Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

Volunteer Feedback + Opportunities

As an organization that relies on our volunteers to keep our doors open, we like to follow up with our librarians, fixers and shop supervisors from time to time. But we’ve never had a consolidated feedback process – so we made one!

The Toronto Tool Library is but an empty shell without you – so please take 5 minutes to fill out our survey and let us know how we’re doing!  


As we move into the holidays there are lots of ways to stay (or get!) involved:


  • Holiday Swap Event: We will be running our popular annual Holiday Gift Swap and we will need volunteers to help out! We will need help sorting the items that come in for the swap, running the maker stations and the zero waste wrapping station. The details are still being worked out, but it will likely take place in early December. Keep an eye out for the details and let us know if you want to help out! You can email our zero waste events coordinator


  • Volunteer Opportunities: Our new librarians Ria and Andre are keeping our spaces in great shape – but they still need your help!! We LOVE seeing volunteers we haven’t seen in a while, and love introducing new folks into our home! If you’d like to get involved in covering a library shift, being a shop supervisor, or working on inventory repairs, please get in touch with Kevin directly at  

When you volunteer 10 or more hours a month with us, you get:

FREE Tool Library & Sharing Depot Memberships
FREE Makerspace Membership
FREE access to all our events
Discounts on workshops

New to volunteering with us and want to learn more? You can find more information about volunteering with the Tool Library & Sharing Depot on our volunteer page!

Volunteer Appreciation Community Night

We want to celebrate all the people in this community that have made and continue to make this project possible. YOU ARE AWESOME!

At the end of October we had to do the unimaginable – uproot our Toronto Tool Library, Sharing Depot & Makerspace from the Danforth to 192 Spadina! This was an emotionally and physically difficult task. We could not have done it without the support and love of all our amazing volunteers!

SO wonderful volunteers, please join us on Wednesday, November 21st from 5-10pm for a very special Volunteer Appreciation Community Night so we can shower you with gratitude and pizza, and show off our new home at 192 Spadina, on the ground floor of the new Centre for Social InnovationSee you there!
Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

Green Your Halloween with the Five Rules of a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Monsters, ghouls and the undead – the most terrifying characters of our collective psyche materialize on Halloween to haunt our streets, our subway cars and our public spaces.

But the scariest aspect is no fantasy at all: it’s the very real amount of waste and garbage left in the wake of this horrifying holiday. Disposable candy wrappers, cheaply made decorations and costumes not made to last and Halloween parties with single-use cups, cutlery and plates are enough to send the undead screaming back to their graves.

Exact numbers on how much waste is generated over the course of this holiday in Canada are eerily hard to come by, but on average, The Retail Council estimates that Canadians spent about $1 billion on Halloween celebrations in 2015. In 2014, Canadians spent $397 million on Halloween candy alone ($276 million being the average for the other months of the year). Using the financial numbers, one can easily conjure up the frightful amount of waste that continues to haunt us long after the face paint has been washed off and the jack o’lanterns have rotted away.

SO, how do you celebrate Halloween (so that your children don’t grow up deprived and resent you forever) while reducing the disgusting amount of waste generated at this time of year?

Author and high priestess of the zero waste movement Bea Johnson joined us in Toronto for a talk on how to shift into a zero waste lifestyle last year. Let’s apply her five rules for living wastelessly to Halloween and see what happens, shall we?


1) Refuse


The first rule of a zero waste lifestyle is to simply say no. Each time you purchase something new in a store, you are creating demand in the market to produce more, which means increased resource extraction, production, packaging and shipping. By refusing to purchase new in store, you are slowing the engine that demands problematic infinite growth on a finite planet.

In terms of Halloween, this is the easy part: you look those cheaply made polyester costumes right in their plastic mask faces and just. say. NO. Don’t buy the cheap plastic gravestones that look as though they will crack into a million slivers if just one child dressed as a ghost with poorly-cut eyeholes stumbles into them. Refuse the mass produced stringy fake spider webbing complete with plastic spiders and bugs (artificial spider webs are deadly for birds and other wild animals, for one thing). Resist the urge to purchase cute disposable napkins, plates and cutlery for your Halloween party.

“Ok, ok we get it! Don’t buy shitty Halloween products. But what comes next? How do I decorate my living space and where is my costume going to come from?”

Let us proceed.


2) Reduce


The second rule of living a more wasteless life involves decluttering your living space and reducing what you need.

In terms of Halloween, this is the fun part:

  • HOST OR JOIN A SWAP: get out your old Halloween costumes and decorations that you no longer want and organize a Halloween swap within your community. This way, stuff that was lying around collecting a frightful amount of dust is brought back to life in the hands of someone else who needs it.


