Author: admin

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Why Buy When You Can Borrow?

The ‘Library of Things’ Movement is growing rapidly. The Sharing Depot and Toronto Tool Library recently hosted the 2nd Annual Lending Library Symposium here in Toronto and were joined by over 60 people from around the world involved in setting up these sharing projects, encouraging neighbours to build community and reduce consumption through the sharing of things.

One member of our growing global family is the Share Shed in Totnes (Devon, UK). They’ve kindly written a guest blog post about their project for those interested in learning about other Libraries of Things beyond yours truly here in Toronto!

People are drowning in stuff. Many people have more stuff than they need or use, while others find themselves lacking useful goods that could help improve their lives. So this leads to the question: Why hold on to goods you don’t need when you could be sharing things as a community? Why buy when you can borrow?

The recently launched Share Shed is one community-based response to these questions.

Share Shed- A Library of Things

This is the perfect place for people who want to simplify and have less stuff, and still have access to use what they need! The Share Shed is a "library of things" where instead of books you can check out tools, kitchen appliances, camping equipment, and more.

Posted by Rob Greenfield on Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Share Shed is a library of things based in Totnes (Devon, UK), originally started by the Network of Wellbeing (NOW), where you borrow useful items such as camping, cooking and gardening equipment, tools, house appliances and much more at a nominal cost.

The idea is to encourage people to become more resourceful, wasting less and connecting more. When you consider that, on average, an electric drill is used for only 13 minutes in its entire lifetime, it becomes clear that we could be using and sharing material goods more effectively. Plus, sharing can be a great way to connect with neighbours and others in the local community.

How The Share Shed Got Started

Originally inspired by the Share Frome project, NOW decided to explore the possibility of starting a similar sharing initiative in the town of Totnes. After a number of community consultations and surveys, it was clear the local community was very supportive of the idea, so NOW worked to get the project off the ground.

Thanks to the support of wonderful volunteers, a grant from the Big Lottery, the premises kindly offered by Totnes Town Council, and many donations given by community members, the Share Shed successfully opened its doors in April 2017. During our journey towards the launch, we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm and generosity we’ve experienced, which reinforces even more the importance of reinventing our models of consuming, connecting with each other and with our planet. As well as items and skills, this is a project that shares values of trust, collaboration and care of the Earth.

Network of Wellbeing (NOW)

NOW, the organisation behind the Share Shed, connects and supports those passionate about wellbeing. Wellbeing for NOW means happy people, healthy communities, and a sustainable planet. We believe that people’s happiness depends in part on the health of the communities in which they live and work. This, in turn, depends on the fairness of society as a whole, and the long-term health of the natural world on which we all depend.

NOW supports community actions and projects to support wellbeing, such as the Share Shed as well as regular Community Potlucks; shared meals to bring people together. NOW is building up a collaborative network of people and organisations who share our vision for wellbeing, and regularly share inspiring blogs, videos and events to inspire and connect this growing network.

Find Out More

For more information about the Share Shed, please visit, and connect with the Share Shed on Facebook. If you’re thinking of setting up a library of things, here’s a very helpful ‘how to’ article. To find out more about the Network of Wellbeing’s wider work, you can visit, and follow NOW on Facebook and Twitter. Huge thanks to all who have supported NOW and the Share Shed. Happy sharing, everyone!

The Sharing Depot Blog

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Why You Should Take Your Kids To A Toy Lending Library

When we launched The Sharing Depot last year in Toronto, it was important for us to include a toy section alongside the camping, sports, party supplies and board games.

Why include a toy section? As a board member of the non-profit behind Canada’s first Library of Things and also a parent, I could see the benefits of promoting the sharing of toys instantly. My daughter and I have been visiting the toy section of the Sharing Depot since it opened in 2016, so I’ve had plenty of time to figure out exactly what is so awesome about this concept.


1) Kids Are Better Off With Fewer Toys At Home

“Play is the child’s work.”

This is the famous statement made by renowned childhood educator Maria Montessori who emphasized that it is through play that children develop and learn. Toys are tools that the young brain uses to develop and the types of tools that children interact with shape their understanding of the world around them. This might lead one to the conclusion that giving children endless amounts of these tools provides more opportunities for learning – but the opposite is actually the case.

A recent study conducted by American childhood developmental researchers found that when children (especially those under 5) are surrounded by an excess of toys, they have difficulty concentrating on one thing long enough to experience the deep learning that comes from play. Rather than immersing themselves in one activity, the children are distracted and lose the ability to concentrate. They flit around from toy to toy and then lose interest:

“More is not necessarily better. This is a myth that needs to be extinguished from western suburban culture. Our work shows that having fewer toys is associated with less solitary play and increased sharing. Conversely, too many toys can cause a sense of ‘overload’.” (article)

In another study, two German researchers convinced a Nursery School to remove all toys from the classroom for three months, leaving the children with tables, chairs, a few blankets and their imaginations. The first day without toys caused some confusion in the children, but it wasn’t long before they were creating their own games together, acting out little plays and imagining they were in various scenarios.

