Sustainability is at the Heart of ReUse MN Partnership

09/07/2018 by Rebecca Toews

Each year, as part of its commitment to sustainability, Bridging keeps millions of pounds of usable household items out of landfills across the greater Twin Cities area. Part of the reason for this success can be owed to the organization’s partnership with ReUse MN. ReUse MN is a network of businesses, organizations and government entities that work to reduce waste.

“I think of it as a sort of an “idea factory,” says Steve Jameson, Operations and Logistics Manager at Bridging. “It challenges us to rethink how we deal with items that come through Bridging.”

The idea of reuse is not a new concept, but many cities are thinking of ways to engage businesses and organizations to be part of the solution and reduce waste. That’s why Bridging is proud to be one of the founding members of ReUse MN, which was organized in 2012.

“We used to have a 30 yard dumpster we were putting items in that we couldn’t use– today, we have just an 8 yard dumpster– we’ve come a long way!”

Jameson owes the success Bridging has seen reducing waste to a few key factors. Bridging’s policies on what it can accept from furniture donors are based on what can be given away to clients. If an item comes in that is not suitable for clients to use, Bridging will not accept the item. Instead, donors are offered other resources, so that the donor is more likely to take the item to another organization, rather than having it head for the dump. It is partnerships with organizations like the Animal Humane Societies and St. Vincent DePaul that help Bridging cut down on the waste that would otherwise accumulate.

“It’s about being a good steward and knowing we are all part of something bigger. We as a society have got to do better, and we think that this organization [ReUse MN] is a great step in helping reduce waste and re-purpose items to people and places that can use those items.”

For the past five years, Bridging has participated in the ReUse booth at the Eco Experience building located at the Minnesota State Fair. Volunteers from the “electrical shop” at Bridging field questions from fairgoers about how to fix items to prepare them to be donated to Bridging clients.

“We want to get good usable items for our clients… don’t throw it away!” Brad Peterson says. “If it’s repairable or in decent shape, fix it up and bring it to Bridging so someone can use it!”

“The old cliche, ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ is true,” says Jack Stariha, another fair volunteer. “Don’t throw it away, you’re just going to have to buy something that’s not as good of quality! Fix the one you have and reuse it or give it away!”

Note: Bridging does not accept items that are broken or are not in working order; volunteer wood shop and electrical crews primarily test and clean items to ensure the safety of the item before it is passed on to a client.

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