Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mattress Recycling: A Faith Venture Business as Ministry Idea

At Bud’s Warehouse, we are always fighting the battle of the mess. By nature, a home improvement thrift store has a bit of Sanford and Son built into it. We have to be systematic about fighting our packrat tendencies. Spring offers a great season to work towards a clean and orderly retail environment.

Today, while helping to strategize our clean-up process, I noticed a lone mattress improperly loitering in the tile section. Over the years, mattresses have been one of our biggest problems. By rule, we do not accept mattress donations because it is illegal to resell them in the state of Colorado. But when no one is watching, they like to sneak in. Then we are stuck with an item that we can’t sell.

We need a solution to the used mattress dilemma. I am a big believer that problems provide the seeds of business opportunities. The St Vincent de Paul Center of Oregon provides one answer with its innovative mattress recycling program. They pick up used mattresses for a fee and then process them into recycled material for use in other products. They also use the materials to produce a line of pet mattresses.

Other organizations are also exploring this idea as detailed in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article. Hope Services in San Jose, California, is partnering with Rubicon Programs to test the viability of a mattress recycling operation. Rick Aubury, the well-respected president of Rubicon, believes that such a social venture business holds the promise of sufficient scalability to provide all the resources needed to meet their social mission. In other words, it is a business model that can cover all of its social program expenses through profits…the holy grail of social enterprise.

This is a business model that holds much promise as a potential faith venture.

2 comments:

Kevin Grenier said...

Neat idea. I like the fact that Bud's Warehouse is in the business of taking thrown away stuff and thrown away people and making them all useful again.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Social Venture man,

Hey, let's talk. I have tons and I want out of my own issues to figure out how to get this moving. what do you need and how can we help?

Steve - Urban Mattress