Columbia University Recognized for Reuse Program
The Institution Recycling Network (IRN) was founded in 1999. It's a cooperative, member-led organization with members made up of colleges and universities, independent schools, hospitals, private corporations, and other organizations from the five New England states and New York.
This important network helps keep unused, unwanted, and surplus furniture and office fixtures out of the landfill by sending the surplus to wherever it is needed the most.
In IRN's dealing with Columbia University, from the years 2008 to 2010, it managed to collect and ship more than 4,400 pieces of surplus furniture, totaling over 228 tons, to relief efforts in six countries. Three different local charitable organizations connected through IRN also received part of the donated goods. Kitchen equipment, residential, school, and office furniture, all found new uses at places as far away as Jamaica and Honduras.
Seeing that there are countless numbers of colleges, universities, hospitals, schools, public and private corporations, there is obviously no shortage of unused, surplus furniture to be had. Part of the challenge is to connect those with surplus with those in need and the IRN has proven that they have a network and management system that works efficiently to meet that challenge.
It would be great if more organizations similar to IRN were founded to connect the needs of local communities with the needs of others, no matter where they may be located.
In a sense, IRN is yet another example of how, with creative problem solving solutions, the global village continues to shrink. This is a positive outlook because we will all live with a more sophisticated sense of awareness when we learn that our decisions and actions make a difference in the lives of others, whether the others are our neighbors or people living in other countries.