This month, we celebrate an important milestone: 100,000 mattresses recycled at Houston Furniture Bank! This number represents the work of countless individuals. Houstonians donated their mattresses. Mattress companies and the City of Houston partnered with us. Houston Furniture Bank employees and volunteers put in countless hours of hard work. Beginning in 2012, the program recycled 6,000 mattresses in its first year. In 2019, that number grew to over 27,000 mattresses recycled.
100,000 mattresses, laid end to end would reach beyond Port Arthur from Houston.
Houston Furniture Bank is planning a virtual event to celebrate this milestone. Please join us on July 31st, from 11 am to 12 pm on Facebook Live as we celebrate this achievement together and look to the future. Joining us will be many of the players who make this work possible, including Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner and Terry McDonald, leader of the Cascade Alliance, a national organization that helps nonprofits turn discarded items into stable revenue streams and a source of quality jobs for people with barriers to employment.
Houston Furniture Bank’s Mattress Recycling Center was first established as an innovative solution to a problem. Mattress donations allow us to provide quality bedding to the families we serve. However, only about 15% of all donated mattresses are in good enough condition to be able to be cleaned and given away. Before the establishment of the Mattress Recycling Center, mattresses that could not be used were discarded into Houston’s landfills at a significant financial and environmental cost. Today, mattresses donated at Houston Furniture Bank are recycled or given to a family in need.
Nationwide, is estimated that over 20 million mattresses and box springs are thrown away each year; enough to fill Reliant Stadium five hundred times! Every day, more than 55,000 mattresses are thrown away in the United States. Not only does the average mattress take up 23 cubic feet of landfill space, but mattresses also create pockets for harmful, flammable gasses and contain non-biodegradable synthetic fibers and foam that can take thousands of years to biodegrade.
In 2010, Houston Furniture Bank was selected by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County in Eugene, Oregon to become one of only three entities in the nation to be trained in a leading-edge mattress recycling effort, funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Having pioneered mattress recycling in California in the early 2000s, St. Vincent de Paul was able to provide expertise as we established our operations. In 2012, Houston Furniture Bank partnered with the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department. BBVA donated the funds for specialized containers that can be found at six of the city’s Neighborhood Depositories. Since 2012, all mattresses dropped off at these locations have been brought to Houston Furniture Bank for recycling.
Initial funds for the Mattress Recycling Center were donated by members of the HFB Board. Larry Cress was instrumental in raising and donating funds, Finger Furniture donated space, and Mike Byington, a UofH Ph.D. student built the special rotating tables needed for mattress deconstruction. Since its inception, the Mattress Recycling Center has focused on creating jobs for people in need of a second chance, hiring formerly incarcerated individuals with limited skills, and promoting two entry-level hires to manage the program so far.
The establishment of the Mattress Recycling Center has allowed Houston Furniture Bank to create mutually beneficial partnerships with manufacturers and retailers. Since 2012, Serta Simmons has provided a variety of mattresses to Houston Furniture Bank, both for recycling and for the families we serve. Today, Houston Furniture Bank receives donated mattresses from Serta, Mattress Firm, Ikea, American Furniture Warehouse, Gallery Furniture, Exclusive Furniture, and hotels affiliated with the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston, along with several Hotel Liquidators. These companies choose to send their mattresses to Houston Furniture Bank because they want to give back, keep mattresses out of our landfills, and because recycling with HFB is affordable.
The Cascade Alliance grew out of the Mattress Recycling Program initiated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Eugene, Oregon. The organization has been able to provide the Houston Furniture Bank with crucial knowledge to help grow the Mattress Recycling program and facilitate connections with nationwide companies like Ikea.
The majority of mattresses going to families at Houston Furniture Bank come from the partnership with Serta, now in its seventh successful year. “These are high-quality mattresses that we are able to provide to the families we serve, thanks to the generosity of our industry partners,” said Executive Director Oli Mohammed. “Before the bigger furniture stores and manufacturers got involved, before Serta and Mattress Firm, we never had enough mattresses and they were not the quality that we are giving away today. Mattresses are the most important item for the families we serve.”
In recent years, our program has continued to grow. In 2019 alone, we recycled 76% more mattresses than the previous year. Houston Furniture Bank is committed to growing its Mattress Recycling footprint. With your support, we are working to ensure that every mattress gets recycled and every family has a bed. When the time comes to discard your mattress, donating to Houston Furniture Bank helps us turn problems into solutions.