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Going Zero Waste – A Guide For Toronto

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

Following Bulk Barn’s recent announcement last week that they will now be making their reusable container program company policy across all locations (YAAS!), it seems the zero waste train in Canada is more than ready to leave the station. There are even rumours that Toronto will (finally) be getting the zero waste grocery store we’ve all been dreaming about for years (I mean come on Toronto, Montreal already has zero waste grocery stores and so does Vancouver). The zero waste movement is the answer we’ve been looking for in Canada for our serious (and embarrassing) waste problem. For those of you considering putting your garbage can on a diet and jumping aboard that zero waste train, here’s a handy list from someone who has been easing her way into a zero waste lifestyle (slowly) for a few years now. These are 11 things I recommend for those first staring out:   1) Don’t Start With A Jar Challenge  The zero waste movement was really launched into the mainstream a few years back with several flashy stories about bloggers who were taking the ‘jar challenge’ – they would only make enough trash to fill a single mason jar over the course of a year (Lauren Singer of Trash Is For Tossers can now boast TWO years of trash in a single jar). I considered starting my zero waste journey like this, but began having panic attacks and feared I would fill the jar only with tears of failure if I tried this now. After speaking with several Toronto bloggers, it seems the main barrier for starting a zero waste journey is the sense that it will be difficult. If this is how you feel, my advice is to find a place from which to launch and take baby steps. My launching place was the birth of my daughter 3 years ago. I made the conscious choice to use cloth diapers, which I purchased second hand on Kijiji. Pick one for yourself and see where it takes you.   2) Remember ‘The Five PillaRs’ Every movement needs a mantra and zero wasters are no exception to this rule. Pare Down, the Toronto-based family blazing the zero waste trail in this city, recommends keeping these five Rs close to your heart – and I agree. These will help keep you on track as you start transitioning your way into a zero waste lifestyle: The Five PillaRs Refuse what you do not need. Reduce what you do need. Reuse everything you can. Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse. Rot the rest.   3) Never Leave The House Unprepared In the beginning, I found a lot of my slip ups happened because I was not prepared – I would forget my reusable bag, my glass jars, my coffee cup. Now when...

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Saying Farewell to a Giant: Reflecting on Jacque Fresco

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Tool Blog |

  Jacque Fresco – American futurist and self-described social engineer – was an important inspiration to many of us involved in the Toronto Tool Library (he once visited us at our first communal living house in Toronto just prior to launching the tool library). On May 18th 2017, Jacque passed away at the age of 101.     Jacque was well known for his work with the Venus Project in Florida, his home and research centre for the exploration of how one might go about designing and engineering a world that no longer relies on money as a medium of exchange. According to this train of thought, many of the social ills of our time – poverty, hunger, war, environmental destruction, greed, selfishness, etc – are actually built right into the nature of our current economic model. Inequality, injustice and the unfair distribution of resources are symptoms of the current operating system on our planet and so long as we continue to treat the symptoms, the disease that causes them will remain. A system which pits human against human to fight over what are supposedly scarce resources brings out the worst in human nature.     What if we could design a world that brought out the best in human nature? What if we finally acknowledged that resources are not scarce – there really is enough to go around – and began building a world that reflected this reality? What if we began making things to last rather than to break down just so a corporation can turn the highest profit? What would the world look like if we were raised to collaborate with one another, rather than competing for grades, houses and top spots at the board room table? What if equality and human rights were built into the very fabric of existence?     Jacque’s book The Best That Money Can’t Buy, as well as his ideas about shifting the world towards a Resource-Based Economic model, were important inspirations for us when we decided to launch the first tool lending library in Toronto (the non-profit behind the Toronto Tool Library is called an Institute For A Resource-Based Economy). We were introduced to Jacque’s work via the Zeitgeist Film Series – most notably Zeitgeist Moving Forward – and wanted to find a concrete and useful way to communicate some of these ideas with people without hitting them over the head with them. What better way to help people understand the notion that things we need can (and perhaps a better word is should) be detached from money than through a resource sharing library? We are already so familiar with the concept of sharing books, why not extend it to...

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Tool Libraries: Spirit of a Global Movement

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

DIY and repurposing culture has exploded in recent years, fuelled by open-source websites such as Intructables and Thingiverse where people share knowledge and how-to guides on how to make everything – from crafting your own bunk bed (this one was made by one of our members!) to making a wallet out of a juice carton to 3D Printing your own fidget spinner. Online marketplaces such as Etsy and Instagram have even allowed some makers and crafters to take their DIY to the next level, fully supporting themselves on the income they generate from things they make. Tool Libraries are a rapidly emerging and important branch of this DIY culture, enabling folks who could not otherwise afford the expensive tools needed for these projects to access them at a low cost annual membership fee. Unsurprisingly, tool library locations are popping up across the globe – particularly here in North America. Opening its doors in 1979, the Berkley Tool Library has been a leader in this movement with the Bay Area now boasting over five different locations. In 2011, the Vancouver Tool Library sparked the trend in Canada, with the Toronto Tool Library fanning the flames shortly after by launching in 2013 and since expanding into four locations, some including additional resources such as Maker Spaces, Sharing Depots and Repair Cafes. After Toronto’s launch, the idea spread like wildfire: there are now tool libraries in Victoria, Calgary, Sudbury, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Halifax, just to name a few. The movement has become so popular that from June 9-11th, The Toronto Tool Library will be hosting lending libraries from all over the world for the 2nd Annual Lending Library Symposium. This conference has been designed to help librarians build their platforms through workshops covering volunteer engagement, governance models, expansion strategies and more – but anyone interested in the Alternative Library Movement is welcome to join us and mingle with thought-leaders: Register: Lending Library Symposium For some members, a Tool Library is simply a convenient means to access tools for projects around the home. But for others, (and certainly for the board that governs the Toronto Tool Library, called the Institute for a Resource Based Economy) these spaces are representative of a larger value system that stems from a long history. Concepts of lending and sharing have been shaped by communities that value reciprocity and the commons, who understand humans as only a small part of a larger system. These communities do not distinguish between economic growth and the impact it might have on our social and ecosystem health, but rather, they recognize that human wellbeing (and survival) is intrinsically dependent on how we protect the health of those systems. These relationships have forever been fundamental to many Indigenous communities, as scholars such as Winonah Laduke,...

