Learning how to share all over again…

Share all the tools!

Share all the tools!

One of my goals for owning my first home is to keep it free of stuff. This includes the garage. Unfortunately, the garage is already filling up with things. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, living spaces seem to follow the same rules. However, Heather and I found a remedy for our unnecessary accumulation: The NE Seattle Tool Library!

I didn’t know what a tool library was until my wife enlightened me. It’s a common place where people donate tools for public use. Not just hammers and hand saws, but power tools and plumbing supplies and electrical equipment. A whole garage full of crafty goodness, plus a bike repair station and in house large equipment woodworking area. All for a yearly membership fee of $20!

It's like a free hardware store!

It’s like a free hardware store!

It’s based off of the premise of shared resources. Home improvement equipment can cost on the upwards of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the amount of space tools take up gathering dust when not being used. Let’s be honest, unless you’re a hard core manly-man who lives and breathes Home Depot, you might pull out a cordless drill twice a year to do an odd project. Or an emergency comes up and you run down to Ace Hardware for $400 worth of supplies that you may never use again. Very inefficient and wasteful!

Work on your bike at the bike station.

Work on your bike at the bike station.

Shelves of crafty items!

Plenty to choose from at the tool library…

If the community comes together and pools its resources, suddenly you have a plethora of equipment that can be checked out and returned with a common storage space. No more cluttered garage and unused items. Beyond just things to use, there are instruction classes and an information library. Everything you need to repair your sink, sand your deck, or build that brand new arcade cabinet you always wanted! Everyone wins!

This is a big push towards a shared resource economy. Another similar idea (and one that may be implemented at the tool library) is time banking, where people make agreements to share skills. A doctor trades 1 hour of medical service to a family for 1 hour of childcare. A plumber trades 1 hour of plumbing service to a carpenter for 1 hour of carpentry. The importance isn’t on profit but connection.

Ridesharing, couchsurfing, and community gardening are all ways that people across the U.S. are coming together to form closer, more sustainable relationships. It’s an extension of the commons… a public space that is a resource for the whole community and is taken care of by the whole community. A reverse on the trend of resource hoarding; taking as much as you can as fast as you can before someone else can take it.

Come visit the NE Tool Library today!

Heather and I recognize that we have more space than any two people really need. In order to be responsible stewards for this space, we’ve decided to make our space productive. By converting our yard into a growing area, we can produce food not only for ourselves but friends and neighbors. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to be more sustainable and sharing oriented in our new home ownership!

If any of this sounds awesome, look around to see if there are groups and organizations nearby engaging in resource sharing. If not, start one! All it takes is a few people deciding to share with each other to get the idea off the ground.

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About Justin Almeida

Coffee roaster, beer brewer, spirit distiller, capsaicin addict, active activist, peaceful warrior.
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11 Responses to Learning how to share all over again…

  1. Biocadence says:

    Congratulations on owning your home, and thank you for this information! I had never heard of a tool library!

    • Isn’t it a great idea? 🙂 is there one near where you live?

      • Biocadence says:

        Yes, such a great idea! I looked into it and found a lead in Oakland… but hit a dead end when it appeared that “tool” and “library” led me to information about what a great “tool” a “library” is. I was then interrupted, so dropped the search! I am not giving up… as there must be one around here!

  2. Maria says:

    Now this is a share program I can get behind. I owned a house once, now I prefer home to be an apartment but I don’t often have space to store tools, nor do I want to own things I’ll only use once in a decade… Tool share is the answer! Thanks Justin.

    • It’s pretty awesome… I really didnt like the idea of buying a ton of tools and stuff that would sit around in the garage. It’s a great find and really close to my house. So cool! Come visit Seattle and you can check it out. 🙂

      • Maria says:

        May be there in April or May for a week. Another great find is Second Use – check them out if you get into remodeling or decorating.

  3. Tool Libraries are fantastic things. Sadly, I only know of them in theory, and don’t forget to include hacker spaces when you think of tool libraries. Communities are starting to really grow and develop that can help in so many ways. It’s nice to know that we are maturing past the “tragedy of the commons” mentality. Which makes me so happy.

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