How Toronto’s fastest growing ‘valet storage’ startup Second Closet is helping Furniture Bank increase social impact.

How Toronto’s fastest growing ‘valet storage’ startup Second Closet is helping Furniture Bank increase social impact.

Re-posted from LINKEDIN

At Furniture Bank as we look for creative, efficient and effective ways to scale our environmental and social impact. We are working with Furniture Link Inc. to demonstrate how partnerships between business and charities can create sustainable models for maximum social and environmental impact. Over the life of our organization we have diverted more than 20,000 cubic meters of goods from landfill, which created savings for the city exceeding $8,000,000 and turned housing in to homes for over 100,000 men, women and children in our community.

Furniture Bank is a registered charity that provides furniture to our city’s most vulnerable members. as community shelters and social agencies are lucky enough to secure housing for their families. When you have an empty apartment and no financial support, you can spend years living off the floor, using milk crates for chairs, clothing piles for mattresses, and garbage bags for storage.

At the same time we see unwanted furniture all around us. While statistics in Toronto are limited, the trends from other countries are informative. In the U.S. the EPA reports that furniture accounted for 9.8 million tons (4.1 percent) and of all household waste and was the number one least-recycled item in a household. In the UK reports suggest Britons throw away more than 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture every year.

Our primary goal?

To secure more furniture donations for families experiencing furniture poverty here in Toronto and divert usable furniture from landfill.

On March 11th Furniture Link Inc. helped us launch a pilot program with Second Closet to test the use of outsource resources to expand our collection of usable goods without additional investment or cost to Furniture Bank.

In these first 43 days, the pilot has diverted 736 items of home furnishings from landfill into the homes of over 50 families emerging from crisis and displacement. Stacked one atop another, these items measure a full CN Tower’s height of furniture! Based on volume, the pilot saved landfill space that has a value of over $100,000 and created homes for 50 more families from our community agencies and shelters. These same 80 donors got the added bonus of significant charitable receipts for their donations.

More Furniture + More Transportation + More Resources =

More Impact

This is a complex problem. There is more than enough quality furniture, and unfortunately growing need from community agencies and their families. The challenge for Furniture Bank is accessing the furniture, transporting it, and resourcing this redistribution network.

Our vision is to partner with our existing and new stakeholders to divert good quality but unwanted furniture from landfill to households that desperately need it.

Our pilot with Second Closet, and Furniture Link is our most recent program to engage in adding a social component to the Circular Economy, with a sustainable model to deliver our maximum environmental and social impact. We are piloting “more access” and “better transport” without requiring more resources from the Charity.

Our first Second Closet delivery from Furniture Bank donors!

Seeking More Partners for Social Impact and Waste Diversion!

As part of a network of similar charities across Canada and the US, we are working with Furniture Link to forge sustainable commercial relationships to divert more household goods from landfill to homes that need them. We are seeking relationships with removal and moving companies, retailers, manufacturers, government agencies and stakeholders In the Zero Waste movement.

Much more to share on Second Closet, Furniture Link partnerships, expanding our impact in the Toronto area and illustrating the environmental and cost savings to municipalities of a thriving furniture bank in your community.

Where do coffee tables go?

Where do coffee tables go?

Furniture Bank Toronto has found a great way to visualize how to express the impact of in-kind donations to corporate and community partners. As long as you are capturing the items you are collecting and the Zip/postal code of the donor and beneficiary family receiving an item it is not hard today to ‘map’ where the donations come from and go to.

Today’s Example

Later this afternoon we are having a “Build-A-Thon” at a large telco in downtown Toronto. A team of 110 office executives will have 1 hour to build 55 coffee tables and bookcases. They will be collected and brought to the Toronto Furniture Bank and then passed on to families. They should all be in new homes by Friday!  You’ve probably noticed donors have a very hard time visualizing the size of the problem, and we find maps help.

 If you are interested in ‘how’ – let me know and I can write a member post on the steps to do it. Email me dan.kershaw@furniturebank.org and maybe we can collaborate on a joint version. If we all provided data in a consistent format we can map anywhere. 

 

So here are 2 maps visualizing ‘2018 Coffee Table & Bookshelf’ community impact:

Where donations came from (with our pickup service)

Where these same donations we sent too

Furniture Link Case Studies