At the end of the three month period, they found children involved in the study had better concentration when they worked, integrated more effectively into groups, and had better communication skills than children who had not participated in the study. Some of the parents were so impressed with the positive effect ‘Time Without Toys’ had on their children that they replicated it at home, storing toys in boxes and only bringing them out one at a time to play with.

Using a Toy Library is an excellent solution (and a money saver) to this situation. Rather than purchase all these toys as individual families and store them away from the child until they are ready to play with them, why not store them in a community hub where everyone can visit and borrow the toys as they are needed? Children will not be overwhelmed and distracted by the mountain of toys at home, but will still have access to the tools of play when they need them.

Imagine the shelf space, imagine the savings, imagine the increase in creativity, concentration and communication in your kids if borrowing toys became the norm.

2) Going To The Toy Library Is A Weekly Adventure

We are a few subway stops away from The Sharing Depot, but we make a point of visiting every week. Each week my daughter goes into her room, finds the toy she borrowed the week before and we make the trip to return it and select a new one. She spends a good hour playing with the toys in the toy section and then picks the one she wants to bring home.

The same sense of wonder that appears on her face when we enter a toy store is visible when we enter the Sharing Depot. It is an exciting adventure for her and has become an aspect of our weekly routine that we both look forward to.

3) The Environment Is Better Off With Fewer Toys

The goliath of a toy industry hit $20.36 billion in sales last year. Cheap little brightly coloured plastic toys account for 90% of that market. While these possess the same environmental risk factors as any other plastic item, they tend to have shorter lifespans and many are difficult to recycle because each toy often includes different types of plastics (types one through seven) as well as metals, making them tricky for recycling centres to process. Therefore, even the more expensive plastic toys with longer lifespans will someday end up in a landfill.

Recent research suggests that since the large-scale manufacturing of synthetic materials got underway in the 1950s, humans have generated some 8.2 billion tonnes of plastic (it’s ok if you have to read that sentence again. I had to read it over several times before my brain accepted it). Of that 8.2 billion tonnes (brace yourselves), 6.2 billion tonnes have already entered the waste stream. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that between 2004 and 2015 we produced as much plastic as we did between 1950 and 2004 – meaning that production is exponentially on the rise as demand for cheap goods increases. All the while we are choking our planet’s waterways with a material it cannot digest.

So, here’s a thought: why not cut demand off where it starts – with the consumer? When you make the decision to borrow toys from a Library of Things, you are reducing your impact on the environment by saying no to the mass individual consumption of cheap plastics. You can use the activity of borrowing from the Toy Library as an opportunity to discuss these issues with your children and break the wasteful practices of consumption with the upcoming generation. Teach them to have a different relationship to toys than we had and use that relationship as a launching pad to discuss bigger picture environmental issues.

If you don’t have a Toy Library in your area, you can look into starting one (we give free consultations on our process!) and lobby your city to recognize the importance of these projects. Once Toy Libraries are properly funded, they can be conveniently set up in each neighbourhood and can be stocked with durable, high-quality toys (perhaps with an emphasis on toys made from environmentally friendly materials).

4) You Will Save Money

Among my daughter’s favourite toys at the Sharing Depot are the Plasma Cars, the pony castle, this toy stroller and the Elefun Game. We have borrowed each of these items several times and each time she is happy to return them the next week without fuss (because by then she’s done with them). A few weeks later her interest in them is back and we borrow them again.

I have never had to spend money on these toys (the plasma car alone can cost upwards of $90). Borrowing these items rather than buying means I can spend money on experiences for my daughter instead – such as an annual pass to the Science Centre, a trip to a water park or a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium. Accessing rather than owning things makes sense financially and you will be emphasizing the value of experiences over material possessions.

5) Try Before You Buy

About a month ago I purchased a second hand balance bike from a community parent group I belong to. I thought for sure my daughter would be all over this as she had not shown much interest in a tricycle and had seen one of her little friends riding one.

NOPE. I brought it home and she was more excited about the bell on the handle bars than the bike itself. And then she decided her tricycle was the way to go after all.

Lesson learned. This is an item I would have benefited from borrowing from a Library of Things first to see if my daughter was interested enough in having the balance bike as her go-to ride-around-the-neighbourhood device. But that’s OK, I’ll donate the balance bike to the Sharing Depot so that others can have the opportunity to try it – and my daughter can borrow it if she suddenly feels compelled to cruise sans pedals. Let us know if there are toys your child is interested in trying that we should add to the inventory!

