Donation Spotlight: Out of the Classroom and into the Community
Class is dismissed for the summer but NYC public school staff is still working hard. In preparation for a fresh start in the fall, custodians at many schools are rotating out items such as desks, chairs, and shelving and finding many useful items in surplus.
Since March of this year, DSNY’s Zero Waste Schools and donateNYC teams have been working with schools throughout the city to keep their surplus goods out of the waste stream and in the hands of those who can use them. To date, the collaboration has diverted over 20 tons of desks and chairs from landfill while providing crucial resources to community groups.
One of the most powerful examples of surplus school furniture doing good was unveiled on August 4th at donateNYC Partner PowerMyLearning’s event. PowerMyLearning helps students in low-income communities, together with their teachers and families, harness the power of digital learning to improve educational outcomes—and they carry out their work using donated computers, keeping electronic waste out of landfill.
PowerMyLearning used desks and chairs donated by a public school in the Bronx through the donateNYC Exchange to outfit a community computing lab at the Caribbean American Center of New York in Brooklyn. For weeks leading up to the event, PowerMyLearning staff worked with CACNY to plan and prepare. In addition to transporting and setting up donated school furniture, they developed instructional programs for the lab and loaded a broad array of educational software onto the computers.
At the inaugural workshop in the space, PowerMyLearning opened the lab to kids and parents from the community and assisted participants in exploring a variety of educational games, allowing kids to destroy asteroids with math-fueled laser beams or build DNA strands, while their parents cheered them on. Jean Alexander of CACNY expressed the organization’s gratitude for the computer lab with enthusiasm: “the equipment will continue to be utilized to serve our communities—that I can PROMISE!”
The great success of this computer lab initiative was helped tremendously by the donated furniture. Anny Chen, Program Coordinator at PowerMyLearning, put it this way: “The school furniture obtained through donateNYC’s Exchange provided an opportunity for CACNY to re-invent their space into an environment that is both welcoming and practical for those that they serve. Our team was happy to participate in this multi-organizational project, which resulted in a community having access to resources that they may not have had access to before. Thanks donateNYC!”
For schools who would like to see their surplus items support such valuable programs or for nonprofits who would like to find donated items, giving goods and finding goods is just a click away: register here for the donateNYC Exchange and write your own reuse success story!
National Thrift Store Day 08.17.18
Celebrate National Thrift Store Day with donateNYC!
On Friday, August 17, 2018, join donateNYC in celebrating National Thrift Store Day by shopping second-hand first.
Thrift Store Day celebrates New York’s vibrant reuse sector while highlighting the many benefits of buying and donating second-hand goods. Thrift and reuse stores not only save shoppers money, they also reduce waste, conserve resources, and help create "green" jobs. Buying secondhand from non-profit thrift stores also provides the added benefit of supporting those organizations’ important social service missions. To find locations near you, please see our map of donateNYC partners.
donateNYC is also collaborating with our Partners Housing Works, Goodwill, Vintage Thrift and Salvation Army for a free Thrift Store Day Crawl along 23rd Street (also known as Thrift Store Row) in Gramercy. Participants who download the donateNYC app can receive 20% off from 5 – 8* pm at participating stores. Snacks and refreshments will also be provided at check-in, which will begin at Housing Works Gramercy (157 E 23rd St). Head to our Eventbrite page to register and find more information on how you can win prizes from donateNYC Partners during the event!
*Vintage Thrift will be closing at 7pm
donateNYC Partnership Report
donateNYC Partner Impact 2017-18
In the past year, donateNYC Partners diverted over 98 million pounds of goods from the landfill by facilitating donations and reuse. 87% percent of the diversion fell into the categories of of food and textiles, two significant sources of waste in New York. According to the Department of Sanitation’s most recent Waste Characterization Study, 21% of all residential waste in NYC consists of food scraps and 6% consists of textiles—it’s clear that donateNYC Partners are responding to urgent waste reduction needs in a big way.
The amount of goods diverted from landfill by donateNYC Partners reduced potential greenhouse gas emissions by 175,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide, an amount equal to keeping 37,026 passenger vehicles off the road or planting 143,900 acres of air-cleaning forests!
donateNYC Partner impact goes beyond environmental—most of our Partners work directly with the communities around them in important ways. In the past year, donateNYC Partners reached more than 1.5 million New Yorkers through family services, housing, health care, professional development, food bank programs, and more. What is more, our Partners helped neighbors help each other: Partners engaged the services of over 34,000 volunteers, who logged a combined total of 27 years of volunteer time!