  • TRADE: if you don’t want to organize a swap within your community and can’t find one to join, jump on Bunz Trading Zone and trade with someone for a costume/decor items. Again, this involves decluttering your living space to find things you no longer need and posting them to the app as available for trade. If you have something specific you are looking to find for Halloween, you can use the handy search function on the app to locate people in Toronto who have that item available. There is also a Bunz Halloween Zone on Facebook.


  • BORROW from Toronto’s Library of Things: in the Sharing Depot‘s party supply section you will find record players and blue tooth speakers to play your spooky tunes on, a projector to project scary movies, popcorn makers, extra chairs, reusable dish sets, etc. Borrowing instead of buying allows you to refuse over-consumption while still accessing the things you need to enhance the spooky fun of a Halloween party!



3) Reuse


Johnson’s third rule for ditching waste is to reuse and repurpose materials that you already have.

In terms of Halloween, this is where it gets creative. Take a look around your living space for items that can be repurposed into clever costumes and decorations. If you have kids, you can make this an exciting and fun aspect of your Halloween tradition together. For example:

  • cardboard and cereal boxes can be used to make spooky cutout silhouettes – such as bats, owls, crows, etc.-  that can be placed in windows and become backlit when you turn on the lights at night. Find some inspiration here.
  • plastic milk or juice jugs can be transformed into spooky ghost lanterns using a string of lights.
  • pillowcases can be used as an alternative to buying cheap plastic trick-or-treat containers.
  • string can be used to construct a DIY spider web as an alternative to the fake spider webbing sold at Halloween. If you’re looking for a spider to go in it, check out Bunz Trading Zone or peruse the kids section of your local thrift store.
  • egg cartons are actually just spooky hanging bats waiting to happen.
  • toilet paper rolls can be turned into creepy glowing eyes to be placed strategically in bushes and trees (swap the glow stick for a reusable tea light).
  • aluminum cans can be be transformed into tin can lights to a-lluminate your walkway.
  • an old sheet can be upcycled into spooky curtains with rips and fake blood that can be hung in a doorway or porch (for fake blood, all you have to do is cut beets on top of the sheet and you’re good to go).
  • make a costume out of actual garbage to make a point about our wasteful society.

If you can, hang on to your creations for next year’s Halloween celebrations, either to reuse in your own home or to pass on at a swap.


4) Recycle


The fourth rule for living the wasteless life is to recycle. Recycling is not a solution to mass over-consumption, but where possible, it is preferable to use things that can be recycled effectively than not.

In terms of Halloween, this is where the treats get tricky. Candy wrappers are notoriously difficult to recycle because they are often made with mixed materials (bits of plastic, aluminum and paper) that make it tedious and expensive for recycling.

What you can do:

  • if you are purchasing candy to distribute, ensure it comes in fully recyclable packaging: candy that comes in cardboard boxes, for instance (things like smarties, nerds, raisons and chocolate covered raisons, etc).
  • if you are hosting your own Halloween party, purchase your candy in bulk from a bulk store using your own jars to avoid the candy wrapper dilemma altogether. To find bulk stores close to you that allow you to BYOJ (bring your own jar), check out Bea Johnson’s Bulk Store Locator.
  • if you have kids that are going out trick-or-treating and they bring back a haunting amount of candy wrappers, don’t despair. Partner with some friends to purchase one of terracycle’s zero waste boxes. You place all your wrappers inside, send it back to them and they ensure the materials are properly separated and recycled.


5) Rot


Rot is Bea Johnson’s final rule for living a zero waste lifestyle and refers to composting organic materials.

In terms of Halloween, you can do a number of things that fall into this rotten category:

  • use pumpkins, gourds or even pineapples for decorations. When you are finished with them, they can be put in the compost.
  • you can make a witch’s broom entirely out of sticks, which of course can be disassembled when Halloween is over with no waste created.
  • eat/use what you can from your pumpkins. Everyone knows you can roast and eat the seeds of your pumpkin, but there are a myriad of other ways to use the leftovers. And considering that in Canada we produce 65 tonnes of them for this holiday alone, we should probably figure out other uses for them lest they contribute to the problems with food waste.
  • bring your pumpkin to one of Toronto’s pumpkin parades on November 1st where neighbourhoods bid a final farewell to their jack-o-lanterns. The city’s Solid Waste Management division provides disposal bins where pumpkins can be placed and taken for composting.

Social Media Manager and Content Creator, @itsahashtaglife has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

UPDATE: our Danforth Location is Moving. Here’s Where We’re Going.

In October 2013, we opened our Tool Library and Makerspace on the Danforth. Immediately we became part of a vibrant and supportive community that has filled our space with energy and life. In 5 whole years, over 3000 members have joined us at the Danforth to volunteer (THANK YOU!), borrow, teach, tinker and make, and many of you have become unforgettable friends and an essential part of this community.

So, big news!

