Each year, over 100 million tons of material end up in landfills. This includes many reusable items–such as furniture, equipment and electronics–from businesses that are renovating or clearing out their storage spaces. Hotels, in particular, regularly find themselves having to deal with hundreds of coffee makers, lamps, curtains, bed linens, and even bulky items like beds when they upgrade.
Instead of throwing away these assets, we strongly encourage businesses to donate the items for reuse. Here is a handy guide to donating for reuse.
By donating instead of throwing away, you will:
- keep reusable items out of the landfill
- help communities in need
- generate good will among staff and clients. Doing good is contagious and sustainable.
And added benefits? You may:
- save money on waste disposal, hauling and storage costs.
- save on disposal costs (eg: for bulky items, electronics, and other materials that need special handling).
- get a tax deduction for charitable donations.
Examples of second lives:
With just a little effort, even seemingly hard-to-place items can find new homes. We know because we have been helping clients avoid the landfill for years.
- We helped one client “recycle” an entire gym full of equipment.
- Late last year in San Francisco, we helped a hotel donate several thousand tons of old wallpaper!
- When one building did a spring cleaning of their office basement, we helped to coordinate the donation of old construction materials to a nonprofit for reuse.
- In Maryland, we facilitated the donation of furniture to a school.
- In NYC, we helped hotels place a discontinued line of amenities with the Rescue Mission.
- Recently, we helped a hotel set up an ongoing partnership with a nonprofit that has helped the hotel by clearing out a host of items, including over 400 beds that are now serving people in need in shelters.
HOW TO BE A SKILLFUL MATCHMAKER
All you need to do is make the connection with charities and organizations that can use the items you need to get rid of. 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?
- Staff network – reach out to staff, tenants and colleagues for ideas and connections.
- 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, or check Great Forest’s donation assistance page.
Once you establish contact, here are a few things to do:
- Communicate clearly. Have pictures of what is available for donation, and make sure you know details like the quantify of items, when they are available, the location for pickup, etc.
- Establish a point of contact. Establish one point of contact on both sides – the donor and receiver.
- Do what you say. This carries a lot of weight on both sides of donor-recipient equation. It may also lead to a lasting, mutually beneficial ongoing relationship.
- Be a patient go-between. Being the “glue” between donors and recipients can take time.
- Senior management support and buy-in is essential. Everyone needs to be on board.
Ready to start? Here’s a list of donation resources that might help.