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The Toronto Tool Library helps you to repair stuff instead of buying new things

4 min read

Better Society
The Toronto Tool Library helps you to repair stuff instead of buying new things
Source: Facebook ToolLibrary

The Toronto Tool Library enables people to borrow things they just need once, at a nominal cost, encouraging a sharing economy and more respectful use of our resources.

Toronto now hosts one of the many tool library and share shop schemes appearing worldwide

The Toronto Tool Library is Toronto’s first community space for sharing tools as wide ranging as generators and drills, to 3D printers and an open-sourced Laser cutter. Anyone can access the library! From community groups and small businesses, to anyone who needs a tool. This is about access over ownership. Similar Tool Library and Share Shop schemes are springing up all over the world.

We're richer when we share The Toronto Tool Library is only one of many such schemes springing up around the world. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Tool libraries: spirit of a global movement

DIY and repurposing culture has exploded in recent years, fuelled by open-source websites such as Intructables and Thingiverse where people share knowledge and how-to guides on how to make everything – from crafting your own bunk bed to making a wallet out of a juice carton to 3D Printing your own fidget spinnerOnline marketplaces such as Etsy and Instagram have even allowed some makers and crafters to take their DIY to the next level, fully supporting themselves on the income they generate from things they make.

Tool Libraries are a rapidly emerging and important branch of this DIY culture, enabling folks who could not otherwise afford the expensive tools needed for these projects to access them at a low cost annual membership fee. Unsurprisingly, tool library locations are popping up across the globe.

For some members, a Tool Library is simply a convenient means to access tools for projects around the home. But for others these spaces are representative of a larger value system that stems from a long history. Concepts of lending and sharing have been shaped by communities that value reciprocity and the commons, who understand humans as only a small part of a larger system. These communities do not distinguish between economic growth and the impact it might have on our social and ecosystem health, but rather, they recognise that human wellbeing (and survival) is intrinsically dependent on how we protect the health of those systems.

Today we stand at a critical point in our human history, a crossroads where we have the opportunity to reconnect with the Earth and with one another, to strengthen a human-earth connection for which many communities around the world never stopped fighting. Less consumption and less waste, increased accessibility for those who have been financially left out, and a community-led opposition to a seemingly indestructible economic system that obstructs the human-earth connection.

Using the library may come from a variety of personal interests and needs, but the overall impact is shared. Tool libraries are one way to contribute to this mission of detaching human needs from monetary value. Clearly, there’s a larger building project at stake here – and we’re sharing the tools with which to build it.

Source & Main Image: TorontoToolLibrary.com

The Share Shed enables people to borrow an item from their inventory for a day or a week for a nominal fee, which saves them having to buy an expensive item they use rarely or even only once. This equates to less manufacturing, less expenditure, more space in the home, and added community spirit.
Borrow items you only need for a short time The Share Shed enables people to borrow an item from their inventory for a day or a week for a nominal fee, which saves them having to buy an expensive item they use rarely or even only once. This equates to less manufacturing, less expenditure, more space in the home, and added community spirit. Source: ShareShed.org.uk

The Share Shed – Library of Things

Similarly, the Share Shed is a ‘Library of Things’ based in Totnes (Devon, UK). The project also enables local people to borrow items at nominal cost so that they don’t have to buy them for themselves. The aim is to build a more resourceful community, allowing people to connect with each other and share things they may need just once in a while, which also reduces our impact on Earth’s precious resources.

People are drowning in their own stuff The Share Shed enables people to borrow all sorts of useful things they just need once in a while at a nominal cost, encouraging a sharing economy and a more mindful and respectful use of our resources. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Less is more

Generally things we don’t use every day that take up space in a garage, kitchen cupboard, or spare room that could be easily be borrowed when needed instead. Often things are only used for a short time; the average drill is only used for about 13 minutes in its entire life. Items people might borrow range from DIY tools, camping and gardening equipment, sewing machine, carpet cleaner, projector, musical instruments or a gazebo.

Originally inspired by the Share Frome project, the charity Network of Wellbeing (NOW) decided to explore the possibility of a similar initiative in Totnes (Devon, UK). After a number of community consultations and surveys, it was clear the local community was very supportive of the idea, so NOW worked for over a year to take the project off the ground.

Source: networkofwellbeing.org

Why use the Share Shed?

On their website, The Share Shed share their values:

We strongly believe that:

  • By collaborating we are stronger
  • We have the duty to care for the Earth’s natural resources
  • Sharing our ‘stuff’ allows those who can’t afford to buy these things to access them
  • Connecting with others improves our wellbeing
  • Sharing is fun!

Resource our community: Sharing items promotes community resilience and empowers people.

Respect The Earth: By sharing we’re encouraging a much more mindful and respectful use of Earth’s precious natural resources.

Source: shareshed.org.uk

‘Peerby’ is a similar initiative in The Netherlands which uses a phone app to connect people

Peerby is the largest online sharing community in the Netherlands. With Peerby you can share and borrow items from your neighbours in a fun and easy way. 

You simply download the Peerby app and borrow the things you need from people in your neighbourhood.

Source: peerby.com

Source: networkofwellbeing.org
The app allows you to discover what people are sharing in your neighborhood and borrow over 4,000 products from people nearby in 30 minutes.
‘Peerby’ in The Netherlands has an app for both iPhone and Android phones The app allows you to discover what people are sharing in your neighborhood and borrow over 4,000 products from people nearby in 30 minutes. Source: Facebook/Peerby
Make an Impact

Start Your Own Community "Library of Things"

As the sharing economy continues to blossom, more communities are establishing "lending libraries" to embrace the beautiful benefits of sharing with neighbours. While this specific article tells you how to set up a Tool Library, the principles for a Library of Things are exactly the same. Happy sharing!