In addition to breaking down impact, the donateNYC Partnership Report also explores the growth and diversity of the Partnership. In the past year, the partnership expanded by about 70% to over 70 nonprofit organizations. The Partnership also welcomed members from a broader variety of organizations than ever before, including housing providers, animal shelters, and food rescue organizations, housed in countless locations across the five boroughs.
The 2017-18 Partnership Report celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of all of the donateNYC Partners whose work is critical in supporting the City’s zero waste initiative, which aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2030.
Sustainability Spotlight Series
Sustainability Spotlight Series: TDF Costume Collection
On May 9th, donateNYC continued the Sustainability Spotlight Series with a tour of the TDF Costume Collection. The Series, aimed at showcasing the wide array of reuse activities happening among the members of the donateNYC Partnership, kicked off in April with a tour of FABSCRAP’s new warehouse space.
Located within New York’s historic Kaufman Astoria Studios, the TDF Costume Collection sprawls over 16,000 square feet on the seven-building campus where numerous films and television shows are produced. Attendees got to tour the Collection, which houses more than 80,000 costumes and accessories from Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, opera companies, and touring companies. This huge inventory is primarily available for rent at low cost to nonprofit performing arts companies, educational institutions, and other charitable groups nationwide.
According to Stephen Cabral, the director of the Costume Collection, the Collection has rented “to roughly 1,000 different theatres across 37 states.” Once a garment has completed its Costume Collection lifecycle, TDF donates it to places like ACLD, or fellow donateNYC Partners Materials for the Arts and Hour Children.
Many thanks to TDF for hosting and to everybody who came out and joined us!
Zero Waste Dorm Move-Out
Resources for Zero Waste Dorm Move-Outs!
With over 140 colleges and universities in New York City alone, students (like all New Yorkers) generate tons of waste each year, especially when students rotate out of their dorms and off-campus housing at the end of the school year. Each spring, many students leave behind unwanted items that still have value and could be recycled or reused.
By donating or recycling gently used goods instead of discarding them, college students can greatly reduce waste, conserve energy and resources, and save money for school next year!
The NYC Department of Sanitation provides a range of programs and resources to help students and school facilities managers donate and manage unwanted items throughout the year.
Students can find a guide for making their move-out more sustainable HERE.
School Facilities Managers can find a guide for making student move-out more sustainable HERE.
Sustainability Spotlight Series
donateNYC Sustainability Spotlight Series Kicks off with FABSCRAP
donateNYC is pleased to announce the Sustainability Spotlight Series, a series of events that showcase the reuse activities of several organizations in the donateNYC Partnership. The first event, which will occur on Saturday, April 7, will be a tour of donateNYC partner FABSCRAP’s new facility in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. FABSCRAP provides convenient pickup of fabric scraps from commercial businesses as well as fashion and design brands in NYC. FABSCRAP also works with an engaged network of students, artists, crafters, local designers, and industrial processors, using new technologies to reuse and recycle fabric, maximizing its diversion from landfills and supporting creative reuse in NYC. After the tour, those who are interested are welcome to join a volunteer sorting session, where volunteers will help sort all the fabric that FABSCRAP has received from its designers. After completing the session, volunteers will be able to take home up to 5 lbs. of materials from FABSCRAP’s Reuse Room. To register for this event, please click here.
Innovative Reuse Pilot Project
Big Reuse Pilot Project: Paint Reuse
In a recent study, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated that about ten percent of all paint purchased in the United States is ultimately discarded. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, this means that every year, Americans generate over 64 million gallons of leftover household paint – enough to fill almost 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools. To address the issue of paint waste, donateNYC Partner Big Reuse put together a proposal to study the feasibility of diverting leftover paint. The proposal was funded through donateNYC’s Innovative Reuse Pilot Project program.
