Delivering second life furniture with our partners Waste to Wonder

Our Business Development Manager Kate Grimshaw reports on the expedition to The Gambia

Nearly every client Boss Design works with is concerned about sustainability, so our partnership with Waste to Wonder gives us a great story to tell. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the impact this social enterprise has until I travelled to The Gambia to see the work they do first-hand. Our collaboration with Waste to Wonder is a lot more than a box ticked in an ESG summary. 

The Gambia is a tiny country in West Africa. Other than a short coastline, it is entirely surrounded by Senegal, and is one of the world’s poorest countries. 

My visit took place early in February 2024 – a whirlwind of a week which, it’s no exaggeration to say, was lifechanging. On day one, we went to a lower school and an upper school and the difference between British and Gambian schools couldn’t be more staggering. Everything is extremely basic and the heat in the day is overpowering. There’s no electricity, so there are no lights or fans. 

When the truck arrived, it was laden with used chairs and desks. Back home this furniture was considered surplus to requirement – unwanted. It would have gone to landfill or been pulled apart in a waste processing depot. In The Gambia, it was received with incredible joy. The children welcomed us and celebrated, the teachers gave speeches and there was cultural dancing. 

During our trip, more shipments of second life furniture from Boss Design were delivered to other schools and a hospital. We also travelled to communities in Marakissa, Busura and Manduar to see borewells Waste to Wonder helped construct. One of these was funded by a donation from Boss Design.

They say that water is life, but you don’t realise how true this is. Running water is considered a necessity rather than a luxury in our country, but people living in the villages we visited had to walk long distances then carry their water home just to survive. Installing a borewell so that there’s a tap with fresh, running water in a village is literally life-changing for the people living there. They no longer have to worry about where water to drink and wash will come from. It was unbelievable how welcoming and happy the people in these villages were, even though they have so little.

Towards the end of our trip, we went to a market in the capital and bought hundreds of books and pens. The day before we left, we delivered these to the schools we had visited on day one of our journey, along with a football for every class.

The whole experience has changed my perspective on what we do at Boss Design, and on the world in general. Our furniture comes with a five-year warranty but it will last for 20 years or more and Waste to Wonder helps make sure it doesn’t go to waste before its time. As I said at the beginning, that’s a nice story.

However, what’s fundamentally different is that they track where our donations go. They make sure the recipient organisations are legitimate and that other parties don’t get hold of the goods and sell them for profit. With many big charities there simply isn’t this level of traceability. Waste to Wonder might be a relatively small social enterprise but it really is changing lives – I’ve seen it, first-hand.

Boss Design – May 24