Sept. 3, 2019

Why buy when you can borrow

Keen to try surfing but don’t own a board? Need to drill a hole in a wall or trim a hedge but don’t own the necessary power tools?

Imagine being able to borrow these items for tasks you only do now and then, rather than splash some cash to get them. Community-run tool and other sharing ‘libraries’ help save you money, and kick goals for the planet.

Tool libraries have been running in North America and Europe for years. It’s great news for us that Australia is slowly catching up as we rethink the way we consume. The sharing movement is building on home turf.

So why is sharing good?

It’s a sobering fact, but the average power drill is used for only 13 minutes in its lifetime. The sharing model gives tools multiple lives, which means less resources needed to make new tools and less waste going to landfill. That’s a big tick for the environment.

Tool libraries are also a great way to meet your neighbours and learn some new skills. Community and borrowing go hand in hand. And, did we mention you save bucks, that you can divert to fun holiday plans instead?

What’s happening locally?

Sydney’s first tool library - the Inner West Tool Library (IWTL) - opened this year at Petersham. There are now around 13 tool libraries in Australia including a few in NSW: Make-Do Illawarra, Share Shop Newcastle and Hawkesbury Remakery.

IWTL’s mission is to provide tools for all people to live low waste and sustainable lives. “We’re driven by our vision of a future where all people can access the tools they need to create, connect and thrive,” founder Amy Croucher said.

After only 7 months since opening its doors, IWTL has more than 130 members, completed 435 loans and has helped save borrowers $32,000 (that’s $400 per person!). Its 200-plus item inventory is constantly growing and includes circular saws, drills, pressure washers and hedge trimmers. There’s even an ice cream maker, slow cooker and a surf board!

The most popular items? Hedge trimmers, sanders, clamps, lawn mowers, circular saws, drills, pressure washers and the food dehydrator. Go the DIY!

Our 3-Council Regional Environment Program is exploring the opportunity to establish a similar service for the eastern suburbs, so watch this space!

In case you may not have been aware, here in the east, the Bondi Toy Library has been running for 33 years, allowing families to borrow toys. They even have children’s party hire packages including dress up clothes and a bubble machine. You can also borrow games and toys across Randwick City Council's Libraries.

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