Linens N Love

Mobile app-driven implementation for global sustainability by donating and repurposing cast-off hotel linens to shelters in need

Photo of Vivian Wang
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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In the US, there are over 50,000 hotels housing 1.1 billion guests daily using linens excessively. Alarmingly, this linens wastage of discarding 17,000,000 tons of textiles yearly is overlooked due to a lack of awareness of this common industry practice of discarding linens. As landfills accumulate waste, carbon dioxide & methane are detrimental waste-products (greenhouse gases) & groundwater pollution with toxins contributing to global warming.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Linens N Love envisions a world of zero textile waste, with reduced landfills globally. It’s imperative that we stop this wastage of high-quality linens immediately & that we repurpose these linens to shelters. In 2014, I founded Linens N Love (LNL), a 501(c)3 nonprofit donating castoff hotel linens to shelters including animal shelters, homeless shelters, & teen orphanages. Many high-end franchise hotels frequently discard their linens due to slight imperfections, whether it be a guest that leaves a coffee stain or a faint pen mark. Instead of sending these linens to landfills, LNL rescues & donates them to shelters. To combat excessive textile pollution & waste, we’re increasing involvement via our virtual platforms, including our LNL Virtual Volunteering Program and our mobile app. As we're looking towards our future during COVID-19 to volunteer from home, we're using STEM to catalyze change & develop our mobile app called "Linens N Love Connect", a simple, free application for volunteers globally to use. Using LNL Connect, our virtual volunteers can lead their projects from home and deliver their project (such as gathering their old linens from home) to their local shelters!

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

Our One Year Plan involves continuing to infuse STEM into our mission. Within the 2020-2021 timeframe, we are launching our mobile app, "Linens N Love Connect", that connects LNL volunteers, hotels, & shelters globally to streamline & magnify our impact of rescuing linens from landfills. As we're turning unnecessary landfill accumulation into redistribution of linens, I'm working with my LNL Tech Team to develop this app using JavaScript & CSS coding. It's important that we reduce our landfills while simultaneously repurposing linens. We emphasize inclusivity with LNL & so this app allows volunteers outside of California to volunteer, with our Virtual Volunteering Program integrated into this app. The app involves a 3-step process that's being outlined & researched by our high school LNL Tech Team: 1) volunteer sign up 2) hotel partners 3) nonprofit & shelter recipients. The app will be a simple process; volunteers register when & where they can help donate and transport linens, followed by looking at the list of local hotels that have linens donations. The shelters then choose linens they need. All 3 parties are notified via the app & can track status - a quick 2-minute process!

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Growing up with parents in the hotel industry, my sister & I used to spend hours playing in the hotel breakfast room, waiting for our parents’ workday at the hotel to end. We’d make massive pillow forts and play hide & go seek and were thoroughly entertained with a few chairs and many linens. As we grew older, we realized that these linens that we were playing with were directly from the hotel. With minor imperfections like small stains, linens were put in storage to send to landfills since the hotel franchise standards deemed them unpresentable. My sister & I knew that these linens were completely usable and it was hard for us to notice what was wrong with many of the linens, especially when they did their job of providing warmth & comfort to us when we made our pillow forts. We initiated LNL as two sisters to repurpose hotel linens & save them from accumulating in the landfills.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Over the past 5 years, Linens N Love has been rescuing 18,000+ linens internationally from landfills. 1) November 2014: Start of Linens N Love! 2) 2016 - Current: Mentorship with tech professionals and nonprofit activists; teach us about their experiences with using tech to connect youths & inspire future activists. 3) 2019: Spoke in front of total of 10,000+ youth leaders at WE Day California & Celebration of WE to inspire youths; share about LNL. 4) 2020: Virtual Volunteering Program; global!

