In 2017, Concord, N.H.-based IRN: The Reuse Network placed more than 175,000 items of furniture for reuse with both U.S. and international nonprofits, totaling more than 8 million pounds that filled nearly 650 tractor trailers. Additionally, IRN recycled more than 1 million pounds of furnishings that were unsuitable for reuse.
IRN serves as a matchmaker between U.S. schools, corporations and other organizations that have usable surplus furniture, and U.S. and international charities that use the furniture in disaster relief and economic development projects.
Last year, there were a number of natural disasters that took place around the globe, and furnishings from IRN are playing a vital role in relief and reconstruction efforts in affected areas in the southern U.S., Central America and the Caribbean. IRN’s largest single destination was Jamaica, a staging area for relief and reconstruction in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominica and other islands hard hit by the 2017 hurricanes. Other major destinations included warehouses in Texas, Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Overall in 2017, about 3.3 million pounds of IRN furnishings were distributed in 28 U.S. states, 3.4 million pounds reached 10 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America and more than 1.4 million pounds of IRN furnishings were shipped to Africa, where they were placed in 12 countries. High shipping costs are a limitation on shipments to Asia, where IRN furnishings found recipients in five countries.
“Hundreds of millions of people lack but cannot afford basic furnishings,” said IRN CEO Mark Lennon in a statement. “Tens of millions more are affected annually by floods, hurricanes, war and other natural and man-made disasters. IRN shipped 176,000 items in 2017—we could work a dozen lifetimes and still put hardly a dent in the worldwide need.”
IRN also completed 201 projects for 102 organizations in 26 states, including 31 elementary and secondary schools and districts, 42 colleges and universities, 30 corporate clients and 10 healthcare and government organizations.
Elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities are IRN’s source of classroom and other educational furnishings. Worldwide, these are the furnishings most needed by IRN’s charitable partners. Colleges and independent schools supply residential furniture that is provided to families who are displaced by floods, earthquakes hurricanes and war, or simply don’t have resources to buy basic furnishings. Corporations supply furniture that fills many roles for IRN’s charitable partners—desks and tables are assimilated into classrooms, storage and file cabinets find use in schools and clinics and seating of all kinds is always much needed.
In general, children and students are the greatest beneficiaries of furnishings from IRN. In 2017, IRN shipped more than 37,000 school and student chairs, more than 22,000 student desks, nearly 12,000 work and activity tables and more than 10,000 bookshelves and storage cabinets.
Beds and mattresses along with storage, tables and seating are the most important residential furnishings for disaster relief and community development. In 2017, IRN provided more than 65,000 of these items to worldwide charities.
IRN is starting 2018 with its largest January project backlog ever, and with the most requests for furnishings ever received from its charitable partners. On many Caribbean Islands, reconstruction from 2017 hurricanes is barely underway. And even before the 2017 hurricane season, one of IRN’s international charitable partners put out a call for 20,000 mattresses in 2018. In the U.S., thousands of homes remain to be put back together after Hurricane Harvey.
IRN is gearing up for a busy year and is looking forward to helping place furniture for reuse with various nonprofits and partners around the globe.