You know those little free libraries for kids (croque-livres) you see here and there? My four-year- old son, Salvador, loves them. As soon as he sees one, he wants to open it and look for a new book with pictures he likes. And he enjoys going back to leave a book for someone else.
You have to agree, the concept is very simple, but so ingenious.
I dream of having a community cabinet in my alleyway where I can put tools I’ve bought and used once and that have been lying around in my basement for a few years waiting to be used again.
Why buy tools that we use only once every five years? When you buy a mitre saw, you think it’s going to revolutionize your life. But a rented one works just as well. And there’s no need to let it clutter up the garage and gather dust when it could be useful to other DIY enthusiasts.
Organizations like La Remise in Montreal have hit on a winning formula, renting tools though a system similar to a lending library. You can become a member for $10 a year, which gives you access to several hundred tools that are available through an online catalogue. Others, like La Patente in Quebec City or La Fabrique in Sherbrooke, organize workshops on mechanics, cabinetmaking and electronics, and offer training courses. You can also rent space to work on your projects.
The beauty of these initiatives is that you save money, meet people with the same interests—starting with your neighbours—develop new skills and, most importantly, consume more wisely.
While more waste is being generated every year, sharing allows for better use of our resources. Unfortunately, most companies encourage unbridled consumption by lowering the quality of their products and building in various forms of planned obsolescence.
It’s a far cry from my mother’s Maytag washing machine, which lasted 40 years before giving up the ghost.
Fortunately, there are over 150 sharing solutions in Quebec today and they’re on the rise. People and organizations are launching numerous initiatives in an effort to move away from the throwaway culture: Repair Cafés, where you can learn to fix things with help from expert volunteers, repairathons or restart parties, which focus on learning how to repair electronics, and online communities like Touski s’répare, which provide tips on how to fix just about anything.
If a four-year- old child can understand how a book-sharing box works, surely we can apply this concept to all sorts of other things.