Lots of office and reception area furniture in nearly new condition. Chairs, desks, book cases, filing cabinets, tables, artwork, and more will be shared at significantly discounted prices. See pictures of some, but not all, available pieces. Please RSVP. Note some larger pieces may need to be picked up at a nearby location.
We started 2018 with a grant from the MA Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen infrastructure and build engagement. We now have a cargo van and lots of new shelves, which allows us to quickly and easily pick up donated resources and make more materials available to schools, non-profits and other institutions.
In March The Great Exchange received MassRecycle’s Recycling Award in the Institution category and is a finalist for Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s 2018 Nonprofit Excellence Award in Innovation; winner to be announced in June.
We currently have over 200 types of items available and by the end of the year we could reach the impressive milestone of 500 tons of resources rescued for reuse! Our growth and plans to expand were recently featured in the Worcester Business Journal: www.wbjournal.com/article/20180430/PRINTEDITION/304279999/devens-great-exchange-business-recycling-program-expanding.
Please keep us in mind when there are excess items in your facility that could be used by other organizations. We will be announcing a distribution event soon!
BY GRANT WELKER
PHOTO / GRANT WELKER
Tracy Pierce (left), the program administrator of the Devens Eco-Efficiency Program, and Dona Neely, executive director, in the basement where donated supplies for the Great Exchange are kept.
Home to plenty of large industrial and commercial companies, Devens is a major creator of trash for North Worcester County.
It’s Dona Neely’s job to make sure as much of that bubble wrap, rolls of labels, clocks, chairs and other supplies as possible is kept out of landfills.
Certain objects are ripe for discount-seeking companies or nonprofits, like chairs, cabinets, wall clocks, shipping boxes or safety glasses. Others are geared toward schools with materials easily doubling as arts-and-crafts projects, like orange plastic trays, small blue caps or all types of ribbon, yarn or stamps.
The program known today as The Great Exchange started a decade ago when Neely arranged for a one-time event meant to help Devens companies avoid throwing out unwanted items. It took some adjustment for businesses to see Neely’s vision.
“I went to the businesses and said, ‘Please bring me your trash,” she said with a laugh. “I think they were more entertained than anything else.”
What started as a one-time business service event strictly for Devens now encompasses nearly three dozen communities throughout New England. A new Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection grant for $59,500 will help The Great Exchange grow further. That will cover costs for a new cargo van so Neely or others don’t need to use their own vehicles to transport materials and for a part-time employee to help with operations.
“We’ll just keep getting bigger and better,” Neely said.
The Great Exchange is part of the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center, a nonprofit at the military base-turned-commerce center also holding educational forums, technical assistance and other opportunities to help Devens’s companies be more environmentally friendly.
That first Great Exchange event was supposed to last just two hours but was finally halted after three when buyers and sellers kept continuing on. The event was held in a meeting room where the Devens Enterprise Commission, the legislative body for Devens, is based. It later outgrew that and went into a larger conference room at the adjacent hotel.
Today, The Great Exchange is planned to include five or six events this year – which Neely said have been likened to Black Friday for the rush of shoppers looking for bargains – and has grown to fill the entire 2,500-square-foot basement of the Devens Enterprise Commission building.
What started as a way to help Devens businesses go green has now grown to span companies in 32 area communities, including those in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Last year, the program diverted 66 tons of material from landfills, and the nearly 100 recipients saved an estimated nearly $300,000.
“So many teachers we interact with, they’re buying this out of their own pocket” if not for the program, said Neely, the executive director of the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.
Since its launch in 2008, The Great Exchange has found new use for more than 400 tons of materials benefitting more than 250 nonprofits and businesses and provided savings of nearly $600,000.
Comrex Corp., a maker of audio and video broadcast equipment for TV and radio stations, has been giving material to The Great Exchange for the past five years.
The company gives foam sheets, bubble wrap and other shipping materials, along with unneeded CDs to be used for crafts projects. Comrex saves on disposal costs, helps the environment and can give a hand to schools and nonprofits.
“If the opportunities are there, let’s take advantage,” said John DeLorme, the Comrex facilities manager.
The program has inspired Comrex to keep other materials out of the landfill, too, DeLorme said. Some shipping materials are reused when Comrex itself ships goods, and others are handed back to firms that ship to Comrex so that the other company can reuse them.
The Great Exchange can benefit from some companies’ misfortune.
When Cains Foods closed its production facility in Ayer last year, Neely was left with an uncountable number of plastic jars and rolls of labels. In all, 48 tons of material was reused, Neely said, including bulk food items to local farms or food pantries. More than 50 entities were recipients of some Cains item, she said.
Much of the goods at The Great Exchange are office staples like desk chairs, clocks or reams of paper. But more useful to many recipients are little colorful gadgets that children can use for anything their imagination will let them.
“We definitely take advantage of some of the more unusual materials,” said Alli Leake, the director of early childhood education at the Discovery Museum in Acton.
The museum is known for its hands-on activities like the da Vinci Workshop, which lets kids come up with any range of creations. The workshop uses packing peanuts, foam, felt materials and leftover plastic pieces of different shapes, sizes and colors.
“It’s really just limited by their own imagination,” Leake said.
