Lending is the New Spending

by | Jan 29, 2024

Purchasing a new home entails a considerable financial commitment. In addition to the price of the home, there is a myriad of additional expenses, encompassing closing costs, lawyer’s fees, setting up utilities, furniture, and hiring movers. Often overlooked, however, is the cost of various miscellaneous items essential for maintaining a smoothly running household. This applies whether you own your home or you rent. These items range from pressure washers, drills, saws, shovels, and rakes to plumbing and electrical tools, drywall tools, shop vacs, sewing machines, cooking appliances, and more. Many of these household items end up seldom used, necessitating both a financial investment and adequate storage space in your home or garage a luxury not everyone possesses.

How often have you found yourself in the midst of a project – whether it’s a repair, a DIY endeavor, or a baking venture – only to realize you’re missing a crucial tool? The immediate response is typically a trip to the hardware store or shop to acquire the necessary item. After completing your project, the challenge shifts to finding storage space in your already cluttered shed for the new addition, only for it to be forgotten and gather dust over the years. Eventually, you decide to declutter, donating the unused tool. Yet, when you finally carve out time for that new project, you uncover the cruel irony: the exact tool you just parted with is now indispensable once again. Unfortunately, it’s too late; it’s gone.

Many of us can relate to the challenge of dealing with excess possessions, a result of the overconsumption promoted by modern society. Growing up in the 1980s, I, like many others, was instilled with the principles of the “Three R’s” by teachers and the education system: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. However, the focus seemed to lean heavily towards the last “R” – recycling. We were educated from a young age on sorting our trash, diligently placing glass, cardboard, and tin cans into the recycling bin, feeling a sense of accomplishment. It was only later in life that the harsh reality unfolded: a mere 10% of what we conscientiously added to the recycling bin throughout our lives actually ended up being recycled. This revelation was truly eye-opening for me, prompting reflection on how such vital information eluded us for so long.

The practicalities of “Reduce” and “Reuse” often take a back seat to the convenience of a consume-and-throw-away culture. These alternatives are generally not as quick or convenient. Hence, the Guelph Tool Library, an innovative resource that not only promotes the sharing and borrowing of tools but also fosters a culture of reducing and reusing (and repairing). It highlights that sustainability can be convenient and accessible, providing a valuable lesson that I wish had been emphasized more in my education in the 80’s as well as my children’s today.

The Guelph Tool Library (GTL) does not only offer tools but also a diverse range of items, catering to various needs and interests. Among the assortment, you can find kitchen essentials like slow cookers, mixers, electric food slicers, and waffle makers. For household maintenance, there are vacuums and carpet cleaners. If you’re into entertainment, there are audio-visual items tailored for musicians and artists. Adventurers can explore options like bicycle racks, while campers can benefit from coolers and tents. I most recently rented party lights for my daughter’s 8th birthday dance party. They were a big hit! The extensive selection at GTL ensures that members have access to a wide array of tools and items for different purposes, promoting both practicality and sustainability in resource utilization.

GTL extends beyond just providing rental services; it encompasses a broader spectrum of initiatives contributing to sustainability and community engagement. One such initiative is Freehub, an organization affiliated with GTL that I volunteer for. We educate individuals on bicycle repair. This empowers people to enhance their skills and maintain their bicycles, fostering self-sufficiency and reducing the need for constant replacements.

Under the GTL umbrella, there’s also the Circular Store, functioning as a thrift store and mini recycling center. It plays a vital role in handling items that might not be recyclable through conventional city-run recycling centers. The Circular Store collects items like coffee bags, empty toothpaste tubes, old toothbrushes, razors, and empty beauty product containers. These items are then distributed to facilities capable of recycling them appropriately, promoting a circular and environmentally conscious approach.

Additionally, GTL hosts the Repair Café, a recycling event held every two months at different locations. Here, skilled “fixers” gather to assist individuals in repairing broken items such as appliances and clothing. This initiative not only promotes sustainability by extending the lifespan of items but also builds a sense of community through shared knowledge and collaboration. GTL’s multifaceted approach reflects a commitment to fostering a more sustainable and interconnected community.

Joining GTL, either as a member or volunteer (with the added perk of a free membership), comes with invaluable benefits. One significant advantage is the ability to save space in your home, yielding a dual benefit. Firstly, it grants you the freedom to choose a home that aligns better with your interests, aesthetics, and preferred neighbourhood, without being burdened by concerns about excess garage, shed or closet space. This flexibility enhances your overall house hunting experience.

Furthermore, the space-saving aspect of borrowing rather than owning contributes to the mental health benefits associated with adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. A clutter-free home can have a positive impact on mental well-being, reducing stress and promoting a sense of order and simplicity. By embracing the sharing economy model offered by GTL, members not only gain access to a diverse array of tools and items but also unlock the potential for a more streamlined and fulfilling living experience.

Perhaps one of the most practical benefits, especially during challenging financial times, is the cost-saving aspect. Renting household items instead of purchasing them provides a budget-friendly alternative. In a world where every penny saved counts, adopting a lending-oriented approach can contribute significantly to financial goals, whether it’s saving for a home, a new purchase, or retirement. By embracing the concept of “lending is the new spending”, individuals can streamline their lives, reduce unnecessary expenses, and focus on their financial priorities.

Guelph is fortunate to have such an organization and dedicated volunteers driving it, making sustainable living accessible and impactful for the community.

Please find all the awesomeness that is GTL here: Guelph Tool Library

This is a subject close to my heart and a passion of mine. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or if you want to learn more.

Mike