6) Toy Libraries Are An Excellent Excuse To Declutter

Beyond the important psychological and environmental benefits of owning fewer toys, for those of you looking to live a more minimalist lifestyle (and pass that minimalist lifestyle onto your children), supporting your local Toy Library is a great way to maintain a clutter-free home. There are a myriad of blogs out there espousing the benefits of keeping a more spacious living environment – everything from simply being able to find things when they are needed to life-altering epiphanies have been documented by people on their minimalist journeys.

Consider decluttering the toys in your house and donating the un-needed items to your local Library of Things. Your child – and all the other children in your neighbourhood – will still have access to these playthings, but you will be living in a less cluttered space. And so will your child.

7) Toy Libraries Are Community Builders

Speaking of the other kids in your neighbourhood – just as the Toy Library can be used to start a conversation with your children about environmental concerns, it is also an opportunity to talk about inequality.

Inequality in our communities is on the rise and this is a huge problem. When you have a culture that operates by promoting the infinite consumption of things at the cost of all else, there is a weakening of community life. Status anxiety and the fear of fitting in drives people to consume more material possessions, while engagement in community life goes down.

When you borrow from a Library of Things, you are saying yes to everyone else in your community having access to the same things as you do. If our cities could properly fund these projects so that they are as accessible to people as book libraries, there is a chance that the Library of Things model could take some of this status anxiety away.

When you borrow toys, take time to talk to your kids about the fact that they are sharing these toys with the other kids in their neighbourhood and the benefits of that. Children are highly empathetic and they need to know that in the future, building a more equal society is essential to life on this planet. What better way to get them thinking about this than connecting them to their peers through the sharing of toys?

Imagine if Libraries of Things became as readily accessible as book libraries, where every week you visit to select toys, camping gear, board games, sports equipment or party supplies and return what you took out the week before? Imagine if we brought our children up this way so that borrowing stuff rather than buying was the norm? Imagine the shelf space, imagine the savings, imagine the community connections, imagine a cleaner planet.

This is about experience, without the price tag or the clutter. Support us by becoming a member or making a donation. If you are interested in learning how to set up your own Library of Things, get in touch with us for a free Skype consultation where we’ll tell you all about how we did it!

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

The Sharing Depot Blog

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10 Takeaways From This Year’s Lending Library Symposium

It was a grand meeting of the Tooligans this past weekend, as those involved in the Alternative Library Movement descended on Toronto from around the world to take part in the 2nd Annual Lending Library Symposium (hosted by the Toronto Tool Library and Sharing Depot, generously supported by the City of Toronto). Knowledge was shared, hugs were given and many games borrowed from the Sharing Depot were played (including a match of tug-o-war: Canada VS Everybody. Everybody schooled us).

We are so grateful to be part of such a far-reaching, dedicated community of people from around the globe who are working to make the world a more sustainable, accessible place. Here are some of the most inspiring takeaways from the conference, compiled from statements of those involved.


1) This is not about one specific library

Lorenzo, who will soon be launching his own Tool Library, Ferroteca, put it excellently: this is not about a specific tool library. This is about a big f*cking movement! For real. Throughout the weekend, everyone felt the exciting sense of being part of something larger than the individual. For a movement that is relatively new and growing, getting that sense of being a part of a larger community is extremely important to maintain momentum and motivation.


2) We’re all on the same page

Chris from Edinburgh Tool Library pointed out that it felt good to not have to explain what a tool library is – everyone at the symposium was already on the same page. This resulted in elevated conversations because we could skip the basics. The strategies being discussed were more nuanced and everyone brought their all-star game. It was a weekend full of slam dunks and home runs, as Station North Tool Library put it.


3) The newcomers are not alone

Those who are just beginning their journey to open a tool library or library of things were pleasantly surprised that there are so many others who are in the same boat as them, leaving them feeling not so alone in the endeavour to launch their project. Those who are new to the movement also felt pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and open minded everyone at the conference was, noting that it was really easy to connect and make friends. “It think I love you guys already” was how Lorenzo put it at the end of a full day of panel discussions and workshops on Saturday. WE LOVE YOU TOO!!!


4)  United in the problems we face

Station North Tool Library noted how nice it was to hear that the challenges they face in operating their tool library are the same as everyone else. Launching, scaling and maintaining these alternative libraries is not a walk in the park – there are many bumpy roads, issues to overcome and tears to cry along the way. It is somehow comforting to know that we are all in this together and the challenges we face are shared by a community. We’re all stumbling in the dark *SOLIDARITY*


5)  Inspired by the City of Toronto’s involvement

Several folks noted over the weekend that they were extremely impressed by the acknowledgement we have had from the City of Toronto, who have included us in their long-term zero waste management strategy and also provided funding to hold the 2nd Annual Lending Library Symposium this year. In supporting these community sharing projects, the City of Toronto is revealing its forward-thinking nature and is stepping in the direction of becoming a leader in the shareable city movement. In order to address growing issues of inequality and environmental degradation, cities HAVE to become willing to adopt and support those pushing for sharing initiatives.

