2019 is off to a great start!
In my inbox after the holidays there was a brief, unassuming message: “I have est. of 100 plants to donate“. That was exciting, but I had no idea what to expect – what condition were they in, what size, where?
Usually our website is used by individuals who want to donate a few plants to a good home. They put up a listing, and someone else responds, and I have absolutely nothing to do with how the plants change hands. Once in a while we get listings from event managers or other sources of large donations, and those listings tend to get an enthusiastic response from the community, with the available plants quickly being scooped up by eager members. This batch, however, quickly turned out to be very different.
I made an appointment to check out the plants and get a better idea of what was available. As it turned out, the message had come from a facilities manager at a large midtown Manhattan company. Their offices had seemingly endless rows of lush foliage: Zamioculcas, Aglaonemas, pothos, sansevieria, 6ft tall Dracaenas… The plants just kept going on and on, on multiple floors. And they were all about to be discarded as garbage because the company policy regarding office plants had just changed! Luckily one of their caring facility managers had thoughtfully decided to look for a way to donate them instead – and found our website.
Over the next few days I poured over every single “plants wanted” listing on our old NYC Plant Swap website, checking through the expired postings and anything else I could think of. I sent messages to everyone that had submitted a post looking for plant donations for a nonprofit, school, community space, etc. It took a few weeks of organizing, many phone calls, and a lot of driving… but the results are totally worth it, because we ultimately managed to coordinate with a few different places and save all of those plants!
Art Start, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, helped by picking up many of the plants, which are now helping to improve the indoor air quality at a Bronx shelter they work with. The shared spaces in the building’s basement are now a bit more cheerful with the new greenery, and each family there also got to take some plants!
Mott Haven Academy, a charter school in the South Bronx for children in the foster care system, also picked up a couple dozen plants. According to them, the plants: “really beautify spaces throughout the school. Many students and families have complimented our new plants and that makes us very happy.” Most of the remaining plants went to NYC public school classrooms.
None of this would have been possible without the patient cooperation of numerous staff members from the company that donated the plants. We are all extremely grateful to them! Thanks to their caring attitude, all of those plants (around 200 by a final count) narrowly avoided ending up in a dumpster. That would have been such a tragic waste of everything those plants represent – their beauty, the resources necessary to grow them, their air-purifying qualities, and their potential to be appreciated elsewhere for years to come.
Saving those plants was an absolutely wonderful way to start off the new year, and I hope that with everyone’s help the PlantSwap.org project will continue to grow, spread awareness, and increase our impact. Thank you to everyone who has helped us make a difference so far!