For the pilot, Big Reuse inspected and sorted over 1,000 partial cans of latex paint and ended up consolidating, filtering, and repackaging 636 gallons of paint into reused 1-gallon containers. They began with five 30-gallon barrels donated from a hotel through the donateNYC Exchange. They then removed the tops, bored a hole in the wall toward the bottom of each barrel and fit each hole with a bulkhead fitting on the inside and a spigot for dispensing the paint on the outside. Next, they placed a removable screen on top of each of the barrels in order to strain clumps out of the paint so they would not end up in the final mix. Like colors were combined together and were then mixed once the barrel was filled. The paint was placed into the gallon containers, sealed, and organized into approximately 10 different colors for resale. This reblended paint can be purchased at their Gowanus Reuse Center for $7.
Thanks to this pilot program, Big Reuse was able to keep over 600 gallons of paint out of landfill and projects that their paint rescue program could be scaled up city-wide in the future.
Currently, residents who want to dispose of unwanted paint can either drop off their paint (along with other household hazardous waste and e-waste) at one of 10 annual DSNY SAFE Disposal Events or take up to five cans per visit to a DSNY Special Waste Drop-Off Site year-round. Businesses with larger quantities of unwanted paint can put up donation listings on the donateNYC Exchange.
Register for the donateNYC Exchange
Register your business or nonprofit for the donateNYC Exchange!
The donateNYC Exchange is an online platform where businesses and nonprofits can donate or receive gently used or surplus materials at no cost. Whether starting up a company, expanding, renovating, moving, or clearing out unsold stock, there is no bad time for giving and finding on the Exchange!
Beyond reduced waste and a cleaner city, registering for the Exchange has benefits for donors and recipients alike: organizations can cut purchasing costs by receiving free, usable goods that support their operations, while donor businesses can save on storage and disposal costs and may receive tax deductions for their donations.
Exchange users include restaurants, arts programs, retail outlets, social service providers, property managers, schools, manufacturers, hotels, community centers, and cultural institutions, to name just a few. With close to 1,000 registrants from countless professional fields across donateNYC’s web platforms, donateNYC’s reuse community is vibrant and active—make sure to check the Exchange often for inspiration on what your company could donate or receive secondhand for free.
Common items listed on the exchange include office furniture & supplies, building materials, and electronics, among many more. Other items claimed from the Exchange have been repurposed for assorted reuse projects, as was the case with our partner Teaching Beyond the Square, who converted almost 1000 outdated uniform shirts into cotton yarn for knitting, crocheting, and weaving activities at their community center.
If you think the Exchange would be right for your organization, feel free to learn more at our FAQ page, contact us for more information, or register right away! For more examples of Exchange success stories, read our most recent donation spotlight article, or take it from those who know best, Exchange users themselves:
"Our office furniture donation through donateNYC was right on time. It helped make our new office a welcoming and professional place for our clients and community members. Thanks, donateNYC!"
- Amaha Kassa, African Communities Together
“donateNYC enabled Earth Angel to keep lightly used props from our clients out of landfills and get them into the hands of organizations in need. Thanks to donateNYC, we can help our clients keep moving toward their zero waste goals.”
- Earth Angel Sustainable Production Services
“Because of the continued support of our local hotel partners through donateNYC, the NYC Rescue Mission is able to more effectively use our resources and provide a better service for our homeless neighbors in need. These donations of toiletries, towels, and sheets help us create a comfortable environment where our guests can not just survive but thrive.”
- Colt Emswiler, New York City Rescue Mission
“Through donating on the donateNYC Exchange, we saved money by not having to pay a large item-dumping fee and we had the satisfaction of knowing it was helping a community close to ours. Using donateNYC is also a great way to build connections. Shalema was a wonderful person to meet and I got to visit her school. There are really no cons to using donateNYC.”
- Jennifer Petersen, Bronx Community Solutions
“It has been a pleasure to work with the people at donateNYC. Their values align with ours at The Apparel Group and the Exchange platform has made it so easy to give to small businesses in need. We have met the most amazing individuals doing such great work throughout the city and are proud to support them—and keep these items out of landfills!”
- Erin Panek, The Apparel Group
“As a product of the NYC public schools who is currently an administrator of an independent school with resources, I cannot allow valuable resources go to waste when I know there are many, many non-profits in need. At the beginning and end of every school year, we go through our library collection and instructional material inventory due to a shortage of storage space. These extra items are then donated to local organizations through the DonateNYC Exchange and Materials for the Arts. We have donated everything from furniture to books and art supplies. Finding a good home for these resources is our goal. Thanks, DonateNYC for making it possible.”