Good on ya, Toronto.


6) The myriad of benefits that Lending Libraries provide

Piper of Station North Tool Library noted that it was good to be reminded of some bigger-picture issues that lending libraries address – such as climate change and environmental sustainability. The emphasis for them in Baltimore is really serving a community of people who are financially unable to access tools. While that is certainly part of our story here in Toronto (our first location launched in Parkdale for that very reason) we have a tendency to come down hard on the environmental benefits of sharing stuff, allowing people to cut back on individual mass consumption.

So it was really great all around to be reminded that there are multiple stories, multiple points of benefits that lending libraries plug their communities into.


7) Community building opportunity

The folks from MyTurn (the innovative team who provide the software for alternative libraries to loan and track inventory items ) noted that the symposium – and the opportunity to gather together in person – was just such a fantastic opportunity to connect and learn from one another. The symposium provided a sense of inspiration and renewed passion. Couldn’t agree more.


8) We need a formula to assess the Environmental Impacts of lending libraries

Chris from Edinburgh Tool Library gave an important presentation on Saturday about the need be able to assess and track the environmental impacts of sharing stuff via lending libraries. When a community of people are borrowing and using the same drill from a tool library, how much lighter on the planet is that action as opposed to all those people going out to purchase their own drill? When tools break down and we work at fixing them to keep them out of the landfill, exactly how green is that action? How do we measure such things? Considering a system like this has simply never been developed, Chris is currently trailblazing the way forward.

We are SUPER looking forward to tracking his progress in this area.


9) Tool Library Exchange Program

This might be our favourite takeaway from the entire weekend. Piper of Station North Tool Library noted that one of their teammates went up to stay with HNL Tool Library while they were first launching to provide advice and share their experience with opening a tool library. This is a most awesome idea. It would be incredibly beneficial if we could find a way to send each other’s senior teammates out to new libraries to help get them set up and running smoothly. How this would be funded and implemented on a big scale remains to be worked out – perhaps a topic to be covered at the next symposium?


10)  The connection to the Earth

Doorae from HNL Tool Library emphasized that it was a really beautiful thing to be amongst people who were all so passionate about aligning the work they do in this life with the needs of the planet. Having respect for nature and working to clean up the destruction wrought by a Capitalist model that forces us to infinitely consume finite planetary resources in the name of the almighty dollar is key to what all of are working towards.


THANK YOU to  everyone who joined us this year! Sometimes it is heavy work to be swimming against the stream. But honestly, this gathering has really blow us out of the water – a better, more sustainable world IS possible. And we are building it – with shared tools! We look forward to finding out where next year’s symposium will be and meeting up with all of you again.

Until then, share on you crazy Tooligans!

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto for the last three years. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

The Sharing Depot Blog





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How To Introduce Kids To Minimalism Without Pushing It On Them

At this particular historical moment, we are perhaps more hyper aware than ever of the detrimental effects that mass individual consumption is having on our planet. The economic system as it stands now – infinite consumerism forever to increase profit and GDP – is absolutely not sustainable on a planet that demands a certain level of stability and time to regenerate natural resources. It might also be good if we weren’t choking the Earth with plastics, carbon emissions and other pollutants.

So, what do we do to begin reversing the addictive cycle of over consumption? One place to start is with the next generation whom we are currently raising. It turns out that the $20 billion toy industry isn’t exactly helping our environment, and research is beginning to suggest that material acquisition of things is actually detrimental to happiness anyway. It looks like it might be time to reconsider the mountain of toys under the Christmas tree for little Jimmy and that toy trunk bursting at the seams in Sally’s room.

Cue Minimalism. This is a lifestyle philosophy that has taken the adult world by storm in the last few years: the Minimalism Documentary was tellingly trending all over the Internet during the Holidays last year and Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up became a #1 bestseller in 2014. Even IKEA – the Walt Disney World of cheap home furnishings and nicknacks – has acknowledged that we have reached ‘peak stuff’ in the West. It looks like people might finally be ready to trade in the endless pursuit of material possessions for a life with more meaning and less stuff. As we clean out our basements and closets, close down our storage units and downsize, it becomes apparent that maybe somewhere along the line we got a little carried away with the purchasing of all the things.

Imagine if rather than being told all our lives to COLLECT THEM ALL, we had been raised to think more carefully about our relationship with stuff? What if we tried to impart some of this knowledge on our children early so they can get a head start and not fall into the pit trap that is cyclical consumption?

While we can’t necessarily stop corporations from stalking our children through advertising, perhaps we can set them up to choose differently by living differently ourselves. This is not to say that we can’t purchase toys for our children to cherish at home some of the time – after all, pushing philosophies on children often results in resentment and rebellion anyway.

