Reuse is entering the mainstream.
It’s almost popular culture.
After the incredible efforts of everyone involved in sustainability and resource efficiency over the last few years, it is rewarding to see reuse making such huge leaps towards being recognised as ‘the norm’.
In this article we are going to explore some of the benefits of reusing and donating office furniture, taking a look at how it cooperates with charities and the local economy, how you can be a recipient and a donor at the same time, and how it transforms workplace culture, as well as a few other things to get you thinking.
Keep on reading to learn more…
Reuse culture is good for the workplace
An office refurbishment can often be seen as the key to bringing a tired and dated workspace back to life. It’s an opportunity to reflect branding, community, and design. But what is a refurbishment saying if it chooses to abandon the past, to dispose of the furniture and equipment that helped it get this far?
Conscious employees want to evolve from the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mentality, one that serves to encourage wastefulness and consumption. Procurement departments are learning that a reuse culture leads to cost savings, meaning money can be put into other areas, such as staff activities or facilities.
Embedding a reuse culture in your organisation can encourage people to work harder, to value the company’s mission, and to make better use of available space.
What about the benefits of furniture recycling?
Here are just a few:
- Fewer raw materials are required for the production of new furniture, preventing unnecessary pollution
- Recycling saves energy
- Fewer greenhouse gases are emitted, making your organisation’s contribution to climate change just a bit smaller
- Saves money on the procurement of assets that your organisation already owns and does not need
- Reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill or incineration
- Allows products to be useful for their entire life cycle instead of until they are no longer deemed aesthetically pleasing
- Gives an opportunity for charities to stock free furniture…
Did we say charities? Yep!
Why give old furniture to charity?
As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, your old office furniture is full of treasures! Unwanted electrical equipment, old chairs, desk, sofas, stationery, and more, can all be useful to a charity. It’s not just charity furniture shops that can benefit from your donations, think also of making charitable donations to community centres, churches, nonprofit organisations, and shelters. There are so many deserving outlets.
Useful equipment should never go to landfill, there will always be a new home for it, it just requires a bit of thought to find the ‘where’. Remember that it helps your community and those within the community who need help. You might also get some tax benefits!
Keen to learn more? This case study from WRAP is very interesting.
Is repurposing furniture a good idea?
A good idea? It’s a great idea! Imagine you’ve got a chair and the fabric is all messed up, tattered, or super dirty. You can’t really salvage that fabric, but if the chair frame itself is still strong, and simply replacing the fabric would give you a functional and comfortable chair, then repurposing it would be a great idea!
We’ve seen even cooler ideas, such as filing cabinets being turned on their side and used as flowerbeds. The truth is though, it doesn’t matter what you turn old furniture into, as long as it’s useful and creates less waste, it’s better than going to landfill.
Are you keen to get creative? Search the term ‘upcycling’, plus the furniture you have available, on a search engine, and see what others have done. Repurposing furniture is not much different from recycling it and it leads to many of the same benefits.
Can office supplies be reused (and reduced) too?
Oh, but of course! Let’s start with paper, if you use a printer regularly or you’ve used one in the past, you may have had a plain paper tray and a scrap paper tray. Paper can be printed onto both sides, immediately halving your usage if you were not doing this before. An even better idea is to put some literature around your printer or in your communications (like your email signature) asking your colleagues ‘do you really need to print this?’. There are actually very few things that need to be printed nowadays.
What about some other supplies? Well, binders, folders, paper clips, pens, pencils, and rubber bands can all be used more than once. Any time you receive a package, you can keep the boxes, remove the labels, store the packaging peanuts, and reuse them for outbound packages. You can create a reuse area for surplus boxes and stationery too.
The staffroom is one area where a lot of waste is created and many reuse opportunities are being ignored. Ask the staff if they have any old cutlery and crockery, like mugs and dishes, to bring in, to ensure that disposable cups, plates, and cutlery are not being used.
Tip: Bulk buy things like coffee, milk, and sugar, to ensure that individually packed sachets are not being used.
Why should you consider taking reused office furniture?
It’s one thing to be the supplier of second-hand furniture, donating it to others, but you can also do your bit for the environment by procuring reused equipment from other organisations. You don’t need to purchase new each time you procure equipment, that’s simply a myth, instead, you can both support and propagate the reuse movement by embracing it on both sides.
Used office furniture is usually in very good condition, as furniture often outlives style and trends, with modern office furniture lasting several decades, and refurbishments happening more frequently. By buying or accepting free reused office furniture, you’re getting high-quality equipment without the expense, meaning your funds can be reinvested into more important business activities.
The final benefit
By now you have a pretty good idea of the benefits of reusing and donating office furniture, so we leave you with just one more thing to think about. Consider the way the world has changed over the last decade. We’ve seen the vegetarian and vegan movements make huge strides, we’ve seen more people work from home, more people commute by bicycle, growing global recycling rates, and much more. Being green is positive, it’s pro-humanity and pro-Earth, it’s something to shout about. That’s the point, you should be shouting about it.
The next time your company makes a progressive decision, such as donating some old computers to charity, or turning a filing cabinet into a flower garden, just make sure to get some photos, to write about it, to spread the word, to let potential customers know that you are thoughtful and considerate. This can win you new business and help to keep the customers you already have.