A rough estimate suggests that over 40 million people attend a convention or conference in the United States each year.

Of course, conferences are great for economics and vendors – not to mention tourism and travel industries. But they are a nightmare for the environment.

I think of all the lanyards and plastic nametags that have made their way into landfills as a direct result of meetings. It seems that every conference gives a new badge to each participant.

Couldn’t there be an effective way for the nametags to be returned at the end of the event? We have check IN for everything; how about establishing a standard practice to also check OUT? Aldi supermarkets offer a quarter to return the cart from the parking lot; perhaps conventions could offer a monetary reward or hold a deposit? Conventions could have people stationed at the last event to collect the badges – or exchange them for a departing gift. People could be encouraged to wear their ID badges or permanent nametags instead of continually receiving new conference ones. Attendees bring their own computers, notebooks or pens to the meeting – add lanyards to the list.

I know that event planners and marketers like to think that the conference-specific branded lanyard will be a treasured souvenir. It won’t. What it will be is another item in the landfill. May the next nametag you make say Mother Nature.



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