“Every day is landfill day,” says Rose Tourje, Founder and President of ANEW (Asset Network for Education Worldwide), an inspiring non-profit that offers a socially conscious alternative to discarding furniture, fixtures and equipment. ANEW matches surplus furnishings with organizations in need around the world, empowering donors and recipients alike.
“Today, tons of reusable surplus furniture and equipment enter our landfills. Unfortunately it's an easy option at a very high environmental price,” says Tourje. “Each time ANEW successfully matches a client's surplus furnishings to a charity, the life cycle of those items is extended and given an encore to avoid landfill. When items cannot be repurposed due to their condition and/or material content, ANEW coordinates those items for recycle or evaluation for energy-from-waste conversion.”
Since its foundation in 2006, ANEW has diverted more than 4,600 tons of office products and equipment from landfills to over 500 organizations in need. Teknion’s corporate mission stipulates that every piece of furniture that leaves one of its showrooms will be repurposed. To date, Teknion’s partnership with ANEW has found homes for furnishings from seven showrooms. Working with InstallNET, a nationwide group of 250 independently owned commercial furniture installers, ANEW makes furniture repurposing simple and efficient, providing Teknion clients with an environmentally-conscious method of paying-it-forward after office remodelling and renovation. “There is always an organization in need of furnishings and equipment,” Tourje says.
Teknion’s partnership with ANEW goes beyond furniture donation to explore new avenues through which to serve local communities. Most recently, the partnership facilitated the donation of Teknion’s Chicago showroom contents to Public Architecture’s pro bono design challenge. Public Architecture took the 15,000 square feet of furnishing donations and created stimulating aesthetics that transformed the working environments of three Chicago-area non-profits. Beneficiaries of the three-partner collaboration include: Gigi's House, which serves children with Down Syndrome; the Chicago Women's Health Clinic, which brings affordable health care to women; and the Firehouse Community Arts Center (with The House Development Corp.), which provides education in the arts.
“We’ve become what we behold. First we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.”
- Marshall Mcluhan
“What drew us to ANEW is their ability to divert 100 percent of useable, desirable resources from landfill. Supporting community and sustainability hand-in-hand make ANEW a unique partner,” says Tracy Backus, Teknion’s Director of Sustainable Programs. “With over 250 networked service providers, there is virtually no market in North America that can’t be supported by Teknion and the ANEW program. Without the broad reach ANEW and InstallNET have, we would not be knowledgeable of organizations in need, like Gigi’s House. Now their surroundings are enhanced, with attention to aesthetics they may not have been able to afford otherwise.”
With their furnishings and equipment donated, these non-profits can focus on their work in a revived space—and more than 21 tons of furniture avoided the landfill.
“Doing what's right with what's left” is ANEW’s vision, and the non-profit is always on the lookout for donors seeking sustainable practices. ANEW Alchemy is transforming corporate surplus into community service. Developing collaborative methods for sustainability creates healthy communities, and through cooperative contribution, even small organizations can make big impacts. The Teknion-ANEW program gives clients the opportunity to enhance the value of what would otherwise be non-value assets, making collective sustainability the standard.
Donors receive critical documentation – such as tax receipts, diversion metrics and records towards meeting LEED certification – to comply with federal mandates for transparency and compliance, along with the power to revolutionize the disposal of office surplus. Recipients receive repurposed furniture, fixtures and equipment, enabling them to dedicate more valuable time and resources to their cause. And landfills receive a little less waste every day.