The Sharing Depot, Canada’s first “library of stuff”

Folks behind Tool Library are crowd-funding for a new community hub to share sports equipment, party supplies, kids toys and games. And they need your help.


Some questions in life require a lot of soul searching. But “Should I buy a punch bowl for my party or a dry bag for my annual camping trip?” shouldn’t be among them. And they won’t be once the Sharing Depot gets up and running.  

The Institute for a Resource-Based Economy (IRBE), the non-profit behind the Toronto Tool Library, is raring to ratchet up the city’s sharing economy with “Canada’s first library of things.”

Three years, four locations and 25,000 tool loans later, the group surveyed their members to come up with an inventory of other items that most of us would be better off sharing than buying. Stuff like camping and sports equipment, house party supplies, kids toys and games topped the list. And they’ve been crowdfunding for the past month to raise $30,000 to rent and renovate a new space. The fundraising campaign ends March 22.

Like the Tool Library, the Sharing Depot is banking on setting up a physical space where people can connect with like-minded community members to spread the sharing – and maybe host game nights and swapping parties.

Why a Sharing Depot? A better question might be why stop at tools? Beyond getting rid of clutter taking up space in our homes – and saving the debt-saddled majority some cash by offering annual memberships from $25-$100 – the sharing economy is one of the most direct ways of slashing consumption and getting us closer to a zero-waste economy. And the planet is spared the impacts of yet another fondue set that inevitably ends up in landfill after a decade of gathering dust at the back of a cupboard. 

Toronto Environmental Alliance’s recent report Zero Waste Toronto flagged community-based waste strategies as a critical way to reduce waste while building community.  

Ultimately, the Sharing Depot is a new-school way of borrowing a tent, frisbee or karaoke machine from our neighbours. No fancy app or slick online sharing site here.

As the Sharing Depot’s Indigogo campaign puts it, “Rather than mining virgin raw materials, we must mine the enormous assets that we have lying around our own homes and cities.” In the 21st century, waste “should be designed out of the system altogether.” 

The Sharing Depot’s slated to be the first of its kind in Canada, but it it’s anything like the Toronto Tool Library, which has been replicated in dozens of other cities, including Hamilton, Halifax and Honolulu, expect it to spread like wildfire.

In a world that’s reached “peak stuff,” as Ikea’s sustainability exec recently put it, may the Sharing Depot dream reach Costco-sized heights. 

ecoholic@nowtoronto.com | @ecoholicnation

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