Quite often I’ll buy a tool, appliance or item to do a job knowing that I may never use it again.
There are so many things we accumulate for single or very infrequent use. This is great for the companies that produce these items and the marketers that promote the products; not so good for the environment.
For example, I have a wood splitter with a steel head weighing seven pounds. Just on carbon emissions involved with the production of the steel for the head, that comes to around 7 pounds of carbon dioxide. Then there’s the energy related emissions for the machining of the steel, the creation of the handle, shipping to the store – and it goes on and on. On top of all this are the other environmental impacts associated with the creation and transportation of this item.
While my wood splitter is something that I use regularly, I have plenty of garden and carpentry tools that haven’t seen any work for years; quietly rusting away in my shed.
Across the USA and other countries, tool sharing services are popping up that operate a little like a library. Items such as gardening implements, hand and power tools are donated or loaned to the sharing service. These items can then be “checked out” by members who are able to use the item for X amount of time; just like a library book. Often membership in these services is free or at a very low cost. The groups are usually organized by neighbors in a street or a local community group.
If there isn’t a tool sharing arrangement in your community; consider starting up yourself. It’s probably best to research the topic a little as the concept does have some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. For example, you’ll probably want to avoid incorporating tools in your service that are delicate and/or require frequent repair.
There’s a great article on Mother Earth News about setting up a tool sharing program that will help ensure your project has the best chance of success.
Even if setting up or participating in a tool sharing service isn’t really your thing; perhaps you can dig around in your shed and find tools that you rarely use or have multiples of and donate them to a local service.
Neighborhood food sharing
Sharing doesn’t have to stop at tools of course. I’ve heard of neighborhoods where residents who grow their own vegetables share with each other in a very organized way.
One of the challenges of growing your own food is the feast vs. famine scenario – at certain times you’ll have far too much of a certain veggie, and none of another variety.
People in food sharing programs get together and figure out who will be planting what and when – and share the harvest with each other. It’s a great way to cut food waste and ensure a steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables!
If you have someone in the street with chickens, involving them can provide fresh eggs as well. There are a lot of backyard chicken farmers out there who have an egg surplus!
Sharing is not only a great way to lessen your impact on the environment, but can also save you money!