It’s Not Easy Being Green: Our Quest to Have a Sustainable Office Move

office items for free on tableYou may have already heard the news. Matrix Group is moving. Just down the street. After 10 years, to keep the creative juices flowing, we’re giving ourselves a change of scenery and a change in office format.

We’re moving to a smaller space but we’re not really losing space. Here’s why: we’re moving to a suite that has access to a fantastic kitchen, library, lounge and two state of the art conference rooms. We never would have been able to afford these amenities on our own, so we’re pretty excited.

All of this means that we need less furniture and we need it configured differently from what we have now. We have this beautiful system furniture that we bought 10 years ago. It’s paid for, fully depreciated, made in America, in great shape, and really good looking. I should be able to reuse it, right? Wrong.

Everyone we spoke with said we should buy new furniture. Why? Because it will be too much money to take down, inventory and reassemble the old stuff. Because the new space is different. Because our system is no longer being made, so if we need parts, we’ll be out of luck. Because. Because. Because.

Can we sell the furniture? Not really. Even though there are used furniture companies around, our consultant strongly discouraged us from trying to sell our furniture because it’s no longer being made. “It has to just go to landfill,” we were told. “You will be happier with new furniture and it will cost about the same amount.” Really?

The staff and I decided to take a stand, try to save some money and prevent our furniture from going into landfill. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • We tried out a zillion plans but we finally came up with a plan that uses all existing parts in new and different ways. We love the new plan. You’ll have to come see.
  • We’re working with a local school to donate our excess furniture because public schools are always in need of supplies. I love the idea that some teachers will be able to reuse our beautiful desks and bookcases.
  • We’re also giving away our excess office supplies because once we went through our cabinets, we had dozens of empty binders, boxes of new folders, and reams of legal size paper we’ll never use.
  • We’re giving away desks, frames and kitchenware to staff and eventually to Goodwill. Our large conference room has been a bazaar for the past few weeks; if it’s on the table, anyone can take it.
  • We had dozens of awards (statues and frames) that we just can’t bring with us. We just won’t have the room and some are quite old. Believe it or not, there are places that will take used awards, strip out the labels and reuse them. Imagine this: some drama student is going to get an award previously used for a web design award. Makes me chuckle.
  • We’re giving away a bunch of stuff through a Buy Nothing group on Facebook. What’s a Buy Nothing group? It’s a group on Facebook where all the members agree to ask for what they need and give away their excess. No money is ever exchanged. I love, love, love the Del Ray/Alexandria Buy Nothing group. I’m giving away chairs, office decorations, the works.

It would be much easier to pay our furniture consultants to haul away the old stuff and install new furniture. We also could have just tossed all of our old things. But heck, our landfills are full and China won’t take our recycling. If we don’t even try to reuse, reduce, recycle, they’re just empty words.

In the end, we will save money; we estimate that we’ll be saving half of the cost of buying new by contracting with our consultant to move and reinstall. We will, however, have expended significant staff time to sell and donate our things, but we think it’s been time well spent. Not to mention all the happy people who are getting beautiful, inexpensive or free things from Matrix Group. Rajani (my VP) says it’s good karma to give away all this stuff for nothing or next to nothing.

We’ll post pictures and videos after the move. In the meantime, if you need a desk, call me. Fast.