Here are some clever options for parents looking to slip a little minimalism into their child’s daily living:

1) Borrow, Don’t Buy

My daughter has been going to the Sharing Depot to borrow toys since it launched last year and it didn’t take her long to catch on. When I tell her now that we’re going to the toy library, she immediately retrieves what we borrowed the week before to return it. Some of her favourite items to borrow include the Plasma Car, the Pony Castle where the ponies run down the ramps on their own and Elefun.

Scarlett at the Sharing Depot

If you are lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood that includes a Library of Things like the Sharing Depot, or any of the other Toy Libraries that exist across Canada, get a membership and start borrowing as soon as possible. The experience of going into a space, selecting a toy, bringing it home to play with and bringing it back the next week is extremely good practice for children. They become accustomed to the idea that material possessions do not necessarily have to be tied to one’s personal sense of self – they are tools that facilitate the experience of play rather than possessions that are ‘mine.’

Recent research has revealed that having access to too many toys at once can actually overwhelm young children, causing them to play less while inhibiting learning:

“Our studies show that giving children too many toys or toys of the wrong types can actually be doing them harm. They get overwhelmed and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it.” (source)

Having fewer toys around also enhances creativity and self-directed learning. So borrowing from a library of things is a good way to keep fewer toys around your living space while still providing them with access to play things.

2) Participate Regularly In Swaps

Another way to help children learn to let go and declutter is by bringing them to swaps. I have been bringing my daughter to swaps to get toys and clothing since she was born. I explain to her that we bring items we no longer need or use to give to someone else who needs them. And in return, we get to take home things we need. Now at three years old, she is beginning to understand the concept and selects toys on her own to exchange.

3) Use BUNZ Trading Zone & Facebook Buy/Sell Groups

When my daughter expresses an interest in something she has seen another child using or sees something in a store window she really wants, I either look it up on BUNZ trading zone (the app includes a search bar where you can search for specific items) or I ask parents in one of the gazillion buy/sell groups that exist on Facebook if anyone has the item.

She recently took a shine to a balance bike that one of her friends has. I asked in a local parenting group if anyone had one they were looking to part with and within the hour, we picked up a balance bike from a neighbour down the street from us. When she decided she really wanted some My Little Ponies to play with, I traded two avocados for a small set through BUNZ.

The experience of visiting someone’s house or meeting someone at a coffee shop to pick up an item makes the experience much more special and – I have a hunch – easier in the future to let go of an item. It builds an understanding that things exist in a flow, they move from one person to the next as they are needed. It also introduces an element of delayed gratification, an experience we have less and less of in a world of instantaneous everything. Sometimes, waiting for things is good practice.

4) Minimize Compulsive Purchases

In line with trading for things or purchasing something second hand, don’t give in to impulse purchases. If your child sees something in a store that they REALLY want and start throwing a fit when you say no, do. not. give. in. Chances are, your child will forget about it not too long after exiting the store anyway. And if they continue to talk about something, perhaps this is a sign that it really is something they feel they need to experience so look it up on BUNZ or on a second hand platform!

5) Incorporate Upcycling Into Your Arts & Craft Projects

When you sit down to get creative with your children, incorporate found objects into projects as much as possible to get youngsters thinking about how they can re-purpose stuff that is already in circulation. This is the thinking behind the remarkable project Skeleton Sea, in which instructors run beach clean-ups with kids and then create works of art with all the trash they collect. The Toronto Tool Library runs Maker Education programs for Youth that also incorporate found items into their workshops.

6) Take Them To A Repair Cafe

The Repair Cafe movement is taking off across the globe and we are extremely lucky in Toronto to have a thriving Repair Cafe. When an item breaks, don’t throw it away! Hang on to it and bring it to the next repair event. Expert volunteers will fix your item for free (donations welcome!) and will teach you how they did it. This is a great experience for youngsters as it not only inspires them to discover how things work, but also teaches them that throwing something away and buying it new should never be the first option.

Repair Cafe Toronto hosting a ‘take-apart-table’ at Evergreen Brick Works, inspiring children to learn how electronics are put together!

7) Minimize Exposure To Advertising

This is easier said than done of course. Screens are now ubiquitous in our society and it’s certainly NOT possible to keep your children from ever being exposed to marketing materials. But there are a few things you can do. Rather than watching shows on a television (do people even own those anymore?!) or on Youtube where the advertisements are relentless and excessive, borrow DVDs of TV shows from your local library or use streaming platforms like Netflix. This will eliminate exposure to advertisements at home.

8) Maximize Exposure To Nature

Making an authentic connection with nature can provide kids with a world away from the excess and noise of our consumer culture.

For folks who live in big cities, it can be challenging to provide children with access to nature on a regular basis and yet – it’s so important for young people. Research is beginning to reveal scientific evidence for the ancient practice of eco-therapy. Putting yourself in a natural setting will lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. Further to the point, researchers are beginning to think there may be a connection between childhood mental and physical health problems and a lack of time spent in nature. Perhaps this is part of the reason that rates of mental illness in children are on the rise.

