One Company’s Humble Quest to Keep Necklace Lanyards from Landfills

Lanyard Library in Action at SVN’s 2013 Conference (Photo Nick Aster)

If you have ever attended a conference or convention then chances are very great that you have worn a necklace lanyard. You remember the little square piece of identification with a plastic cover worn around the neck with a fabric necklace. Once most of us wear them, we throw them away. Take a guess where they wind up once tossed in the round file? There is a project by a company called Fairware that wants to keep lanyards from ending up in landfills.

The project is called Lanyard Library. Through the project’s website, Fairware lends a set of lanyards, which are free to borrow. The only thing they ask for in return is for participants to pay for shipping, and upload images and words about their use to the website to document the use of the lanyards. It’s very easy for those needing lanyards to participate: they just fill out a form via the website. The lanyards are made of recycled plastic bottles, and manufactured in St. Catherine’s Ontario, Canada for Fairware.

Presently, the company is not able to provide the plastic holders (just the fabric necklace) because, as is stated on the project’s website, “We haven’t been able to source a one-size-fits-all option.” However, Fairware can help participants find source holders, or will provide tips for using punched name tags that don’t need an additional holder.

Those hosting events that require lanyards receive benefits from participating in the project. The benefits are not just environmental, but economic as well. The Lanyard Library website lists four benefits that event hosts receive from participating:

  • Save money by not buying your own lanyards
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of your event
  • Demonstrate to delegates your commitment to sustainability
  • Promote your event and organization through the project’s website

Considering the amount of garbage, particularly textiles, that ends up in landfills, every bit of recycling counts. Americans only recycled the equivalent of 34.1 percent of the waste they generated in 2010, according to the EPA.  The waste recycled or composted (85.1 million tons) in 2010 prevented the release of about 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 36 million cars off the road for a year. In 2010, only 15 percent (or two million tons) of all textiles discarded were recycled. The same year, an estimated 13.1 million tons of textiles were manufactured in 2010.

Photo: Lanyard Library

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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