In 2021, Rush University Medical Center was in the midst of planning the demolition of one of the older buildings on its west side campus. As staff and departments were decanted out of the Kidston building into other fully furnished spaces across the campus (and in some cases across the system), they left behind tons of office furniture. Through surveying and cataloging items that remained, the Rush team identified more than 27 tons of furniture in the building that totaled an estimated value of nearly $200k.
When a building is set to be demolished, the first step is to completely empty the building, which often results in furniture going straight to a landfill. Over the course of 6 months, 86 clinicians, administrators, researchers, and technicians used Rheaply to divert 19,000 pounds of furniture waste from the landfill to other buildings within the Rush system. The weight of diverted resources is roughly 38 dumpsters, 6 Honda Civics, or half of an entire mobile home – all saved from landfill.
What’s next for Rheaply at Rush?
Through data reporting by Rheaply, Rush was able to notice that office chairs, small desks and small storage solutions were the most sought-after items claimed on the platform. The Rush Environmental Sustainability team is working on trying to capture items that fall under those categories and that are in good condition which would otherwise be thrown away for storage in a small “Reuse Warehouse” in the Atrium Building sub-basement. Rush’s team plans on posting those items to Rheaply in the hopes that there will always be a stock of these, available in real-time on the Rheaply Resource Exchange platform for staff members to share and request assets at their leisure.
Rheaply definitely equipped us to inventory, catalog and move the furniture in a way that we otherwise absolutely could not have done. It made the project accessible instead of seeming like an insurmountable literal landfill.Katie Pittman, Sustainability Coordinator
In the meantime, Rush encourages faculty and staff to continue to keep their eyes on the Rheaply platform and to post surplus items or furniture that their department no longer needs to avoid unnecessary waste and procurement costs. The efforts here make a big impact and can help divert even more furniture waste away from the landfill.
Are you a Rush University staff member or researcher? You can log into Rush University’s resource exchange here.