Sustainability 101

When Hotels Redecorate, What Happens To Hundreds Of Old Items?

Photo by Liz West, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo by Liz West, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

When hotels redecorate or upgrade, the question of what to do with old items like bulky furniture is multiplied by the number of rooms they have.

What do you do with 200 bedding sets and coffee makers? Or 300 compendium boxes (those trays you find in hotel rooms to hold note pads, pens and keys)? Or three trucks worth of pots, plates and other items from a hotel restaurant?

Each year, thousands of items in good condition end up in landfills. This is not only wasteful but costly as well. The best solution, of course, is to recycle the assets by donating them for reuse. Hotels that do this may save on waste hauling costs and get a tax receipt from charities for their contributions. But finding nonprofit organizations that can use the large amount of items hotels want to donate can be difficult. Skillful matchmaking is key. But where to start?

In NYC, where there are hundreds of hotels, Waste Match is a particularly useful service. According to their website, they have diverted over 1 million tonnes of material from landfills and helped program participants realize over $5 million in cost savings. Recently, Maya Shenkman, Great Forest’s director of hotel services, made the following matches with the service:

64 luggage benches from a Holiday Inn and 6 chairs from the Element went to Global Crisis Interventions, an emergency and disaster relief organization.

6 sofas from the Element were donated to the Gregory Iyke Foundation.

250 compendium boxes from the Shelburne and housekeeping carts from Affinia Manhattan went to Build It Green, a nonprofit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials.

The contents of a kitchen at The Plaza Hotel along with items from 200 rooms from Club Quarters went to the World Association For Community Empowerment, Inc (WACE), a nonprofit which helps to empower low-income and immigrant communities and families.  The donated items included:

  • 200 bedding sets
  • 200 coffee makers
  • 2 crates of tea pots
  • 4 full bins of ass’t glassware
  • 8 crates of metal bottle holders
  • 50-100 ass’t dinner & small ceramic small plates
  • 2 crates of metal candle holders
  • 50-100 each assorted pots & pans.
  • 6-12 bins of kitchen culinary equipment
  • Food pans, containers cooking utensils and supplies
  • Toaster, small convection oven

There’s always a need somewhere.  We just need to find the match and make the connection, however big or small. See examples of other matches we have made.

How To Be A Matchmaker

Matches can be made in various ways:

  • Through personal connections – think about who you know.  Perhaps a professional contact at an industry association might have relationships with a charity. Perhaps a cousin or friend works at a nonprofit organization?
  • Look at what’s nearby – like churches, community centers and schools.
  • Research – sometimes matches are made just by calling around to charitable organizations.  Do an online search. Look for resources from your local Department of Sanitation, like NYC’s Waste Match, a free commercial materials exchange service.
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