If you’re like me you may have offloaded the odd furniture item via the ‘kerbside recycling system’ in your city. In other words, you’ve taken the old couch outside after dark and left it on the side of the road, trusting that someone with poor eyesight and no sense of smell comes along…
Recently I started thinking about how we might take the model of a ‘furniture recycling room’ which we might design into a residential or retail building for example, and scale it up for a neighbourhood or city.
Initially I was assuming a linear solution, thinking I’d be able to find a large ‘leave-your-old-furniture-here-and-we’ll-pass-it-along’ centre. But as usual my research took me to a different solution – in effect a ‘distributed system’ where there is no centre; the internet.
So rather than leave your unwanted stuff on the kerb, there have emerged a number of cooler ways to move things on… rather than just focus on ‘getting rid of’, we can now focus on giving to someone else, particularly through local charities. And let me be clear, the old sticky couch won’t be acceptable to these avenues – that would require new upholstery, a pair of rubber gloves and steely determination. Or you could give it to Uni students.
Here are two portals for the Australian readers [I was a bit nervous about providing local links for readers in the US, South Africa and Singapore etc. without some local knowledge – you might use some of the following key words to search in your own region];
Givit is a national charity with a great online portal – connecting furniture items with hundreds of charities. You simply register, upload your furniture details and the charity does the rest, often also picking up. Make sure you read the Ts&Cs to see what they do and don’t accept.
GiveNow is a broader giving charity, which includes a portal to give away furniture and goods. The site includes links to Givit, plus links to the Salvos, Vinnies, Lifeline and Youth Off The Streets. Most of these groups will pick up from your place… but don’t give them junk. Give them what you’d be willing to receive.
Ziilch is another portal where you can post unwanted items or details of something you might need. Also has options for giving to charities.
If none of these guys like the squishy sound of your couch, your next step is furniture salvage shops where they might be keen enough to re-upholster, re-life and on-sell.
Given the amount of stuff I see out for hard rubbish collection in my own neighbourhood [and assuming there’s nothing extraordinary about where I live], I’m thinking it would be awesome for each local Council to go around and pick out the things that could be useful to someone else, and send it on to one of the above charities, or even store it at their own depot and liaise with the charities?
Hmmm, sounds like an opportunity for greatness.
And there really was a couch in my life… I can still picture the last time I saw it on the kerb that night… the next morning it was gone. *sniff*