© 2018 WBJournal.com
Roundtable tackles emergency preparedness
By M.E. Jones
Nashoba Valley Voice
Friday, November 10, 2017
Vol. 3 No. 45
DEVENS – Hurricanes, Wildfires, Floods. When disaster strikes, businesses need to know what to do.
The Devens Eco-Efficiency Center’s monthly roundtable addressed that issue at its September session, when the topic was Emergency Preparedness. The speaker was Michael E. Russas, Response and Field Services Chief for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA.
Emergency preparedness “makes good business sense” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and “every business should have a plan.” In one of its pamphlets, FEMA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, lays out a “common sense” plan for businesses. It includes a go-to flow chart and emergency supplies list and it should be updated regularly.
In that light, DEEC Executive Director Dona Neely and Program Administrator Tracey Pierce chose an apt topic. Over the past summer and early fall, emergency plans were activated in many areas of the country as super-size hurricanes hit Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Devastating wildfires swept through Northern California. And a mass shooting in Las Vegas left scores of people dead or wounded. It reads like a perfect storm of disasters but Russas said the likelihood of a natural or human-caused disaster striking somewhere, anytime is almost a given. “Not if but when…” is his agency’s motto, he said.
That’s what emergency preparedness is all about. And from MEMA’s slant, it’s a business. To stay current and in “best practices” mode, the agency constantly takes feedback from other agencies and the public to assess and upgrade its operations, Russas said.
MEMA teams typically operate from a central location during major storm events and although satellite centers (trailers) can be deployed when needed, emergency responses are usually left up to the individual cities and towns, which have their own plans in place, Russas said. MEMA helps by coordinating emergency efforts, state-wide, compiling data from other agencies, such as weather reports, and reallocating resources while monitoring the storm from its war room at agency headquarters in Framingham, a windowless bunker built during the Cold War ear and recently remodeled with a Homeland Security grant, including new computer software. Now, his team can track a storm and pinpoint the worst spots on a map, as well as align needs with available resources.
New England’s weather woes trend toward blizzards and ice storms rather than floods, fires or tornadoes, Russas said. But power outages are fairly common and can cause big trouble, so the same advice applies in all cases: Be prepared for the worst.
“We take an all-hazards approach,” Russas said, from a flu pandemic to a hurricane.
It gave those at the table a lot to take away. Shannon Lozeau, of DRS Power Technologies said she’d take tips brought up during discussion back to her company in Fitchburg.
Monthly DEEC Roundtable agendas headline topics of interest to the business community, offering participants – owners, managers and other company representatives – a platform to share insights, experiences and ideas. “It’s an opportunity to learn from colleagues,” Neely said. For more information or to sign up for a Roundtable, contact email@example.com
Great Exchange turns trash into treasure
By Anne O’Connor
Nashoba Valley Voice
Posted:Tue Sep 26 10:29:22 MDT 2017
DEVENS — Savvy bargain hunters knew to arrive early; a line formed before the doors opened.
The Great Exchange turns the trash of one business into the treasure of another. Nonprofit groups score too.
The donated space in the cellar underneath the MassDevelopment offices was filled with shelves, boxes and assembled furniture on Sept. 20. All of the goods were kindly-used or brand new.
The room was a cornucopia of stuff. Plastic bottles and jars, binders and even toilet paper was there for the taking, just about anything except electronics or hazardous goods.
The exchange is part of helping organizations make better use of resources, the mission of the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.
Since 2009, when the first exchange took place, over 400 tons of material have been diverted from landfills, said Executive Director Dona Neely. She estimates close to $500,000 in savings for the more than 225 institutions from 27 area communities that give or take at The Great Exchange.
Businesses save at two ends, she said. They reduce disposal costs when recycling and can reduce purchase cost by taking what they need.
Members of the nonprofit organization can fill boxes during several-times-a-year event or get larger items by making a donation. The suggested amount is usually less than 50 percent of the value.
Non-members can join for the day. Only businesses and non-profit groups qualify and they do not need to be located in Devens.
The swap is held several times a year, now that there is a place to store the goods that Neely collects from businesses. It began as a one-time deal, a get-together with member businesses with clean things to discard and non-profit groups that could use those
This fall, food service-sized jugs from a manufacturer that left the area will find new purpose. Chairs from a cleaned-out conference room will provide seating for another group.
Katie Ferreira filled boxes with things that can be used for craft projects and with office supplies for the Guild of St. Agnes.
The family childcare coordinator who also runs the school-age program said she was getting a lot of everything.
The planned maker spaces at Lowell’s middle schools will benefit. The wide assortment of things “gets your creative juices flowing,” said Patty Myers, the STEM coordinator for the district.
“It’s been great,” she said. The September 2017 exchange was the third time she hunted for treasures at the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.
The early to arrive were wise. Within an hour, some of the shelves that had been filled were nearly empty, Neely said.
“Hold” signs decorated chairs and cabinets.
The Devens Eco-Efficiency Center provides educational programs, technical assistance, networking venues and partnership opportunities to help establishments protect natural, material, human, and capital resources.
For more information visit: https://devensecoefficiencycenter.wordpress.com
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.