- Lily Shum, Trevor Day School
Donation Spotlight: Hampers with Heart
Donation Spotlight: Hampers with Heart
While walking through a department store or flipping through a store catalogue, how many people have stopped to consider what happens to the model pieces after the displays have been switched out and the photo shoots are done?
Many companies simply throw out their floor and photo models. Luckily, LaMont Home, whose Manhattan showroom was recently full of model hampers and home storage containers, is committed to protecting the environment by putting their products to the test of time. The company stands against disposable design and a throwaway mindset—donation was a natural step.
“Putting them in a dumpster was never an option,” said Al Feliciano, Photographer and Stylist with LaMont. “We donated these items because we knew our products have lasting quality and someone could still use them. We want other companies like ours to know that just because the items are old to them doesn’t mean they can’t be new to someone else—making a donation like this can have benefits beyond your imagination.”
LaMont Home connected to donateNYC with a large batch of hampers and home storage items to donate, and our Partner, Nazareth Housing, was ready to put them to use.
Since 1983, Nazareth Housing has been committed to the promotion of housing stability and economic independence among low-income families and individuals through the provision of homelessness prevention services, emergency family shelter, supportive housing, and urgent needs assistance.
Like all of our donateNYC Partners, Nazareth Housing is deeply engaged in materials reuse: donated, gently-used items make up 60% of the furniture used in all of their emergency family shelter and permanent supportive housing units, and they have also been able to renovate their facilities using donated surplus building supplies.
Once Nazareth Housing picked up the donation, the items were distributed throughout their housing units in the Bronx and the Lower East Side. Deborah Pollock, Nazareth Housing’s Director of Buildings and Operations, said LaMont’s donation was extremely helpful and they are always looking for more: “through donateNYC, we can connect with otherwise hard-to-find donors who have items that can brighten up our units. In this time of budget cutting, donations are especially crucial, and donors can feel good about how we put their items to use instead of throwing them away.”
Most importantly, Deborah highlighted that the donated items were welcomed by Nazareth’s residents and made their housing feel a bit more like home: “From storage to organization to brightening up an otherwise institutionally-furnished unit, such items give people a feeling of hope.”
Donating Responsibly for Hurricane Relief
What to Know Before Donating Goods to Harvey Survivors
The NYC Department of Sanitation and donateNYC encourage the donation of unwanted, usable goods year-round to support the city’s Zero Waste efforts while helping New Yorkers in need. However, in times of disaster, attempting to help by donating unsolicited, used items can actually create obstacles by generating large amounts of waste and diverting much-needed energy and resources toward cleanup and away from those that need it most.
As Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate Texas with catastrophic flooding, New Yorkers who want to help may begin collecting items intended for use in relief operations. It is not unusual for community and civic groups to collect thousands of pounds of materials intended for donation – typically used clothing, canned food, and bottled water – realizing only afterward that they do not know where exactly to send the collection, what their transportation options are, or whether the items are actually needed.
It is typically at this point that such donations—particularly used clothing— become counterproductive and costly to manage, diverting volunteer resources to sorting and management. In the end, unsolicited donations often end up being recycled or disposed of.
Why Cash Donations are Best…And Less Wasteful
The good news is that the simplest and easiest way to support people affected by disasters is also the most economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly – through monetary donations to relief agencies.
Financial contributions enable professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster survivors, when it is needed. Monetary donations allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site, avoiding the delays and steep transportation and logistical costs that can hinder material donations sent from far away. Some commodities, particularly food and water, can almost always be purchased locally – even after devastating emergency situations.
Cash purchases also convey benefits beyond the items procured. They support local merchants and local economies, ensure that commodities are fresh and familiar to survivors, that supplies arrive expeditiously, and that goods are culturally, nutritionally, and environmentally appropriate.
In contrast, unsolicited household donations can clog supply chains, take up space that could better be used to prepare life-saving relief supplies for distribution, and divert relief workers’ time. Unsolicited collections of household items serve no useful function in the acute phase of an emergency operation. Managing piles of unrequested donations may actually add to the cost of relief work by forcing changes to logistical and distribution plans and creating more tasks for relief workers.
Where to Donate Cash?
