stay

  • Heating, adjusting thermostats, and opening the blinds  

The temperature in Chicago in mid-October typically rests in the mid-to-high 60° F range during the day and will get down into the mid-50°F range during the evenings.   

When leaving your hotel room, turn the thermostat down so the heater isn’t running, and open the blinds so the sun can heat the room. It will only take 15 minutes or so upon returning to get the room to a comfortable sleeping temperature and there is no need to waste energy while the room is unoccupied. 

  • Room electricity use 

As of March 2019, the state’s net electricity generation by source was 7% natural gas, 30% coal-fired (which produces the most greenhouse gas emissions of all energy sources), 54% nuclear (most in the nation), and 10% renewables.  

With that being said, upon leaving the room, take a few seconds to make sure all devices using electricity are turned off. This includes lights, televisions, radios, laptop computers, battery chargers, and other devices that consume electricity. This simple step will help reduce the needless waste of electricity throughout the day.    

  • Water and energy savings with towels and linens 

Hotels use approximately 25 gallons of water per day and per room for laundry operations along with lots of energy to heat the water and to dry towels and linens.  Water use is a big issue, even in Chicago which sits on Lake Michigan. Thus, reusing towels and linens reduces both water and energy use.   

Certainly, if the items are dirty, it is best to get them laundered. But in most cases, they do not need to be laundered every day. Instead, hang them on towel racks and don’t leave them on the floor as they will automatically be washed by staff in that case.  

  • Other water-saving tips 

If a faucet drips just one drop every second, it would waste 5 gallons of water each day.  While this may not sound like a lot, with well over 10,000 convention attendees occupying thousands of rooms, it can quickly add up.  

To counteract this, make sure to turn off the faucets, showers, and bathtubs. If the problem requires a plumber to make repairs, take a moment to call the front desk and let them know. The sooner they fix it, the less water will be wasted.

2. Greening your eating and drinking

  • Eat and drink locally   

Chicago is a great food town. Therefore, when going out to eat and drink, consider a locally owned establishment where the profits are more likely to help the local community. You can also check out the menus for local options including meats, produce, beers, liquors, and other beverages. Supporting local businesses is good for our communities, and it can be a fun experience.   

  • Make wise meat choices 

Raising cows requires at least ten times more resources than chicken, poultry, dairy, or pork. Chicken, dairy, and poultry are relatively similar in their “environmental burden,” according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Beef also requires 28 times more land, six times more fertilizer, and 11 times more water compared to those other food sources [and produces]. It also accounts for up to five times more greenhouse gas emissions. Having said that, enjoy your meal, but understand that your menu selection really does make a difference. 

  • Eat healthily 

Sure, it’s party time in Chicago, but don’t forget to eat your veggies and skip fried foods for healthier preparations. You may find that you really enjoy other options, and there are plenty of them in Chicago. Not to mention, if you have never tried one of the new meatless options (i.e. Beyond Meat or the Impossible Burger), now is the time to give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how indistinguishable they are from beef with a much lower environmental footprint. Plus, our midwestern farmers appreciate it. 

  • Don’t waste food 

Some estimate that as much as 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted representing approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth. While this includes losses on the farm, processing, packaging, transportation, and from the table; a significant portion of it (the portion we can control) is what we take and don’t eat.  Enjoy the dinners and parties but be conscientious about the size of your meals and the leftovers you take with you. Hopefully, the restaurants and hotels are donating untouched food to food pantries but, in many cases, the food is simply left or stashed away in a fridge to never be eaten again.

3. A more sustainable convention

  • Opt for electronic marketing materials 

Some estimate that as much as two-thirds of marketing handouts given at tradeshows simply get thrown away. These materials have significant environmental impacts due to the paper on which they are printed—even if it is sustainably harvested and using green printing processes. Keeping this in mind, rather than taking a paper brochure, have the exhibitors email the information. 

  • Refillable water bottles 

Refillable water bottles are a must at trade shows. Not only will they reduce the number of plastic bottles being wasted or recycled, but because refillable bottles are often insulated, they also help to keep water cooler throughout the day. In the U.S., every second more than 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded, most of which end up in landfills. 

It is estimated that manufacturing all these plastic bottles requires more than 900 million gallons of oil annually. Plus, bringing your own refillable bottle will save you money as water, sodas, and other drinks can be expensive on the tradeshow floor. 

  • Reusable dishware 

When given the choice between washable and reusable plates, cups, forks, etc. versus disposable alternatives – choose the reusable option. While washing these items consumes water, energy, and chemicals, the amount is much less compared to the environmental impacts associated with manufacturing the disposable or even compostable options. 

  • Ask exhibitors what they are doing to be more sustainable 

 Many companies in the cleaning industry are doing great things relative to sustainability, so ask them about it. If you are an exhibitor, be prepared to talk about what your company is doing. The mere act of talking about sustainability sends a clear message that the cleaning industry cares and, more importantly, is making great strides towards reducing unnecessary waste and becoming a more sustainable industry.

4. Transportation while in Chicago

  • Walk

Walk, especially if your hotel is close to the McCormick Place Convention Center. Not only is it better for your health and the environment, but it will eliminate waiting in lines for buses, cabs, and Ubers—and it will save money. 

  • Bus

Take the Convention buses that run every 15 or 20 minutes. No need to deal with Chicago traffic or parking when the buses are so convenient, and they are free! Plus, consider sitting with someone you’ve never met before. It could be the beginning of a great business relationship. 

  • Ridesharing 

Whether driving your own vehicle or taking a cab, Uber, Lift, etc., share the ride with others. If you were already prepared to pay for the ride, adding another passenger won’t add any more cost and will help reduce carbon emissions. Plus, it distributes the environmental impacts across all passengers. Not to mention the fact that this unexpected act of kindness will surely put a smile on someone’s face. 

  • Carbon offsets 

For those who really want to minimize or completely offset the carbon associated with traveling and hotel stays, consider purchasing carbon offsets which are offered by numerous airlines and travel sites. The money typically goes to planting trees or other habitat restoration projects, and new offsets are being developed where the money will go to local projects which offer a component of social justice in addition to the environmental benefits. 

Finally, when you leave your hotel, please consider leaving a gratuity for the housekeeping staff along with a note thanking them for keeping the room clean and healthy. After all, we represent the best of the cleaning industry, and if we aren’t willing to support them, who will? Together, we really can make a difference. 

Register for the ISSA Show North America 2022 today and check out this exclusive interview on green products with Stephen P. Ashkin for more green cleaning and industry insights. 

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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