It happens to us all. We suddenly need a drill, a nail gun or something we had no intention of buying. So, we go out and buy one, use it for a few hours and then it’s banished to the attic for months, if not for years. There must be a better way. Wouldn’t it be good if we could share these things? What if there was somewhere where they could be borrowed or temporarily exchanged for something else we needed?
This is how the Library of Things idea was born, now sweeping through the Anglo-Saxon world and beyond. An idea that is as simple as it is brilliant. The latest to be opened by three friends, inspired by a similar venture in Canada, is staffed by 20 volunteers and sits in a warehouse in Crystal Palace, London. Its shelves and online catalogue are packed full of DIY tools, catering fryers, tea urns and waffle irons, and also tents and gazebos, amps and video projectors. In short, everything you might need for that big party, trip or DIY project and then never again.
Whereas buying would mean spending money on something that might never be used again and would take up space forever, renting it for a fee, subscription or by simply leaving a deposit saves money and space. "Why are we doing it? Consumerism isn’t working", they explain on the London library’s website: "incomes & living spaces are squeezed, especially in urban areas. If everyone in the world consumed resources at the rate we do in the UK, we would need 3.5 planets to sustain us...".