New Yorkers looking to give should donate to an organization of their choice currently activated for relief operations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends contacting members of Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster [VOADs]
Donation Spotlight: From Workwear to Weaving
Donation Spotlight: From Workwear to Weaving
In March, donateNYC was contacted by another government agency looking to dispose of almost 1000 outdated uniform shirts responsibly and without producing waste. The catch? Because the shirts were decommissioned uniforms, they could not be worn by recipients—but who would accept over half a ton of unwearable shirts?
Ever grateful for the creative network of donateNYC Partners, our staff knew just who to contact: enter Teaching Beyond the Square and their thriving Materials Center. The Materials Center, a community resource hub established in partnership with Manny Cantor Center, features a huge collection of “found” items, gathered and donated by New Yorkers. Programming at the Materials Center transforms objects from our everyday lives and shows that nothing is waste until it is wasted. Workshops centered on rethinking ordinary materials encourage creative expression and problem solving while teaching the importance of repurposing over rejecting objects—such as the decommissioned uniforms—that are no longer useful in their original roles.
When donateNYC reached out to Robin Koo of the Materials Center about the shirts, she saw an opportunity and put the hundreds of pounds of fabric to use right away. On Earth Day, the Materials Center hosted a workshop teaching participants how to convert the shirts into cotton yarn that can be used for a variety of activities such as knitting, crocheting, and weaving. The group snipped and sewed for two hours, creating a large supply of yarn; each participant went home with one ball of yarn for every five t-shirts converted so they could spread the upcycling spirit to their own homes.
The Materials Center has planned some exciting community programs around the yarn made from the donated uniforms. During a few Friday evenings in May, the senior citizens participating in Educational Alliance’s Older Adults program will lead crocheting/knitting workshops using it and on May 30th, participants in Teaching Beyond the Square’s spring symposium will also work with it. The symposium, geared toward educators, will feature activities demonstrating how to deconstruct, transform, convert, and reuse fabric in a variety of ways and with a variety of tools, as well as guided discussions on the ways in which such reuse activities can enrich classroom-based teaching and learning.
In addition to the uniform shirts, Teaching Beyond the Square has claimed and given new life to many other items through donateNYC. Robin explained participation in donateNYC’s network of reuse has come with meaningful benefits, and not just for TBTS itself:
“Prior to our connection with donateNYC and its Partners, we were only collecting materials from our direct surrounding community. In just the few months since we have joined the donateNYC Partnership, our network has widened, giving us access to some great materials, such as 15 overhead projectors and 14,000 brand new credential passes, which we have redistributed to public and independent schools located all around the city. Having joined the donateNYC network of materials reuse, our organization is now part of a larger community of New Yorkers committed to the idea and practice of reuse, and that has been invaluable. The process of reuse and repurposing works better when it feels like you are a part of a community.”
What began as an inconvenient surplus of outdated uniforms has transformed into a set of tools that will demonstrate the value of reuse over and over again. Does your organization have a large amount of items that you don’t want to throw out but can’t seem to repurpose? Create a listing on the donateNYC Exchange and put our staff, Partners, and Exchange users to the test! Surplus can find second life in the right hands.
Register your business or nonprofit now!
If your business or nonprofit accepts second-hand or surplus material goods in NYC, for either re-sell or to distribute to social service clients, then you may qualify for various city-funded services from donateNYC and the NYC Department of Sanitation. Read below to discover the service(s) that apply to you and your business or nonprofit.
This website provides several convenient tools and resources to help New Yorkers keep usable goods out of the waste stream:
Click here to have your organization (thrift shop, nonprofit, antique store, etc.) listed on the donateNYC website as a place where residents can donate, purchase, or receive second-hand goods. donateNYC lists hundreds of places throughout NYC where residents can donate or find second-hand goods, make sure organization is listed by registering now!
The donateNYC Exchange is designed to help NYC based organizations either find or donate surplus materials. Common items made available and posted on the exchange include things like surplus office furniture and bulk workplace supplies. Register here If your organization has items in bulk to donate or is interested in receiving donations of bulk items.
If your organization is a nonprofit organization with operations in NYC that regularly accepts and distributes second-hand goods, then you may qualify to become a donateNYC Partner. Find out more about the donateNYC Partnership by clicking here.
Discover where the nearest place is to either donate or find second-hand goods by searching the donateNYC website or mobile app (iOS & Android). Both will allow you to enter your exact location to locate all the opportunities to give and find goods that are just around the corner.