Global problems require innovative solutions. Ending poverty, improving global health, addressing climate change and more – these defining challenges can’t be addressed or solved by just one actor. It will require partnerships between the public and private sector, nonprofits, and individuals to make real change in the world and achieve global goals.
In the midst of all of this, COVID-19 has added new dimensions to these challenges. The pandemic has highlighted inequities and disrupted traditional systems of school, work and play. Amazingly, though, there are moments where it seems that our current situation has opened doors, rather than closed them. Our work with both private sector and charitable partners has shown us that there are organizations whose creativity and innovation have positioned them to respond to opportunities as they appear and continue progress.
One example is Global Impact’s partner Globechain, a United Kingdom-based start-up. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know Globechain’s work through our operations in the UK and want to share its story to help our community stay positive. Maybe we can even inspire others to try out something new.
The background: The private sector has tons of existing supplies and materials that are in great shape but are no longer wanted. For example, large businesses may be remodeling while staff are working from home during the pandemic, or are even moving to remote work permanently, resulting in an increase in unused inventory that they would love to donate. Meanwhile, charities and small businesses always need supplies and materials while working with limited budgets. Grants do not always cover the basics like office supplies or one-time-use items that were unanticipated but necessary.
The problem: Getting things like office supplies, construction materials and retail fixtures to a new home is a time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming process. Small teams have specific needs, and a large corporation can’t send staff door-to-door looking for someone to take something as singular as a desk lamp. However, it’s a missed opportunity when these items go straight to a landfill when they could be reused or repurposed for years to come.
The solution: Globechain. Globechain is a reuse marketplace that connects corporations to charities, small businesses and people to redistribute unneeded items. The organization has more than 10,000 members, including some of the world’s largest brands. It has connections to retail, construction, hospitality and more. Critically, Globechain has a growing network of nonprofits nationally and internationally – both big and small. Its marketplace is a place for charities to shop as needed for any items they may require. These items can range from construction materials, retail fixtures and furniture, to medical supplies and IT equipment.
Last year alone, Globechain diverted over 6,700 tons (6,100,000 kilos for our metric-using readers) of items from landfills. These items were redistributed both in-country and globally, and the resulting savings amounted to over $4.7 million for charitable causes.
Globechain’s work is unique and customized to best suit its corporate, small business and nonprofit members. Here are a just a few of the great stories that show the impact Globechain’s marketplace has across the world:
Giving old stock new life
Over 600 pallets of obsolete stock used to assemble kitchens was going unused by a multinational home improvement and DIY retailer. With the help of Globechain, 240 tons were diverted from landfills and redistributed to thirteen different charities based in the UK, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Poland.
In Sierra Leone, a charity partner used the pallets to build kitchens in rural community homes. Surplus items were then used to raise funds toward a town library!
Globechain doesn’t just feature typical items – sometimes a corporate partner has unique pieces to redistribute. Last year, two industrial water valves in working condition were donated. Within the hour, they were requested by a charity that runs learning and development programs. They used the water valves in an upskilling project where program participants learned how to prepare and paint metal feature items.
Job training for new hope
Globechain’s partner Expedia has given away a total of 100 computer monitors over the last several months. A charity partner has been using some of these to teach young offenders how to assemble computers and clear data – important skills they can use to re-enter the job market. The completed computers are then resold and the proceeds go to support charities in the UK. As an added benefit to Expedia, donating these monitors saved them thousands of euros in recycling fees.
An ethical remodel
A complex construction project required more than Globechain’s usual services. A 7-floor building housing both occupants and vacant spaces was undergoing a large renovation project. Reusable items needed to be identified and safely removed while handling unique obstacles, such as conducting risk assessments for glass paneling throughout the building and navigating the construction project within tenants still occupying the space. Charities were able to safely collect 100% of the items from the project, and Globechain’s partner obtained their highest sustainability score to date as a result of this collaboration.
It's no secret that reusing items benefits our environment as well as our wallets. When nonprofits can identify solutions that address multiple challenges at once, their potential impact multiplies. Globechain generates social impact data on this giving and helps companies report on how they are achieving their corporate social responsibility goals.
If you are a charity looking for high-quality goods and supplies to serve your organization’s mission, check out Globechain’s marketplace to get started. Corporate partners are invited to learn more here about how they can get involved with Globechain’s work.
With everything going on in the world, it’s refreshing to hear stories of those who are doing good for others and our planet. What are some exciting, innovative charities you admire that are making an impact during this difficult time? Let us know at [email protected] or reach out via Facebook and Twitter.