It’s with a whole range of emotions that we announce the relocation of our Danforth Tool Library and Makerspace to 192 Spadina Avenue, inside the new location of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI Spadina). We want you to know that we are extremely sad to leave our community on the Danforth – we searched high and low in the surrounding area of our current location and could not find a building with the correct zoning or within our price range (you may have noticed, Toronto’s real estate market has become aggressive and increasingly difficult for small organizations like ours to navigate. Voice your concerns to your local politicians, please).

The move to CSI Spadina is a huge opportunity for us. CSI and the wonderful organizations that call it home have guided, supported and mentored us since 2012 before our first branch opened. CSI has given us space, helped us apply for funding, celebrated our successes, and allowed us to host countless events within their walls.

The new space at CSI Spadina has been run by STEAMLabs, an inspiring educational non-profit that has taught hundreds of kids the power of innovation, design and creation. They’ve been running programs at our Makerspace over the past year, and we’re happy to continue hosting their youth programming at CSI Spadina. They’ve been stewards of that amazing space, and we’re excited and grateful to continue the work that they began!

Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know, scroll down for a more extensive Q&A at the bottom of the page:
  • 1803 Danforth will CLOSE on Saturday October 27th, at 3:00pm. All loans should be returned by then, so please plan accordingly.

  • All Danforth memberships will be transferred to CSI Spadina, Hillcrest and Parkdale. You will be able to continue borrowing items from these spaces with your Danforth membership and, for Makerspace members, continue using the Makerspace at CSI Spadina. If you have specific questions about this, contact TTL Manager Kevin (

  • Makerspace members, we’d love to bring you with us. The new space will be better in so many ways (e.g. brighter, with higher ceilings and better machinery). To work out the details of your transition, get in touch with Executive Director Hillary (

  • If you want to chat about the history of this decision, please get in touch with our co-founder

Danforth community, we couldn’t have made it this far without you! We want you to know that the intention is to RETURN to the Danforth as soon as we can. There are currently community consultations taking place in regards to The Danforth Garage, and we are involved in those consultations. You are welcome to join us in advocating for a sharing hub to become a part of that space when it opens.

Thank you for being a part of our vision, for believing in the power of sharing and for sticking with us as we navigate a complex process. Changing the world takes time, energy and patience – no ever said the road was straight. Together, we are going to change the world.

Follow along with us on social media and sign up for our newsletter for updates, new workshop announcements and insightful information about the growing new economy you are helping to build: FACEBOOK  TWITTER  INSTAGRAM

Q&A about the move:



We want you to know we really tried everything. It is sad, but ultimately we cannot rezone the downstairs area to allow for a Makerspace. This area of the city does not allow for the machinery we have (especially in a basement under residential tenants). The upstairs Tool Library and Sharing Depot (at $3,500/month) cannot sustain itself without the Makerspace.

After an intense and exhaustive 6 month search, there are zero affordable, reasonably located, correctly zoned (light industrial and retail) spaces in the East (we even tried to buy a building). We intend to return to the East side as soon as we are able to but do not have a timeline yet.


What about splitting the Makerspace from the Tool Library?

After running many scenarios, this unfortunately did not make financial sense.



We will be moving to CSI Spadina at 192 Spadina Avenue, on Spadina avenue between Dundas St. W. and Richmond St. W.



All loans must be returned by Saturday, October 27th. The new location will open in early November.


What happens to the Tool Library & Sharing Depot inventory?

Most of the inventory from the Danforth will move to CSI Spadina and will be available for borrow from there. 


What about my Tool Library/Sharing Depot membership?

All Danforth memberships will be transferred to our 830 St Clair West, 1499 Queen Street and 192 Spadina locations. As a card-holding member of the soon-to-be former Danforth location, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to continue the sharing revolution so decided to give you access to all three of our locations.

We can discuss specific concerns on a case by case basis. Please email TTL Manager Kevin at


What about my Makerspace ,embership?

The CSI Spadina will have a new makerspace. We would love to have you there, and also understand if it doesn’t work for you. To work out the details please email our ED Hillary at


An extra quick note:

The Toronto Tool Library project is run almost exclusively by volunteers, some of whom have been working for over 6 years to make this project happen! It is not the intent of the team behind the project to inconvenience you. With our backs to the wall, we made the decision that allows us to continue operating. If you’d like the history of this decision please email our co-founder Lawrence at, or give him a call at 416.420.4366.

Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

The Trends Pushing Fashion in a Sustainable Direction | Slow Fashion October

Sustainability is more than a trend – and we’re bringing together a group of local trailblazers during Slow Fashion October to discuss an industry at a turning point, what sustainable fashion actually looks like and how you can get involved. On October 14, we’re holding our bi-annual Drop, Swap & Shop event with Evergreen Brick Works and from 1-2pm that day you’ll be able to hear from sustainable fashion industry leaders at Worn Well: Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion.

The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry on the planet next to oil. This has become a rallying cry for those in the world of fashion who want to challenge the way we consume and throwaway clothing.

