The office supplies are lined up like the first day of school, but it’s just another day at the Reuse Store.
Opened in spring 2012, the Fairview Southdale Hospital’s Reuse Store offers hospital employees the chance to share, reuse and ultimately cut back on their own carbon footprint.
The concept is simple: Bring your unused office supplies and furniture to the Reuse Store and take only what you need.
Open five days a week, the store is not so much a traditional market as it is a home for unclaimed supplies. Instead of every department ordering for their own needs, they visit the store, where excess supplies from other departments are housed. Employees go to the Reuse Store to find what they need before any new orders are sent out.
“Previously, all of our departments were able to order their own office supplies, but we found there was a lot of variation and waste,” regional supply chain manager Christina Good says.
“When it first started, there was a little learning curve. It’s a way of life now.”
Patrons can find notebooks, pens and other supplies once headed for the dumpster but now given another life. In addition to office supplies, the store also takes hospital-grade furniture, refurbishes it as needed, and stores it until needed by another department. An employee is looking for a chair? They visit the Reuse Store first.
Fairview Southdale is unique in having the largest of this type of store in terms of square footage, but is certainly not the only in the Fairview system. The stores were started several years ago, according to Good, in an attempt to save money and create less waste.
Sustainability coordinator April Schumacher estimates close to $1 million in savings, simply by having their staff involved in the sharing economy of the store.
“Employees are realizing that they’re becoming better stewards by using the store,” Good says. Fairview is creating active members in a larger sustainability network the hospital system has fostered for nearly a decade.
The store is also helping the community in other ways. With Partnership Resources, the store hires adults with disabilities.
“We have four regular staff members, two of whom have been with us for four or five years,” Schumacher says. “They get to work throughout the hospital delivering supplies and interacting with people.”
The Reuse Store has been evolving since its opening five years ago, but remains committed to sustainability in the long term. “The health care industry is the second-largest generator of waste,” Schumacher says. “What we do affects the community, and if we look at that holistically we can work to address issues outside of the average injury.”