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Linens N Love bridges volunteering with environmental awareness & educational experiences, rescuing thousands of linens from landfills while transporting & donating them shelters. It's important that our leaders see first-hand their impact by embarking on tours of shelters we visit to gain an in-depth understanding of the communities we serve. Volunteering is more than just dropping off donations; it's understanding the cause & the impact that our actions have on our communities. Our app has educational information about each shelter to strengthen empathetic & altruistic service learning.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

500+ members since 2014; 10,000+ shelter residents served; 18,000 linens donated to date; 100,000 linens as our mission; 15+ supporters and partnerships with Disney, Allstate Foundation, Choice Hotels International, Marriott, & City National Bank, to support our environmental impact; Approaching our 6th year as a nonprofit established in 2014; Countries (& states) with Linens N Love volunteers or countries that we have donated to: USA, Canada, India, Indonesia, Mexico & China; Over 20 states in the USA that we have donated to or have active Linens N Love volunteers: Arizona, California, Denver, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Pennsylvania, & more; 5 school & community-based chapters across the US: 3 in CA, 1 in MO, 1 in TX -- each has 30+ members; Social media growth: 500% growth on Instagram within 3 weeks

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

As we continue our social impact during COVID-19, we're expanding our LNL Virtual Volunteering Program. We're taking LNL to the next level with our virtual program to reach 1,000+ members via social media. Our program consists of Research Bloggers, Project Leaders, Ambassadors, & our Tech Team. Each team focuses on 1 aspect of online activism, whether it be our Research Bloggers writing articles for our online magazine to highlight the impact of landfills on global warming or our Tech Team that’s using this time right now to work on research & development for our app. By Dec. 2020, we'll grow our organization by 2000% with projected 5,000 volunteers using LNL Connect! We’re also partnering with Choice Hotels Owners Council for LNL Connect.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

With the launch of our Virtual Volunteering Program, I'm working with our Research Blogging team on articles that explain ways to recycle, along with interviewing shelters on how they’re overcoming COVID-19, how they're still serving their residents, & how volunteers can still help out. LNL Virtual Project Leaders lead their initiative at home under LNL mentorship, with current projects including making homemade masks, coding our LNL Connect app, & hosting a linens donation drop-off drive.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

Organizations interested in mentoring us to tackle the issue of landfill accumulation that leads to carbon emissions and toxins can provide mentors familiar with app development; they can join us in online mentorship sessions to guide LNL to create the most efficient app possible with app development experts who can help us with coding errors. We’re also looking towards adding partner organizations’ items to our app, including turning hotel convention food wastage into food redistribution.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

We've tested out our Virtual Program to test its scalability as we target altruistically-minded individuals. LNL fuses volunteerism, environmental sustainability, STEM, & service-based learning into 1 cohesive, long-term initiative as we're rapidly expanding since 2014 with our sustainable model & our upcoming app for all to use. LNL offers customized online volunteer opportunities for volunteers’ passions: creating impact via online journalism, developing our app, & leading at-home initiatives.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

Evaluation results

29 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 72.4%

Probably - 20.7%

Maybe - 3.4%

Probably not - 3.4%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 75.9%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 17.2%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 3.4%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 3.4%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 78.6%

4 - Yes, I think so - 14.3%

3 - Maybe - 7.1%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 17.4%

3 - Maybe - 13%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 69%

4 - Yes, I think so - 17.2%

3 - Maybe - 10.3%

2 - Probably not - 3.4%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 70.4%

4- Yes, I think so - 11.1%

3- Maybe - 18.5%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 78.3%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 95.7%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 95.7%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 91.3%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 56.5%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 16.7%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 5.6%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 16.7%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 11.1%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 33.3%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 5.6%

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Attachments (6)

Linens N Love Non-profit Grant Presentation - Linens N Love Mobile App, New Chapters, Growth.pdf

The presentation from December 2019 that Linens N Love presented in December 2019 to Choice Hotels Owners Council Region 12 for a $1,000 grant, with our main focus being the development phase of our mobile app, Linens N Love Connect, after we've moved past the prototype phase. This presentation outlines our recent and ongoing projects (Linens N Love Connect, Linens N Love Virtual Volunteering Program, and Chapter, Youth Leader, & Family Outreach).