While those of us in cities may not be able to ditch the urban sprawl for sun-dappled forests and wide open fields, there are still ways we can provide children with a dose of nature on a regular basis. Toronto organizations such as

are great places to start.

9) Keep Gift-Giving Under Control

Keep Holiday and birthday gift-giving to a minimum. Perhaps decide which dates you will celebrate with gifts and which you will exclude: maybe you want gift-giving to be incorporated at Christmas but want to opt-out of Easter. Giving thoughtful, quality gifts during special occasions rather than an abundance of cheap things just for the sake of giving a gift will make the experience vastly more meaningful.

10) Tell Kids The Truth

We have a tendency to want to shelter our children from the harsh realities of the world. But kids are stronger and more intuitive than we think. Their intuition and open-minded creativity also make them extremely good problem-solvers.

So go ahead – tell them the truth. Roll it out in an age-appropriate fashion. Tell them that plastics are choking our oceans and ocean acidification caused by warming waters due to climate change is threatening to kill all our coral reefs. Tell them that the mass consumption of toys is part of this problem and the vast majority of them are made by people in factories overseas who are not properly compensated. Tell them that 8 human beings – that’s right, EIGHT – have accumulated and are holding onto HALF of the money on the planet while so many people struggle to get by, some of them without the basic necessities of life.

This is the world our young people will be inheriting. This is the world previous generations have built and we are currently trying to dismantle. We may as well put our young people in a position of knowledge and support them in putting in place the necessary pillars of change.

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto for the last three years. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

The Sharing Depot Blog

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May Is Membership Month!

For the whole month of May, with the purchase of a membership to the Sharing Depot OR the Toronto Tool Library we’re giving away one month FREE to:

  • New Members
  • Members who bring in a New Member

Year-long Memberships to the Sharing Depot start at $50/year and grant you access to:

Camping Equipment

Children’s Toys

Board Games

Party Supplies

Sporting Gear

BECOME A MEMBER today and start saving by borrowing things you only need occasionally rather than buying to own! If you purchase your membership online, when you come in to borrow an item or pick up your membership card just tell the librarian on duty and they will add the free month to your account!


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15 Things Only Hardcore Zero Wasters Understand

The Zero Wasters. A relatively small – but quickly growing – subset of our population. They might be hard to pick out from the crowd at first, but you can spot them if you look carefully enough. They go about their lives just like anyone else: they get take out, they order coffees to go, you can find them in grocery stores. The one thing that sets them apart? They’re saying no to disposable culture – one reusable container at a time.

How do you know if you’re one of them? If you can relate to any of these points below, this is your tribe. Welcome to the zero waste movement!

1) You were unreasonably excited when Bulk Barn announced that their reusable container pilot program was now a store-wide company policy!

Hallelujah, you can read about it here. Find a list of stores carrying bulk and zero waste products with this Zero Waste Guide for Toronto.


2) You carry your zero waste weapons of choice on you at all times

It looks like a lot, but it really packs down to fit in my tote bag. You can see how it all works by visiting me on Instagram.


3) You no longer need to go to the gym because you run all over the city to get your package-free products

Seriously why don’t we have a zero waste grocery store in Toronto yet?! (but apparently we’re getting one soon so YAAAAAS!)


4) You feel irrationally proud of yourself for refusing plastic bags at the grocery store

“No thanks, I don’t do the whole plastic thing.”


5) Alternatively, you feel like an utter failure when you forget to bring a reusable bag

“It’s OK, I’ll just juggle all the way home.”


6) You take selfies with your reusable coffee cup

Duck lips are so last year.


7) You confuse cashiers by asking them strange questions like, ‘Does your receipt printing machine have the option to NOT print receipts?’

I actually once had a cashier get mad at me for asking about the machine not printing out receipts. When I explained to her that I’m trying to go zero waste, she sarcastically looked at me and said GOOD LUCK. Yikes. But seriously, receipts are a problem. And then I went to Karma Coop where they asked if I wanted a receipt, I got to say no and I was in heaven.


8) When you need something, your first thought is never to purchase something new in a store

You’re all about BUNZ Trading Zone, Facebook Buy/Sell Groups, borrowing items from Libraries of Things and other sustainable means of getting your hands on things that don’t involve mass individual consumption (because you know that infinite growth on a finite planet is absurd and impossible).


9) When you go to a party and there’s nothing but single-use plates, cups and cutlery…

I guess I’ll just starve (or eat with my hands).


10) You give unsolicited advice to people who still choose to use disposable items like water bottles, plastic bags, straws, Keurig machines, etc.

Do you even realize how much plastic is floating around in our oceans right now?!


