Hoteliers are always aware of the need to “maintain their assets,” which generally is taken to mean taking care of the property. To this end, hotels put great effort and expense into frequent upgrading of rooms, public spaces, and other facilities. All of this remodeling and refurbishing typically results in huge amounts of material that ends up being discarded and ultimately sent to landfills. Also destined for landfills are the collateral materials left behind at hotels after events– visors, cups, coffee mugs, note pads, pens, tote bags, and an endless stream of other promotional materials.

Luckily for our over-taxed landfill, our depleting natural resources, and for the rest of us, a small group of SF hoteliers have been busy supporting the community and saving the environment, all while maintaining their assets AND helping the bottom line for good measure.

The San Francisco Hotel/Non-profit Collaborative was started over 12 years ago by Jo Licata, Community Projects Manager at the Hilton San Francisco (who continues to organize and maintain it). The other component of the membership was non-profit organizations–some of the best and most reputable groups serving the SF community. Glide Memorial Church, Street, and St. Anthony’s were among the earliest members. There are now almost 20 large properties, as well as the Moscone Center and other hospitality businesses and well over 20 non-profit organizations that meet on a monthly basis as part of the Hotel/Non-Profit Collaborative.

The goal of the Collaborative is to take usable discards from the waste stream of hospitality organizations and divert them into a steady stream of in-kind support for the non-profit agencies. Each year through the Collaborative hundreds of tons of materials are diverted from our landfills. Non-profit agencies receive desks and beds; at-risk children receive school clothes and toys; re-entry workers receive clothing; children in the Tenderloin receive a chance to learn computer skills… it would be impossible to recount all of the benefits to the community from these small efforts. But one more benefit worth mentioning here is the reduced garbage costs to the businesses. Throwing away all those beds, sofas, foam-core signs, and give-aways costs money in labor and garbage bills. Donating them to worthy causes not only saves money by making the problem ‘go away,’ it also goes a long way in creating a positive spirit of giving throughout the organization.

This Collaborative is really Jo Licata’s project and her passion. Champions like her make a huge difference in their communities and to our world. Thanks, Jo!