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10 Easy Upcycling Projects For Kids

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

TTL Kids! happily situates itself in The Maker Movement, which can be broadly defined as a collective of people around the world who are employing do-it-yourself or do-it-with-others techniques to develop unique products and devices. Tinkering, coding, building, creating and innovating – together. This movement rests on makers making their designs open-source and available for anyone to reproduce off Internet sites such as Instructables or Thingiverse. We believe  that getting kids involved in areas that teach the skills and thought processes most likely to be in demand by future job markets is incredibly important. See Our Maker Education Programs But more than introducing Young Makers to the latest craze in Lego Bot building or DIY Fidget Spinners, we’re interested in getting Young Makers to think differently. We want to demystify how things work. We want our Young Makers to consider the potential of things, to make what hasn’t yet been made. One way to do this is to reuse and repurpose. We like to think of reclaiming and repurposing not as interchangeable verbs but as one leading to the other. Our instructors encourage Young Makers to reclaim items – to take items back – from the landfills, from our storage bins of forgotten things, from our junk drawers, and to repurpose them. We want them to rethink what these items can do, what they might be good for, and then give them new purpose, new life. Dustpans and wooden spoons become bot bodies, old circuit boards become lampshades, random washers and fasteners become switches. When we allow our imagination to start seeing the potential in things, we reconsider the purpose of things and we keep our minds flexible. And then maybe, when it’s time to go buy a new, whatever, we use what we have and make it ourselves instead. Here are a few great upcycling projects to bring that out-side-the-box thinking into the home: *** 1) Spool Knitter Spool knitting is something all kids enjoy – but why go out and buy the spool when kids can make their own out of old popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls and elastic bands? You can go even more minimal than that by using an old thread spool and some nails.   2) Weaving Loom Old CDs combined with some leftover yarn or yarn from a thrift store can be transformed into the perfect upcycled weaving frame!   3) Wind Chimes Save up those tins cans, find an old someone’s throwing away and you’ve got yourself a project!   4) E-jewelry Electronic e-waste is increasingly becoming a serious problem in the Western world as we continually upgrade our phones, computers and other devices on a regular basis. But, there’s no reason some of that e-waste can’t be repurposed! Over the years of...

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Good Healthy Food For All

Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

The Toronto Tool Library and Sharing Depot are extremely excited to be partnering with FoodShare Toronto as a pick-up location for their Good Food Box Program! What is the Good Food Box Program? FoodShare’s Good Food Box is a subsidized fresh produce distribution program. FoodShare’s distribution of fresh produce started 15 years ago as a way to create linkages between field and table. The goal was to increase the income of farmers, at the same time making affordable produce more accessible to Toronto communities and, particularly prioritizing low income people. Find more information about the project online here. This is the easier, cheaper way to access local, seasonal produce in Toronto. How Does It Work? Step 1: Select which food box you would like to order. You can see what’s inside the different boxes by clicking here. Step 2: Contact Jonathan at to place your order. Step 3: Your box will be delivered to 1803 Danforth Ave, Toronto Tool Library/Sharing Depot. Delivery days are the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Pick up your box and enjoy! Step 4: Repeat steps 1 through 3! Order A Good Food Box! Find out more about the Good Food Box program by reading their online flyer. To order your box, contact Jonathan at  Why order a Good Food Box? There are so many reasons, but we will break it down to our Top 3:   1) You Save Money The Good Food Program acts like a large buying club purchasing large quantities of produce from farmers and the Ontario Food Terminal at affordable rates. They are able to do this because all the boxes are pre-ordered and each type of box contains the same contents. Like our organization, volunteers who give their time help to keep rates down for you. Over 15 volunteers come to FoodShare’s warehouse every week to pack up to 1500 boxes. FoodShare also subsidizes the cost of the staff, warehouse rent and delivery costs by accepting generous donations and grants from the public, governments and foundations. The value of the $18 box at a regular supermarket often ranges between $25 and $27, depending on the store and the time of year.   2) You Support Local Family Farms A healthy farm economy helps to boost the urban economy and helps ensure we have access to affordable, local produce. By building relationships with local farmers we keep box prices low while paying hardworking farmers a fair price.   3) You Support the Environment Eating local food that is in season is more environmentally friendly: Imported food travels on average 2,500 km before it reaches our homes. That is roughly the distance between Toronto and Regina, for perspective. In general, the international agricultural process is responsible for 44% to 57% of global...

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