11) You post photos of mason jars on your Instagram and they get a lot of likes

Because the Zero Waste Community really likes looking at photos of mason jars – empty or full, both are equally as beautiful. This one is from @myzerowastelifeintoronto *Heart Eyes Emoji*


12) When you go into a store and it’s just miles and aisles and miles of heavily packaged products, you’re all like:

“I think I’m going to be sick.”


13) When you go to a restaurant and they bring you a plastic straw after you told them not to:

WTF. Do you even realize how bad plastic straws suck?


14) When you hear the phrase ‘tip of the iceberg,’ this is the mental image you get:

You have no idea.


15) You tell everyone to remove themselves from advertising lists to stop receiving junk mail

Add your name to the CMA Do Not Mail Service list right now. Do it for the trees.


“But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”


Subscribe to our newsletter (which is through our sister site, Toronto Tool Library) to receive updates on the Zero Waste Movement in Toronto, as well as fun tips and blogs on how to go zero waste.

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto for the last three years. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

The Sharing Depot Blog

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How To Have A Zero Waste Picnic On National Picnic Day

Yesterday on Earth Day, some of our team put together a Zero Waste Picnic for us to share with you on National Picnic Day! Here’s how to go on a delightful picnic with friends, sans waste:

1) Borrow A Picnic Basket

We are all well aware at this point of the negative impacts that the mass over consumption of stuff is having on the planet – stuff that mostly sits in storage, closets and basements not even being used most of the time. A Picnic Basket is one of those items that you really just don’t need to own. So if you are trying to make your picnic truly zero waste, borrow a Picnic Basket from you local Library of Things. If you don’t have a Library of Things yet near you, download the app Peerby to see if your neighbour has one up for lending!

Our picnic basket comes with two blankets (one soft and one to put under to avoid getting wet), two wine glasses and a set of reusable cups.

2) Gather Your Zero Waste Ingredients

Here’s where it gets a little tricky – depending on your diet and food preferences, you will likely have to hit up several places to get all the ingredients you need to make your meal zero waste. There are rumours that Toronto will be getting a Zero Waste Grocery Store this fall (one stop zero waste shopping, can you imagine!?), but for now – we run all over the city. So it takes some planning. For this trip we found:

  • Bread at Cobs on the Danforth and put it directly into a cloth bread bag
  • Eggs from a farmer just outside the city (but you can get loose eggs and put them in your own container from Karma Food Coop)
  • Fruit and veggies from a fruit/veggie stand on the Danforth, placed into cloth bags
  • Nuts that we created a trail mix with from Bulk Barn, which now allows you to bring your own reusable containers
  • Chick Peas, purchased from Bulk Barn in our own reusable container
  • Homemade mayonnaise using ingredients purchased from Karma Coop in bulk, in our own containers

Check out this Zero Waste Guide for more ideas on where to find zero waste products in Toronto.

3) Reusable Containers

Now that you’ve got your exercise for the week running all over the city collecting the ingredients and you’ve successfully created your picnic meal, put all that good stuff into reusable containers and place the reusable containers in the picnic basket.

4) Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

A good way to make sure you don’t end up needing disposable napkins or cutlery while you’re out is to prepare in advance – make sure you have everything you’re going to need. We brought reusable napkins, some stainless steel straws, chop sticks and our own cutlery.

5) Head To A Park

Find a park that is accessible via public transit, walking or riding your bicycle so that you don’t need to take a car. If you are riding a bicycle, make sure you can secure the picnic basket comfortably on your bike.

6) Enjoy Your Picnic!

Chill out in the park on a sunny afternoon, snacking and enjoying the company of good friends (and don’t worry about feeling a little smug about the fact that you are not generating any waste – you worked hard for this).

The Picnic Basket doubles as a little table!

7) Return The Picnic Basket

Here’s the best part – you get to return the Picnic Basket! No need to keep this thing that you only use occasionally in your own space when you can put it back in a community hub so that others can use it while you are not.

Become a member of The Sharing Depot today and start borrowing!

This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto for the last three years. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

The Sharing Depot Blog

Posted on / by admin / in Blog

ZERO WASTE SUNDAY – Volunteers Needed!

Love swapping? Want to help out this weekend?

The Toronto Tool Library & Sharing Depot team are excited to be co-hosting a Books, Media and Art Swap this Sunday as part of An Honest Farewell: A four-day city festival honouring our beloved bargain basement, Honest Ed’s! This is the farewell party for Toronto’s iconic cultural institution and the swap will be part of Zero Waste Sunday – a swap, trade & repair zone!

We are currently looking for volunteers to help with the swap, 3 hour shifts are available and all volunteers get 5 free tickets to spend at the swap. Contact Ryan at for more details.

This is your last chance to see Honest Ed’s before it becomes a memory! This festival will also mark the official launch of Toronto for Everyone, a new initiative by the Centre for Social Innovation that invites you to co-create an inclusive and collaborative city together.

