Part of a series about the charitable reuse centres operating in Halton Region.
Reuse centres provide many positive benefits to our community: they create jobs, provide affordable shopping, and divert waste from out landfill. Many reuse centres are registered charities, and support many great initiatives to assist with community development.
In 2012, over 3,300 tonnes of material was donated by the residents of Halton Region to local reuse centres. This equates to over 7.2 million pounds of donated material! While a lot of us donate materials to these reuse centres, approximately 7% of the material found in the garbage in Halton is textiles (clothing, bedding, etc). So there’s potential to reuse even more!
When I visited the Burlington Humane Society at 740 Griffith Court, I was welcomed into the bright facility by friendly volunteers and Smokey, a happy long-term feline resident at the Humane Society who is looking for a home.
While touring the facility, Adrienne enlightened me about Society’s operations, including one very important fact that I was personally pleased to hear: Burlington Humane Society is a “no kill” shelter and does not euthanize healthy, adoptable animals.
After a quick tour, we sat down to discuss the history and values of the Burlington Humane Society, as well as their reuse program and how it benefits their operations.
LP: Tell me a bit about the Burlington Humane Society.
AG: The Burlington Humane Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding stray and surrendered animals a loving home. Our organization started in 1974. Residents in Burlington became concerned about the number of stray animals in the city, and these residents came together to form Animal Aid (what the society was originally called). They began by running shelter type activities from their homes to help keep animals off the street and find them loving homes, and with the support of the community, the humane society grew into what it is today.
Thirty-nine years later, the Burlington Humane Society continues to successfully strive to find animals loving homes. We moved to our new location here on Griffith Court five years ago. We can now house 100 to 130 animals (mostly cats), and we are at capacity most of the time. The society runs solely on donations and fundraising, along with the assistance of over 500 volunteers that feed and clean the animals, walk dogs, work as receptionists, maintain the grounds, and run the thrift shops.
LP: How many animals would you say come through the shelter annually? How many are adopted each year?
AG: On average, 700 to 800 animals a year are adopted from the Burlington Humane Society. We are a no-kill shelter for animals, so those cats or dogs that are with us for a while go into our long-term care system.
LP: When did the reuse program start?
AG: The reuse program began in July 1984 with the opening of our first reuse centre, The Attic (located at 479 John Street. The Loft opened five years ago when the Humane Society moved to our new home on Griffith Court, and is a part of the new facility. These stores quickly became our “bread and butter,” so to speak. It is not only a great way to promote reusing and diverting materials from the landfill, but it is a wonderful way to sustain our programs .
As our reuse program expanded, we decided to offer ink cartridge and battery recycling for residents to ensure these products are being recycled safely. It is a part of our environmental initiatives. This building was actually the first geothermal building in Burlington!
LP: What kind of materials do you accept?
AG: Our stores kindly accept dishes, cutlery, soft covered books, clothing, housewares, jewelry, and knick knacks. The humane society itself welcomes animal care donations such as food, leashes, toys, and brushes.
LP: Do you ever receive materials that the Humane Society doesn’t need? If so, what happens with those materials?
AG: Yes, we do sometimes receive materials that we cannot resell because it is either too big for our stores or the shops are at capacity. In these cases, we have several partners that we share our donations with as a best effort to keep materials out of the landfill and find them a new home.
LP: How does the reuse program benefit the humane society?
AG: One hundred per cent of the profits made from The Attic and The Loft thrift stores come back to the Humane Society. These proceeds go towards obtaining medication and vaccinations for all of the animals, providing all of the needs that these animals require, as well as covering the operational costs of running a humane society.
LP: How can residents get involved or help?
AG: We hold a number of fundraising events residents can participate in, including our annual summer bottle drive, Fore the Animals Golf Tournament and ‘RUFF’ ride .We always welcome new volunteers. And, of course, residents who are looking for a pet can always visit our facility where a loving cat or dog is awaiting adoption!
Burlington Humane Society may operate two small reuse centres, but The Attic and The Loft divert approximately 6,800 kg of material from landfill each year! This is substantial not only for extending the life of Halton’s landfill, but as Adrienne highlighted, provides funding to keep the shelter running successfully.
So if you have items you’d like to donate for reuse, or if your family is seriously considering adopting a cat or dog, be sure to give the Burlington Humane Society and its thrift stores a visit.