Consumption of low-quality disposable garments has risen exponentially over the last decade without any meaningful increase in textile recycling facilities. Thus, we have created the conditions for a perfect textile waste storm: between 1999 and 2009, the amount of textile waste generated by North America grew by over 40% to 25.46 billion pounds, which is expected to rise to 35.4 billion pounds by 2019. 85% of our used clothing, bed sheets, towels and other textiles goes straight to landfill, with the average North American contributing 81 pounds of textiles to landfill per year. Once there, they can take 40+ years to break down all the while releasing toxic leachate and methane gas – a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2.

Even during the production process, textiles have a significant impact on the environment: for instance, one cotton t-shirt requires 700 gallons of water to make (the equivalent of 27 bathtubs full) and a pair of jeans requires 1,800 gallons. The textile industry uses one third of the world’s fresh water resources to produce new garments.

The reality is, we’re producing and consuming too much clothing. We need to shift our culture’s attitude and behaviour around clothing, which is exactly what Slow Fashion October has set out to highlight. Here are some of the trends towards sustainability in fashion that are beginning to take root.


Buying Less

Probably the key factor driving the fashion industry in an unsustainable direction is the voracious appetite for more that the trend-obesessed world of fast fashion has unleashed, combined with a ubiquitous, omnipresent advertising system encouraging unhinged levels of consumption. Today we purchase 400 times more clothing than we did in 1980 with the number of new garments created every year now exceeding 100 billion. Meanwhile, we’re only holding onto the clothes we purchase for about half as long as we used to.

How did we get here? Once upon a time there were two seasons in the world of fashion: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.  Somewhere around 2014, however, the fashion industry began churning out 52 “micro-seasons” per year. What better way to encourage people to buy as many garments as possible than by releasing new trends every single week?

Simultaneously, lax labour laws overseas, mass production and cheap materials allowed companies to drive the price of clothing down, making it more tempting to purchase the $10 t-shirt without giving much thought to how much one actually needs it or how long it will last.

This is a big reason sustainable fashion bloggers and minimalists everywhere began practicing the ‘capsule wardrobe,’ a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of style, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can be interchanged with each other to make different outfits and can be augmented with seasonal pieces. A capsule wardrobe is kind of like coming up with a thesis around which to frame an essay – it becomes the skeleton that guides you in your shopping choices and reins in the urge to impulse buy cheap, trendy clothing.

Sustainable fashion blogger Lee Vosburgh launched something similar with her popular 10X10 challenges, seasonal exercises that encourage people to focus on what already exists in their closets. It works pretty much how it sounds: you pick 10 items from your closet, style them into 10 different ways over 10 days.

The capsule wardrobe and 10X10 challenges are symptomatic of a move away from quantity towards quality. The focus on meaningful, classic pieces that can be worn over and over again and activities that remind and reimagine what’s already in our closets, flips the scrip on how we relate to what we choose to bring home.


If not holding onto our clothing long enough is part of the problem, then one of the solutions is to bring back the ways of old and make repair a central component of our fashion culture again. Darning socks, patching holes, repairing a ripped crotch, sewing torn seams and replacing zippers are all effective ways to extend the lifecycle of a garment.

Clothing Repairathon Toronto is a small but mighty group of volunteers that has been promoting a culture of textile repair in Toronto. They host events at various places around the city and invite people to bring in their worn out threads to get them mended. Check out their website or join their Facebook group to look for upcoming repair events or to get advice on how to mend something yourself.

Unintentionally destroyed denim? Take them to Doctor Denim, a Mississauga-based company that repairs jeans to help you avoid purchasing a new pair. Using a dense darning method – not patching – for better hold and durability, they take care of everything from split seats to torn rear pockets. You can drop off your ailing denim at three locations in the GTA.

Repair Café Toronto is another local repair organization that often has textile repair volunteers at their events. They hold pop-up repair events all around the city and we also host them at our 830 St Clair West location every Sunday from 12-4pm.


In some circumstances, it might not be necessary to own every item of clothing we need. Access to the things we need occasionally is far more sustainable (both for the planet and our wallets) than purchasing an item we’re only going to wear once or twice. For special occasions, a night out on the town or for the dedicated owner of a capsule wardrobe who wants to supplement with a trendy piece now and then, borrowing clothing from a lending service makes a lot more sense.

In Toronto, you can borrow fancy outfits and dresses from Rent Frock Repeat and stylish designer clothes through Boro. Toronto is also one step closer to getting a full blown ‘library of clothes’ thanks to FreshRents who has recently set up a clothing lending library pilot project through CSI Toronto. FreshRents will be joining us on October 14 to tell us all about it during our Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion.

Our hope for the Fresh Fashion Library is to create a network of local, community based hubs around the world where people can access, exchange, and recycle fashion items waste-free, guilt-free, and hassle-free.

