In March 2013, the first Tool Library in Toronto was born. We were a group of environmental activists jaded with street actions and lectures, and hungry to create something exampling the saner world we imagined. Our goal was to present an easy parallel that would challenge the notion of ‘ownership’ and allow people to explore their hobbies, or the improvement of their homes and gardens without the economic barrier.
We looked ahead to what kinds of structures our civilization would need on Earth to live comfortably and in concert with nature – and made the pretty concrete assumption that wanton consumption as it exists today would have no place!
Sharing is the Most Beautiful Way to Reduce Waste
We asked questions like: What if, instead of 150 drills and saws arriving in boxes, wrapped in plastic, packed onto wood, and thundered up the highways of the world, the existing drills and saws were shared amongst people in the community? Maybe instead of 300 tents spun from cotton in South East Asia, sewn into shape, and stretched on aluminum skeletons, those already made were shared? Perhaps the same can be said of baseball bats, popcorn machines, and disco lights?
Explosive Growth, Now a Sharing Depot, Too!
We had no idea it would explode as it has. 3 years later, we have 4 locations, a makerspace, and one of our Tool Libraries recently converted into the Sharing Depot – Canada’s first Library of Things.
At this new space we pioneer where we believe this sharing revolution must go. Not just tools, but toys, board games, sports equipment, house party supplies, and camping gear. Share it all! For the Earth cannot afford for all of us to own it.
Redefining the ‘Public Library’
These projects have stretched the concept of a Public Library. It is already so easy to imagine the value of borrowing books, and we have learned that this is a normal part of our society. Our goal is to make the concept of borrowing ‘things’ just as commonplace.
We at the Institute for a Resource-Based Economy envision a strategy for cities that includes shared resource hubs — spaces of access over ownership where city residents can have experiences without clutter, waste, and needless consumption. A strategy that takes into account how we are not the final song on the set-list; the concert will continue after we’re gone. This world deserves to be shared with our future generations, they need these resources on which to build their world of tomorrow — and we owe them at least that much.
How You Can Start a Tool Library in Your Community
The primary users of the tool library have been home renovators – families who’ve bought a home in an expensive city whose pockets cannot stretch much farther to redo the counters, extend the deck, fix the roof leak, etc. They walk in with $50 and leave with pressure washers, concrete mixers, and table saws. They leave with the potential to maximize their homes.
For more information on how to start a tool library, check out this article.
We Welcome Hobbyists to the Toronto Tool Library
We also welcome hobbyists experimenting with screen-printing, or 3D printing. Whether it be sewing your own clothes, or making that little meditation stool (as yours-truly did just last week, and upon which my enlightened bottom will now rest), we want these spaces to be learning centres. Bring your ideas and we’ll help you realize them.
Tools Will Come Flying in to Your Tool Library
Despite what you may think, it’s not that difficult to start a tool library in your own community! Once you have a location (arguably the hardest aspect), the tools will come flying in – of the 5,000 currently in stock in Toronto’s 4 tool libraries, 97% were donated. For insurance, policies, waivers, reach out to the growing network of lending libraries across North America and the world. And if you have a question, call me! We’ll give you all the info and support you need.
Access Over Ownership: Concepts for the Future
As much as Toronto residents can benefit from our Tool Library and Sharing Depot, we at the IRBE know that future generations will benefit even more from projects of ‘access’ over ‘ownership’. When working together on these projects, we are motivated by the longevity of our species, and the part we play in it today. This one’s for the great, great, great, great grandchildren. Or for me, this is for my new niece Aviana – I promise, we’ll get this right for you, buttercup. And when you’ve formed words and ask what I did during the great Climate Crisis – I can say, “I shared things, and it felt great.”
Editor’s Note: Save the date! Toronto Tool Library will be hosting the Second Annual International Lending Library Symposium from June 1st-4th, 2017. Details to come at www.TorontoToolLibrary.com.
Posting Guidelines – This and other stories published on WeHateToWaste.com are intended to prompt productive conversation about practical solutions for preventing waste. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors and WeHateToWaste implies no endorsement of the products or organizations mentioned.