Image Source: @SawmillSid
The ReVive Centre
Here at Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga (Habitat HM), we rely on the generous donations of our partners to operate effectively and realize our mission of affordable housing for all. Aside from Habitat builds, our various programs utilize donations to generate revenue that covers all operational costs and also funds our build program.
One of these social enterprises is our ReVive Centre, a unique green initiative that helps support our ReStores. ReVive allows us to breathe new life into items donated to the ReStore that are in need of a little TLC. This allows us to take in more donations from our community and divert additional waste from landfill.
Not only do we upcycle donations, we create new and unique items using locally sourced materials, like raw edge hardwood. Using recycled lumber helps us capture carbon and reduce the carbon footprint.
That’s where our partner and friends at Sawmill Sid have leapt into action. As experts in repurposing and recycling wood that would have otherwise been reduced to wood chips, Sid and Sheila (Sawmill Sid’s Founders) recognizes ReVive’s green focus and donates their materials to be used in a number of ReVive’s DIY projects.
“If the outcome of ReVive is to sell and finish projects from our wood for the betterment of a person’s life such as raising funds to build a new home, then that’s a great thing to get out of it,” says Sid.
And he’s right, the ReVive Centre generates revenue by selling the ReVive(d) products through our ReStores. Habitat HM also offers Team Building Experiences through ReVive, allowing teams to flex their creative muscles in our workshop for a charitable cause. The money raised covers all of our administrative costs, allowing us to direct 100% of our donations into building affordable homes for families in our community.
Not only does the ReVive Centre support affordable housing initiatives, it also supports a greener and healthier planet.
One tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year and can take in an entire ton of CO2 by the time it reaches 40 years old. Trees are actually composed of 25% carbon and, as they grow, they bind about 4 times their weight in CO2. While this is integral to the health of our planet, this also unfortunately means that when a tree is disposed of, all of that captured CO2 is released back into the atmosphere.
“We (Sawmill Sid) sequester roughly 6,000 cubic meters of carbon each year, which is big,” explains Sid, “When a log is put on the mill, you’ve got to look at the log and figure out what the highest and best use of that wood is. Whether it’s a beam, two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, or a live-edge material, at the end of the day, it’s not going into wood chipping. That’s why partnering up with other organizations works so well.”
Other than partnering with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s ReVive program, Sawmill Sid is a member of Partners in Project Green, a fast-growing community of groups working together to build an eco-business zone, promoting sustainable practices. They also receive orders from large furniture companies, such as Mattamy Homes and Home Hardware for their repurposed wood.
Sid clarifies that a lot of tree waste is due to extreme weather conditions, such as ice and wind storms. “If you’re a large municipality and you have a strong storm with a big clean up to do, these yards have limited space. So they need to be able to get rid of the wood and move it fast,” he says.
This is where Sawmill Sid has set themselves apart.
“We were pretty much a welcomed gift by the City of Toronto for helping them reduce what they considered waste. People in our business don’t consider fallen trees as waste, we consider it a revenue,” says Sid, “There were a couple of companies before us that were sort of dealing with urban wood but they were taking 5 or 6 logs out of woodlots within the City whereas we’re taking out thousands of logs a year.”
Without Sawmill Sid’s wood repurposing initiatives, the leftovers would be turned into wood chips. While the GTA does not burn their wood, they do grind it into chips and ship the majority of it off.
“Wood chips are the lowest common denominator of any piece of wood, even firewood has a higher use than that because at least it’s carbon neutral. When you’re wood chipping logs, you are allowing all of the carbon to fully escape,” explains Sid, “they’ll throw entire trees into those wood chippers.”
In some cases, the wood chips will be used in retail, for gardening supplies, or in school playgrounds, but the bulk of it really goes into landfill as a buffer between garbage.
Now, a major question is: What do we do with the harvested material to keep that carbon from reentering the atmosphere?
Well, Sawmill Sid has a few ideas.
A Green Focus
In Habitat’s ReVive Centre, groups will partake in a wide variety of DIY projects utilizing Sawmill Sid’s generous donations. From kitchen chairs to full playhouses, there is no limit to what can be created in the ReVive Centre from repurposed materials.
This past October, Sawmill Sid was presented with the Ward 1 Community Excellence Award for Business of the Year, recognizing their environmental impact in Mississauga.
Rightly so, Sawmill Sid has proven themselves to be a highly sustainable business in the GTA.
“Our green initiative is that I have children. This world has got to become a little greener or it’s going to get really ugly,” Sid explains, “If you’ve made a kitchen table from one of our logs or sawed pieces of wood, they’ll have an average of 300 years of of carbon capture locked in them before it get’s to the end of its life. So, whether that table stays a table or is made into something else, you’ve actually helped slow down the carbon release into the atmosphere for at least 2 to 3 full generations.”
Another interesting fact about Sawmill Sid is that they actually have their own beer, brewed by Stonehooker Brewing Company. Stonehooker was buying wood from Sawmill Sid to build their brewhouse when the co-owner came to tell them they were honouring the company with Sawmill Sid Lagered Ale.
Sawmill Sid will soon be working on a program with the Scouts, combining the fine sawdust left over from the mill with coffee grounds from local shops. This mix will actually compost together and become potting soil that the Scouts can then sell as fundraisers.
“When that program starts, that will mean we have zero waste. It has always been our goal to come up with zero-waste programming. One hundred percent usage of every log. Nobody else can say that,” Sid explains.
Bravo Sawmill Sid, Bravo.
About Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable home ownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.
By: Rebecca Mitchell
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