Second Hand

Consumers must recognize that the most sustainable item is the one that already exists. – 2018 State of Reuse Report

If borrowing from a fashion library isn’t your style, looking for what you need second hand is another sustainable shopping habit to integrate into your lifestyle. And in 2018, there are so many ways to do that:

  • Trade for new-to-you clothes and other textiles using the popular Toronto-based app Bunz Trading Zone. This is an efficient and easy way to find what you need thanks to the app’s handy search function: if there is something in particular you are looking for, you just plug it into the search bar and any user with that item for trade pops up.
  • Go on a treasure hunt at you’re local second-hand shops! And if you don’t feel like digging through the racks of a thrift store for in-style and trendy pieces, check out the carefully curated consignment inventory at places like Common Sort or Kind Exchange.
  • Hosting or attending a community swap. It is particularly effective to host swaps just prior to the changing of seasons so you can get what you need for the change in weather. The fall edition of our extremely popular Drop, Swap & Shop event with Evergreen Brick Works is just around the corner on October 14th! Find all the details in the event page here.


It’s not waste until you waste it.

Perhaps the most sustainable way to make or purchase something new is to ensure that new item is made with materials that already exist. If we’re producing over 100 billion new garments each year and don’t even have many facilities that can effectively recycle textiles, then we need to be consciously looking for ways to reuse the materials that already exist in circulation.

Zero Waste Daniel in Brooklyn is a shining example of this. They make their product with a zero waste, closed-loop production process, taking fabric waste (scraps that are generated from other fashion designers and factories during the clothing-making process) and using those scraps to create a line of fully upcycled clothing. Rather than ordering all new materials to make their garments, they are taking discarded fabric and breathing new life into it, preventing it from going to landfill and simultaneously saving on all the resources it takes to produce new fabric.

I think that when you make things, you can actually make change and instead of creating new resources, we’re adding value to them…to breath new life into them. – Zero Waste Daniel

Some of the bigger brands are also beginning to venture into similar initiatives (though not nearly as closed-loop as Zero Waste Daniel). Patagonia has begun a textile recycling initiative and has a line of clothing made out of recycled materials. Reformation uses deadstock and vintage fabrics and refibra (a material that combines recycled cotton with wood pulp) to make a certain percentage of their clothing. And  Levi’s has begun accepting ANY brand of clothing or shoes in in-store recycling bins in the US and Canada

Creative Reuse Toronto is a local group of artists, educators, environmentalists and activists who are dedicated to diverting textile waste through the upcycling process and are working towards setting up a Creative Reuse Centre in the city. Artist and coordinator Helen Melbourne joins us for our Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion on October 14 to discuss how upcycling and diverting waste is one very important element in fashion’s future.

The Maker Movement

The rise in awareness about unfair labour conditions in factories overseas and an interest in long-lasting, simple pieces of clothing have culminated in a growing maker movement, the epitome of what slow fashion stands for. Sabine Spare of Toronto’s Spare Label will be joining us for our Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion on October 14th to speak about the handmade revolution.

Purchasing handmade clothing from an artisan or small startup has a number of environmental benefits:

  • Handmade clothes tend to be higher quality than something that is mass produced overseas, so it lasts longer and tends to be easier to repair.
  • Clothes are typically made to order or in very small batches, so there won’t be piles and piles of unsold merchandise leftover, as is the case with big labels who often burn or destroy unsold merchandise.
  • Many makers are beginning to look into the sustainability and long term environmental effects of the materials they are using, working their way down through the supply chain to make the most sustainable choices possible at every step of the way.
  • Makers often stick with minimal, classic styles that don’t go out of fashion, ignoring altogether the micro-seasons and flash trends being imposed by the profit-obsessed fast fashion retailers.

Don’t know where to look for handmade clothing? Here’s a list of local Canadian designers to get you started:

  • Ora Leather Goods
  • Hendrick and Lou
  • Bees + Bones
  • Korine Vader
  • Cedar and Vine
  • Spare Label
  • Amanda Moss Clothing
  • Crywolf Clothing
  • Bare Knitwear
  • Dagg + Stacey
  • Jexy & Jax
  • Miik Men
  • NoseKnws
  • The Greater Good
  • Triarchy

Continue the conversation about sustainable fashion with us at Worn Well: Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion on Sunday, October 14 @ 1:00pm at Evergreen Brick Works.


This is a guest blog from @itsahashtaglife, a social media manager, storyteller and blogger for non-profits and charities in Toronto.

Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

Let’s Change the World Together, Join Our Team!

The Institute for a Resource Based Economy (IRBE) – the folks who brought you the Toronto Tool Library and Sharing Depot – is looking for THREE new volunteer Board Members!

