The sharing revolution is coming!

On 16th October 2019, 12 Libraries of Things came together for the first ShareFest. Sam Attard reports back on how lending at scale could drastically reduce the impacts of excessive consumer waste.

170 million new electrical items are purchased in the UK each year, and less than a third are recycled. 80% of household items are used less than once per month.

Thanks to a growing movement of item-lending libraries, or ‘Libraries of Things’ (LoTs), thousands of people around the country are already renting useful and joyful items like tents, hedge trimmers, sound systems and sewing machines, rather than buying them.

Share:Frome reports that in one year their lending library saved members £66,800, prevented 92 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and stopped 117 tonnes of raw material going to landfill.

Lent items include DIY and garden tools like drills and lawnmowers. All your camping needs can be met, from blow-up beds to bell tents and inflatable kayaks.

Kitchen gadgets and appliances are also on the menu, and mirror balls, disco lights and smoke machines for events. Other popular items include projectors, pressure washers, wallpaper steamers, dehumidifiers, sanders, tea urns and gazebos.

LoTs can take different forms, from high-street shops housing up to 1000 items, to dedicated spaces within existing community hubs and book libraries. There is even one mobile LoT – a sharing shed on wheels.

The UK’s first LoTs launched in London and Frome inspired by a similar enterprise in Berlin. Since then others have sprung up, inspired by these two, whilst existing Tool Libraries have expanded their offerings beyond tools.

“Collectively, we’ve had over 1000 expressions of interest from communities around the UK wanting to kickstart affordable item rental where they are,” - Rebecca Trevalyan, ShareFest co-organiser.

Repair Cafes

Libraries of Things are often linked to Repair Cafes. For example, in Frome, the monthly repair cafe is run by SHARE:Frome. Other LoTs exist in co-working spaces and remakeries that host repair cafes.

If you have a local Repair Cafe, but no Library of Things why not suggest the idea of setting up a LoT with them?

Where are the 12 libraries of things?

If you live near any of these then do sign up and get involved. Not one near you?

Contact any of the existing LoTs and they’ll help get you on board. ShareFest hopes to become an annual event, open to all those who’d like to be part of the movement

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