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Edinburgh tool library challenges notions of ownership  

Chris Hellawell has started a tool share from an old police box. Image: John Sinclair Photography

A project in Edinburgh is enabling people to share tools on a ‘pay as you can afford basis’, enabling residents to borrow a drill, lawnmower or saw for a week at a time.

The project, established by Chris Hellawell in March this year, has already attracted 100 members, lent out 300 tools and been donated more than 700. He rents out an old police box each Saturday morning where people are invited to come and join as members on a pay as you feel basis, usually around £20 each year.

Once signed up, they are given a username and password for the library’s database, where they can view its inventory and reserve tools. They book them out and then pick them up from the police box the following Saturday.

“Tool libraries exist to maximise the usefulness of tools,” explains Chris. 

“By sharing tools, they do more of what they exist to do, and we, as users benefit too.  We get our wood cut, or our lawn mown, or a hole drilled in our wall, but we don't need to shell out for expensive tools to do one job, and then have them sitting gathering dust for the rest of the year.  It also means there is only one carbon footprint for one tool that can help lots of people.

“I saw something I thought would work, and I guess I just did it! We are a community of people who share, and we want to engage with as many people as possible.” 

By Lucy

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