We are at an exciting time as our organization expands, and we need more movers and shakers to help us get it all done. We are particularly interested in hearing from folks with business acumen or with fundraising expertise. Anyone who is interested in building a more equitable and sustainable future for people and planet are encouraged to apply! Previous experience on a board is not required.

IRBE is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from BIPOC folks (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour).


  • Ability to work well in a highly collaborative team dynamic
  • Ambitious, determined folks who are eager to contribute to ourorganization
  • Willingness to learn quickly, acquire new skill sets, take on new tasks
  • Can help support and appreciate our great network of volunteers andpartners



The average time commitment of a Board Member is about 10hrs/month, including the below responsibilities:

  • One 5 hour shift per month at one of our Toronto Tool Library/Sharing Depot locations
  • Board Meetings, held every 6-8 weeks
  • One annual Board Weekend Retreat (dates to be determined)
  • Additional committee work in between Board Meetings, asdetermined by organizational needs and events


How to Apply: 

Please submit a Resume and Cover Letter by September 14th 11:59 EST to In your cover letter, please describe why you would like to be a part of the IRBE Board, and what sort of asset, vision and energy you might bring with you. We look forward to hearing from you!

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Nelson Henderson

All this information is available as a PDF, download it here >> IRBE Board of Directors Recruitment Document 

Posted on / by Emily / in Blog

Toronto Tool Library Co-Founder Speaks to ON Social Impact Podcast

Our co-founder Lawrence Alvarez was recently invited onto ON Social Impact Podcast to discuss the history of the Toronto Tool Library and Sharing Depot, the incredible global impact we continue to have in helping others set up their own sharing projects and the importance of projects like these and how governing bodies can get involved to help them flourish.

There’s a lot of things on the planet that we really need to distribute more efficiently…it really is about producing less, wasting less and being way more conscious with what we have. So this is where resource sharing, tool libraries, alternative lending libraries, libraries of things – they absolutely need to spread. I don’t think these libraries are an example of a transitional project – no. This is something that absolutely will exist now and must exist in 100 years if we are to live in a sane, just, equitable, conscious society. – Lawrence Alvarez, Toronto Tool Library & Sharing Depot co-founder

Lawrence Alvarez is one of the co-founders of Toronto Tool Library – a business whose name really doesn’t cover half of the amazing stuff they offer.

In this podcast, Lawrence talks about the growth of the Tool Library, the very real change it has been set up to make in the world, and the reason why tool libraries need to exist in the first place.

We also ponder the question – “how many hammers does the world actually need?”

Posted on / by Emily / in Blog, Slider Home Posts

What Borrowed Tools Can Do: Projects Made by the TTL Community

There’s no question that Toronto has some exceptionally talented makers. We are extremely fortunate to get to see that talent on full display when makers borrow our tools and hashtag the projects they create with #TTLmade.

Here’s a few that really knocked our socks off! Please feel free to share the projects you create, repair or renovate with borrowed tools (or in our Makerspace) by tagging your posts #TTLmade!

For those of you who have your own ideas for projects but know where to get started, we can help you in three ways:



  • On Wednesdays, we run a free open Community Night at our 1803 Danoforth Makerspace so anyone can come in to use the tools with the help of our expert volunteers: 3D printers, laser cutter, full wood shop and any of the tools in our Tool Library inventory. This runs from 7pm-10pm every Wednesday, no appointment necessary – just show up!


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1) Grant’s Pizza Oven


Yup, Grant made this dreamy pizza oven using tools he borrowed from the tool library!


2) Dana’s Canoe


Dana borrowed our scroll saw, belt sander, chisels and literally all of our clamps to build this beautiful canoe in his kitchen. You can read about this story on our blog.


3) Michael’s Balance Bike


Michael, one of our Makerspace members, built this awesome balance bike for his daughter! The process: straightforward cutting of pieces with various saws at the Tool Library, including a lot of bandsawing. Glueing and clamping, followed by more bandsaw trimming, and shaping on the belt sander. Final hand-sanding, seat upholstery and final assembly were done at home.


4) Jarrod’s Bench Bar


This is one of the loveliest upcycling projects we’ve seen in a while. Recently, our volunteer Jarrod built this whole thing using upcycled wood from an old fence with borrowed tools from the Tool Library! The middle opens up to a cooler for drinks!


5) Gordon’s Wind Tunnel 


Gordon & his team used our 3D Printers and Laser Cutter to make this crazy Wind Tunnel! They got the highest mark in their class for this one, obviously!


6) Sam’s Dulcimer 


Our Makerspace member Sam working on his Dulcimer at our 1803 Danforth Ave Makerspace.


7) Mihnea & family’s Back Steps


Mihnea & family shared this photos of the back steps they built using borrowed tools from the tool library!


8) Christopher’s Upcycled Wood Pallet Coffee Table

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.20.02 AM

Christopher made this amazing upcycled wood pallet coffee table using Toronto Tool Library sanders, planers, work tables, clamps and frequent visits to our Danforth woodshop! He says our services saved him a lot of time and money. Beautiful results!


