The Environmental Consequences of Furniture Disposal: Solving the Next Big Waste Problem

This problem is especially visible to professional movers – customers discard or leave behind tons of furniture they do not wish to

carry with them to their new homes.

However, one mover in Westborough, Massachusetts, saw a growing environmental problem and resolved to do something about it.

“Only one-tenth of one percent of all discarded furniture is recycled,” said Mark Silverman, president of Mark’s Moving and Storage, an Arpin Van Lines agent. “However, much of this furniture is still in usable condition and could be spared from the landfill if it is given a new home.”

Silverman started a free service that collects discarded and donated furniture from his customers and distributes the items to those in need, rather than adding more trash to our landfills.

Once the program took off, Silverman started a 501(c)(3) called Mark’s Northeast Furniture Foundation. Since 2011, the foundation has helped repurpose and donate over 2,700 pieces of discarded furniture to needy families. That adds up to 150 tons of furniture, and at more than 44,000 cubic feet, it is enough to cover the football field of Gillette Stadium nearly a foot deep with garbage. The effort has earned media attention and spotlighted the larger issue of furniture disposal.

Last month, the foundation received the 2016 Green Initiative Award from the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, an honor given to innovative companies that provide environmentally sustainable services. The United Way has also recognized the foundation.