Murrieta Hotel Gives $5K Grant To Linens N Love _ Murrieta, CA Patch.pdf

Over the past 5+ years, Linens N Love has partnered with hotels across the nation, including the Comfort Inn & Suites located in Murrieta, California. The Comfort Inn & Suites partnered with Linens N Love in the "Your Community. Your Choice. Choice Hotels Local Business Grant Program Competition" and won 1 of the 5 $5,000 grants as a hotel and non-profit partnership. The Comfort Inn & Suites provides linens donations as they're following the hotel franchise standards and constantly have linens.

linens n love letter of support.docx

Since 2014, Linens N Love has been a partner with HIS House, a youth transitional living home for homeless teens.

Virtual Volunteering_ Linens N Love Ambassador, Project Leader, and Research Blogger Application.pdf

As we're continuing to drive social impact during this pandemic, we've launched our Linens N Love Virtual Volunteering Program to connect volunteers from all around the world, ranging from the US to India. Connecting volunteers from over 20 states in the US, we're focusing on using the power of STEM, specifically technology, to unite our volunteers and create a digital magazine consisting of articles highlighting the dangers of landfill accumulation and its impact on our environment.

Linens N Love _ The Awesome Foundation.pdf

Linens N Love was awarded a $1,000 grant competing among several organizations in Los Angeles, CA, awarded by The Awesome Foundation. We're using this grant to fund the growth of our chapters across the US and to continue to connect with mentors specializing in tech and non-profits.

Linens N Love - DHL and WE Honor the Winners of the Second Annual DHL Youth Volunteer Fellowship Awards With a Once-in-a-lifetime Trip to Ecuador _ DHL _ United States of America.pdf

Linens N Love co-founder Vivian Wang was awarded the DHL Youth Volunteer Fellowship Award as one of six winners among 500+ applicants across the nation for her volunteering and leadership with Linens N Love.


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Photo of Chase Hartman

This is such a cool idea! I've seen a lot of projects but I've never seen anyone do this. It's so needed. Great work!

Photo of Levi Grimm

What a cool idea! Before reading the submission I had no idea that this was an issue, but now I'm ready to support the organization and their change. Also, the experiences that you've had in the hotel industry only make your story more authentic and credible. I work within the food rescue industry and I saw that you were looking to add a food waste reduction portion to your app, I sent you a private message hopefully, we can work together! I love the project, keep it up!

Photo of Vivian Wang

Thanks Levi Grimm for your comment!! Your initiative sounds AWESOME and I would love to see if we can add another tab on our app design to add a food waste reduction portion because I know that a lot of hotel conventions face high amounts of food waste. We receive our linens donations from hotels and so this partnership could be a really awesome idea if we want to truly maximize our impact. The app that we're releasing could combine both the linens and food donations since these donations would be picked up from the same hotel. I received a scholarship this summer to receive mentorship for the designing and releasing of our mobile app called "Linens N Love Connect" and I am definitely going to talk with my mentor regarding how we can add a tab/feature on the LNL Connect app to encompass food repurposing. Connect with me via email and I would love to set something up. Excited to share this news with my team!

Photo of Levi Grimm

That sounds great! I just sent you an email, I hope to connect soon.

Photo of Bina Patel

I have had a pleasure of participating with May and Vivian in their endeavors with LNL. What a dynamic duo! They have certainly filled a void in re purposing hotel linen. They meet obstacles with solutions in mind. I look forward to seeing the next evolution! Good luck and so proud of all your accomplishments.

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Hi Vivian and May! This is such a unique idea. You really drew me in with your experience growing up with parents in the hotel industry, and the change you’ve accomplished through Linens N Love in the last 5 years is very impressive. I look forward to following your journey with the development of the app. There are quite a few Challenge participants in various stages of app development (WeSense, BeeAware, and STEMinate are a few that come to mind) if you're interested in connecting with them and exchanging learnings. Keep up the amazing work!

Photo of Vivian Wang

Thank you so much Sarah Holcomb for your feedback! I've connected with a few of the other Challenge participants who are also implementing an app since we're all in different stages of the app implementation. Since we've been operating almost 6 years now, we're hoping that our app can revolutionize the way that we repurpose these linens. Would love to connect with you! My email is :)