9) Baby Drumsticks

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Love these baby drumsticks, regrammed from @walkmydogto! They were made from an old set of big drumsticks on the wood lathe in our makerspace! Awesome upcycling!


10) Grant’s Row Boat


Yes, another boat! Grant built this row boat with tools from our tool library. Before or after he built the Pizza Oven above, we’re not sure! Some serious talent right huurr.


11) A Loft Bed


A member made this loft bed using our tools & put it on instructables! You can get the instruction to do-it-youself here.


12) Laure’s Plant Shelf


Toronto Tool Library member Laure used scrap wood in her backyard and borrowed tools from the Tool Library to build this plant shelving unit!


13) Rob’s Coils

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Rob made these stunning coils for a workshop on recording electromagnetic signals using tools from the tool library and our laser cutter!


14) Sheldon’s Cutting Boards

Sheldon made this cutting board using 5 different varieties of wood: Black Walnut and Oak from North America and Leopard, Canary and Purpleheart Wood from South America.


15) Wooden Mushrooms

Stunning wooden mushrooms made on our lathe during our free Wednesday Community Night.

We work really hard to keep this non-profit tool sharing service alive. It really motivates us to see what the community is able to achieve using borrowed tools! If you make something, repair something or renovate something using tools from the tool library (or in our Makerspace) PLEASE SHARE! Use the hashtag #TTLmade!

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Posted on / by Emily / in Blog, Slider Home Posts

Pay-As-You-Go Fridays in the Wood Shop


You’ve been asking for pay-as-you go time in the our wood shop – and here it is!


Your summer projects are ramping up, and we’re making space for you to get into the wood shop and get them going! Every Friday in July we’re opening the woodshop for pay-as-you-go access. You can use the tools yourself if you’ve taken our certification course, or enlist the help of our onsite staff if you haven’t.

We’ll be open from 6 – 9 pm, with access starting at $15 an hour, or $35 for all three hours. See you by the saws!


Looking for our Wood Shop Certification Course?


To use the tools in our wood shop independently, you need to take our Wood Shop Certification Course which runs every Saturday from 10am-1pm at our 1803 Danforth location. During this course you will learn to the safe operation of the following tools:

  • Table Saw
  • Thickness Planer
  • Jointer
  • Router Table
  • Band Saw
  • Sliding Compound Mitre Saw
  • Belt Sander

Here are upcoming dates for the Wood Shop Certification:

Monday, July 16, 6:00-9:00pm

Monday, July 23, 6:00-9:00pm

Saturday, July 28, 10:00am-1:00pm

Monday, July 30, 6:00-9:00pm

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Posted on / by Emily / in Blog, Slider Home Posts

Big News – our East York Location is Moving!

Big news everyone – we’re moving our East York location in November!


We’ve outgrown the space. We started in the basement, moved to occupy the main floor, and now we’re ready for the next level. We’re excited!


Why now?

Longstanding zoning issues have come to a head and we had to decide whether to pursue rezoning or search for a more suitable space. The current location has always been a compromise, so we’ve decided not to rezone and find another space instead. The East York space is not suitable for our diverse maker community, and the Tool Library and Sharing Depot is ready to grow.

Our other two locations – Parkdale and Hillcrest – will continue normal operations.

This is a huge opportunity! An opportunity to grow, expand, innovate and reach the next level for our organization. The new space will be better, safer, and more accesible. The East York location has 3,000 members and we have made 33,000 loans – we’re a large community and we don’t intend to stop growing.


Where are we moving to?

Though we don’t know the address yet, we aim to remain in the East side where we’ve built and been supported by a strong community. We’re working with partners, agents, and our existing team to find something perfect.


How does this affect TTL/SD memberships?

Ideally, not very much! We’ll be closed for a few days while we relocate our inventory, and during this time we will accommodate all members at other locations.


What can I do to help?

We’ll be sending out a survey in the coming weeks to ask what you want in an upgraded Tool Library/Sharing Depot/Makerspace. What kinds of tools should it have? How big? Should it have the capacity to be launched into space? Be able to create an artificial vacuum in which to test the durability of your Mars furniture? Your valuable input will be used to decide the makeup of our next iteration. What about metalworking, better dust collection, spray booth, a finishing area, and better storage?


In closing:

You’re a part of this community, and we won’t let you down! Our work is so important for it gives access, teaches skills, and promotes sharing, all with the goal of challenging ownership, our relationship to the Earth’s resources, and combating the devastating changes to the climate that come with over-consumption, and business-as-usual. This move of our East York location is a chance to further serve this mission.

