Fostering Hope One Bag at a Time

Tradeshows generate a ton of waste each year with an incredible 600,000 tons of trash turned out every year by the 60 million people who attend tradeshows. This has a huge environmental impact, and T3 Expo was looking for a way to not only utilize some green practices to wrangle the trash, but also to do some good with it.

One morning before heading into the office, one of the T3 Expo founders, Chris Valentine watched a feature story on Good Morning America about an organization called ComfortCases. The non-profit organization was created in 2013 and provides backpacks with essential items like toiletries, pajamas, activities and other items for children in foster care. Thousands of children enter the foster care system each year and most carry little more than the clothes on their backs, and often what they do own is carried in a black trash bag. ComfortCases was founded to provide the essentials to these children on their journey to find home

That same week, Valentine came across a company called Rareform while he was researching a green solution for banner disposal. Rareform was featured on the popular show “Shark Tank.” The company takes billboards and other signage and repurposes them into one-of a kind duffle bags and backpacks. Rareform collects billboard vinyls from all over the country - currently repurposing 20,000 lbs. a month into one-of-a-kind products.  

The idea of recycling tradeshow trash for a cause and combining these organizations was born!

T3 Expo kicked off the first recycling project just last week at the NetSuite + Oracle SuiteWorld, which took place from April 24- April 27 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The banners and signs used at the show will be provided to Rareform, where they will turn them into unique bags for ComfortCases. 

“T3 Expo is honored to be a part of both a strong environmental organization like Rareform, and a wonderful organization to help foster kids like ComfortCases. Every corporate organization should be a part of giving back in some way,” said Valentine. “We are happy to be able to do this and to turn our trash into a child’s treasure.”

Comfort cases was founded by a former foster child, Rob Scheer, who upon adopting foster children as an adult, was appalled to find out kids two decades later were still using trash bags to carry their stuff.

T3 Expo and Rareform are in the process of determining how many bags they can produce as a result from the signage and banners used at the NetSuite + Oracle SuiteWorld show. Currently, ComfortCases is filling orders for 250 cases this month, and that is just out of its Maryland Center. The donation from Rareform and T3 Expo will enable them to produce even more!

May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

“When companies come together, magical things can happen,” said Valentine. “More than 400,000 children and youth are in foster care today, and it is important to celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives. We are happy to be part of some of that positive change!”