Celebrating Earth Day with Habitat

photo credit: _Alicja_//pixabay.com

Shaizeen Khan

Protecting the environment is crucial for the existence of all life. Climate change affects us all and will adversely impact generations after us if current unsustainable living practices are left unaltered.

Waste reduction is the best means of addressing climate change with recycling and reusing of items being the simplest, most efficient ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint in the environment. Recycling saves energy as it requires less energy to manufacture items from recycled goods than raw materials. Reusing is even more efficient at saving energy. Both these methods divert materials from being dumped at landfills where they accumulate to become environmental hazards.

Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga realizes that we can benefit each other and our environment through reusing and recycling in our everyday lives. We constantly look for innovative ways to be environmentally conscious as we proceed with the purpose of providing everyone with safe and affordable housing.

We are proud of our three eco-friendly programs: ReStore, ReVive, and our Source Separation Pilot Program. This Earth Day (April 22) gives us the opportunity to elaborate the ways in which we can protect our environment and come together as a Habitat community.

Photo Credit: Eric Wickham

Our ReStore outlets accept donations of furniture, electronics, and other household items which are then sold at greatly reduced prices. The majority of the funds received through our ReStore outlets are used in building homes for families in need of housing and the rest is spent for covering administrative costs.

Since 2012, our Restores have diverted 5.3 million pounds of waste from the landfill. This is a great way to be environmentally conscious as you have the convenience of either dropping off items you no longer need at our donation centres or having us pick up the donated items from your location. We recently introduced pop-up centres as an extension of our ReStore program for the convenience of those who live far away from our ReStore outlets. You can read more about the pop-up donation centres here.

At our ReVive Centre, volunteers take items that are unusable in their current state and transform them into better-than-new items which helps us divert additional items from being sent to the landfill. Volunteers and companies alike can learn new skills at our ReVive Centre and create unique items through our Book a Team Build, DIY workshops, or Kids Build room. These items are then sold at our ReStores.

photo credit: Eric Wickham

As we are involved in numerous building projects, we recently conducted a five-month study to focus on source separation in the construction industry to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. This research project was funded through a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and led us to work with 24 residential home building companies. We found that just 28 per cent of the builders were taking direct action to keep reusable items from going to the landfill.

This research led us to develop a pilot program which will focus on source separation of materials from construction sites. Both ReStore and ReVive will play a vital role in this project and supplement our efforts to upcycle and repurpose construction materials into items for everyday use. This way our pilot program provides a pathway for builders to source separate and manage their construction waste efficiently. This program is currently seeking funding to be able to move forward with our community partners.

Through our eco-friendly programs, we are reducing waste and making a positive impact on the environment. With your support, we can ensure that our community makes a significant contribution towards a waste-free Ontario.

To find out more about Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s ReStore outlets follow this link.