If you have any questions or concerns, or want to get involved, please email us at



Lawrence Alvarez, Co-founder/Board Member
The Institute for a Resource-Based Economy
Posted on / by Emily / in Blog, Slider Home Posts

How Collaborative Consumption Benefits the Environment

There are numerous reasons people become members of the Toronto Tool Library & Sharing Depot. Sometimes it’s about the money people save when they are looking for specific items such as expensive tools for a renovation, a set of chairs and an outdoor canopy for an event or all the camping gear necessary for an outdoor escape with the family. Sometimes it’s about the community aspect of the space: the knowledge that by joining a library of things, neighbours are collectively supporting a place where everyone can access what they need regardless of their income. And sometimes, it’s about the space people save in their homes when they no longer need to store all these items they only need to use occasionally.

On #WorldEnvironmentDay, it’s worth doing a deep dive into one of the most important benefits of all: the lighter environmental footprint that comes with borrowing stuff rather than purchasing it new in store. Here are 3 key ways borrowing from a library of things is more sustainable:


Borrowing Uses Less Resources

Our current global socioeconomic system operates on one key principle: infinite consumption of goods and services. In this model, it’s ideal for each and every person to own things individually, even if it means each house on your block has a drill stored in the basement that’s only being used occasionally. Unfortunately for GDP and the pockets of rich people everywhere, this model is completely out of sync with the way our planet works. You cannot have infinite growth and consumption of resources on a finite planet. This might be why researchers are beginning to learn that:

“between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well.” (source)

Sharing items within a community is a great way to counteract this. If you imagine the amount of energy and materials that go into making and distributing a single tool (the oil, rare metals and water used in production, the fuel used to ship it all over the world, the packaging it comes in, etc.) you can imagine how much more sustainable it is to share a few drills amongst a group of people. The mass, private ownership of tools – as an example – makes little social sense when we consider that most domestic power tools are used for just 10% of the time they are designed to last and spend the rest of their lives depreciating in basements and storage units.

Refuse to buy new and borrow instead.


Creating a Culture of Repair & Reuse

Hot on the heals of refusing to buy new comes repair and reuse. There’s a reason recycle is relegated to the back of the line: recycling is still resource-intensive and most of the environmental damage occurs before the process of recycling even takes place:

“By the time waste gets recycled, 95 per cent of the environmental damage has already occurred – in manufacturing, in oil extraction, in the poisoning of our rivers and air. People have to buy less…our economy is based on endless growth, endless production of what our landfills tell us is basically junk.” (source)

Furthermore, materials can only be recycled so many times before they become too weak to recycle anymore. Couple all this with the recent waste ban imposed by China, and you can see why a culture heavily reliant on recycling is not actually all that sustainable.

When you belong to a lending library like ours, you are helping to shift our culture away from a reliance on recycling to a culture of repair and reuse. We have an exceptional team of volunteers who maintain and fix our tools and other inventory items on a weekly basis. We have also partnered with Repair Café Toronto to give them their first permanent storefront location. This means every Sunday from 12-4pm, the Repair Café takes over our 830 St Clair West Ave location so people can get their broken items fixed for free.

We’ve also partnered with Boomerang Bags Toronto to run free workshops out of our spaces teaching people how to sew reusable bags out of unwanted textiles. Textile recycling is notoriously lacking in Canada and far too many textiles end up in landfill where they release harmful chemicals into the ground and atmosphere. Not only do workshops like this divert resources from landfill, it encourages people to use what is already in circulation rather than creating demand in the market by buying new. Sign up for the next workshop coming up on June 19th!


Fuelling the Shift to a Circular Economy

Currently our economy follows a linear model of resource consumption which follows this pattern: take-make-dispose. Waste is embedded in the design of this system and is therefore inevitable (consider the exponential rise in built-in and planned obsolescence whereby companies design products to fail in order to encourage people to consume yet more stuff). A Circular Economy, on the other hand,

“aims to ‘design out’ waste. Waste does not exist – products are designed and optimized for a cycle of disassembly and reuse. These tight component and product cycles…set it apart from disposal and even recycling where large amounts of embedded energy and labour are lost.” (source)

It is important to consider that the very system we use right now to distribute and access goods is inherently destructive. If we want to make real sustainable change on this planet, we need to advocate for a circular approach where products are designed to last, to be shared and to be disassembled and reused at the end of their lifespan. As the demand for collaborative consumption grows, this places pressure on industry to design and build products that are durable with parts that can be easily repaired, replaced and reused. The Toronto Tool Library has been featured in two articles from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation detailing the ways collaborative consumption fuels this much-needed shift into a more sustainable economy for people and the planet (you can read them here and here).

“There are signs of a shift to a system where household items are not used and disposed, but instead maintained, shared and re-used. The companies and projects described below are all pioneers on the journey to creating more circularity in our homes.” (source)



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I’m @itsahashtaglife, a social media manager, storyteller and blogger for non-profits and charities in Toronto. I take the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and apply them to organizations working hard to s Read more