See you there!

Join the Facebook Event Page for news & updates!

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7 Things We Probably Shouldn’t Own – But Do

Look around your living space. And I mean really go on a tour and survey all the stuff you own. How much of it do you use on a daily basis? How much of it do you use occasionally, say once a month? Once or twice a year? Every couple of years? Does it make you happy?

Chances are, there are many things in our homes that could be borrowed from a local Sharing Centre and used by community members only when they need them. Not only is this easier on your wallet and your living space, it’s also better for the planet.

Here’s a list of some items we think are best borrowed, not bought:


1) Camping Gear


Thousand star Hotel

Unless you are living in your tent for extended periods of time, you likely don’t need to own all your camping gear. The Sharing Depot will stock an array of such pricey equipment, from tents and sleeping bags to cookware and portable stoves.


2) Sports Equipment 


This is a photo of a variety of balls and sporting equipment isolated on a white background.

Sports are seasonal and unless you are playing them professionally, likely you’re not on the tennis court or the soccer field 24/7. Also, sports equipment is expensive – imagine all the people who cannot afford to own their own gear who will now have access to it through a library of things?


3) Board Games


Board games are back in a big way, but do we need them around when we aren’t hosting game nights in our living rooms? The Sharing Depot will not only stock plenty of games, there will also be free game nights where people can come together to play!


4) Toys



Obviously kids need some toys in the home – the favourites, the well played with. But plenty of times we purchase toys for our children who then play with them for a couple of days never to look at them again especially when they are really young. A toy library would be perfect for this situation – parents take out toys for several days – say a stacking ring, a shapes sorter, a plasma car, etc. – and bring them back when their child is finished with it.


5) Party Supplies


Record Spinning on Turn Table

You’re throwing a party – you need decorations, extra glasses and chairs, a chocolate fondu set, maybe even costumes. Probably a record player with speakers and a diverse collection of records would be an amazing addition as well. Rather than purchase these things you are maybe going to need once, why not borrow them from a library?


6) Musical Instruments



The Toronto Public Library already has this covered, but maybe we could stock a few instruments if people were really into this idea.


7) Camera Equipment



This would be an expensive venture and likely out of our budget for the current Library of Things in Toronto – but down the road it would just be so awesome to have a library of camera equipment because that stuff is just SO expensive and technology updates so quickly.

Become a member of The Sharing Depot today and start borrowing!

The Sharing Depot Blog

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Everything You Need To Make Your Party SLAY

Research shows that people are investing less in material possessions and more in experiences they can enjoy with each other – which is a good thing considering experiences make us way more happy than stuff does.

Become a member of The Sharing Depot today, throw a wicked party for just $50/year!

1) A Disco Ball – make your party sparkle. We’re all about the sparkle.


2) Magnasonic Portable Projector – want to make your own outdoor movie-watching experience? NOW YOU CAN, with this incredibly tiny portable projector that is way more powerful than it looks. You can project movies directly from your smart phone, tablet or computer. Hang a white sheet, use a wall or your camper van! This little projector is worth about $279 US, but you can borrow it from The Sharing Depot for the cost of a $50 a year membership fee.


3) Folding Chairs – maybe you want your outdoor movie experience to be all classy like. You can totally do that with some (or all!) of our 50 folding chairs.


4) Portable Mixed-Drinks Kit – comes with tongs, bottle opener, two picnic-sized tumblers and “The Standard Bartenders Guide” by Patrick Gavin Duffy. Cute bartender dog not included.


5) Utterly Outrageous Drinking Game – infinite drinking games with this set that includes 25 games, 1 pack of playing cards, 1 pack of forfeit cards, pad and pencil, 5 dice, ping-pong ball, 4 straws, 1 ribbon and full instructions. Have fun.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 11.45.24 AM

6) A Chocolate Fountain – because all fruit should be covered in chocolatey goodness. Maybe you can try re-creating your favourite nightmare-inducing scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while you’re at it.


7) 1950s Style Kettle Popcorn Popper – pop all the popcorn your guests can eat with this beautiful 1950s style popcorn making machine! Includes popper, kettle, kernel measuring cup, oil measuring spoon and instructions.


8) A Portable Record Player – because you should get in on that vinyl revival. We also have a selection of over 300 records for you to borrow with it! Feline DJ not included.


10) Blue & White Decorative Lights – what party is complete without fancy little lights? Try putting them in glass jars for a cool effect. You are so trendy.


11) A Bubble Machine – that’s right, you could be this guy. Each bottle of bubbly liquid gets you 2.5 hours of CONTINUOUS BUBBLES.


The Sharing Depot is Canada’s first ‘library of things.’ We share camping gear, sports equipment, children’s toys, party supplies and games with our community. Become a member today and start sharing!

The Sharing Depot Blog