Going beyond the 3 R’s this Earth Week

April 21st, 2016

 Jen Feigin of Endeavour Centre wheels a texture sprayer to be loaded into a truck full of tools that were donated to the Peterborough Tool Library at a tool drive last Saturday. By noon on April 21st, the Peterborough Tool Library Membership campaign had raised $8,466 out of the necessary $10,000 needed for the tool library to become a reality.

Jen Feigin of Endeavour Centre wheels a texture sprayer to be loaded into a truck full of tools that were donated to the Peterborough Tool Library at a tool drive on April 16th.

It’s Earth Week! Every year for one week around Earth Day, April 22nd, we celebrate the planet and take action to help the earth. We have been celebrating Earth Day in Canada since 1990.

In 2016, after twenty-six years of celebrating Earth Day, most of us are aware of the importance of being green. Many of us know the three R’s quite well, regularly lug a mug to the coffee shop, and understand the importance of planting a tree. Climate change has now become a regular topic at the dinner table, but most people agree that collectively, the way we live creates a great deal of waste.

While we continue to do our part by composting, recycling, and using rain barrels, there are also new and exciting initiatives aligned with the sharing economy that can help us to continue to make responsible choices in new ways.

The sharing economy provides avenues for people to access each other’s assets, skills, and resources so that a community of people can benefit together by owning less and sharing more – and the planet benefits, too.

For example, the new Peterborough Tool Library, hatched by Endeavour Centre, a local non-profit sustainable design organization, is putting an emphasis on access to tools instead of ownership. Tool Library members will be able to sign out drills, sanders, power washers, and many other tools that will all be shared among members.

The Peterborough Tool Library will help the planet in many ways. “A lot of stuff goes to waste in our culture because it needs fixing or repair,” explains Jen Feigin of Endeavour Centre, “It can be difficult for people to access the tools to do repairs, so broken things get thrown out when they simply could have used a little TLC.”

Members of the Tool Library will also help to reduce the cost on the planet that tool production can have. “The manufacturing of plastics, metal, magnets, and batteries is quite intensive,” says Feigin. “If 100 people can share one tool, that’s 99 tools that don’t need to be produced, simply to sit on the shelf for most of their life time.”

If it’s the actual fixing that you need help with, Repair Café Peterborough can help. Repair Café is a free, monthly event run by volunteer fixers who share their knowledge and skills to help you repair things that just don’t work anymore.

The idea to start Repair Café in Peterborough was inspired by a broken zipper. “I think it was a jacket; it had a zipper that stubbornly kept splitting,” explains Repair Café Coordinator, Lindsay Stroud. “The rest of the jacket was fully functional and in good condition, so the idea of tossing it in the trash made me feel uncomfortable when 90% of it still worked. Imagining it sitting in a landfill for years to come inspired me to look into alternatives.”

Repair Café fixers help rewire lamps, de-bug computers, mend rips in pants, glue broken jewelry, and more! Since it started just over a year ago, Repair Café has helped community members fix over 350 items that have ended up back in the hands of happy owners, and not in the landfill.

When you do opt to purchase a new item, think about the life your old item might have after you’re done with it. While recycling is a great option, some items such as computers, must be disposed of correctly as they cannot go to the landfill. There is an alternative to dropping your old laptop at the electronics disposal. You can choose to donate electronics to be refurbished and given new life.

reBOOT Canada is a company located right here in Peterborough that specifically helps with repairing, refurbishing, and reusing electronic equipment. “In 2015 we received more than 1500 electronic items as donations, with approximately 500 of those being computers,” explains reBOOT manager, Lars Verholt. “We allow a lot of what we take in to have a 2nd or 3rd life, and that does have a positive impact on the environment.”

Along with giving refurbished computers new homes, reBOOT can also help you upgrade your computer, install software, fix broken screens, and replace cords. They also offer subsidized access to technology for qualified youth, new Canadians, individuals on social assistance, and non-profit organizations.

Spring is perfect time for celebrating Earth Week by choosing a sustainable mode of transportation. Haul your bicycle out of the shed and give it the required seasonal tune-up. Since 2006, B!KE: The Peterborough Community Cycling Hub has been offering members the space and tools to fix and tune-up their bikes. There are also opportunities to expand your skills with support and workshops offered by experienced bike mechanics.

The sharing economy is thriving in Peterborough with many options for connecting, creating, and learning. Earth Week is the time to take action and engage with your community in new ways while also helping the planet.

To purchase a Peterborough Tool Library membership before their crowd funding Indiegogo campaign deadline at the end of this week, visit www.ptbotoollibrary.ca

For details about the next Repair Café, find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repaircafeptbo. If you have an electronic device to donate to reBOOT Canada, visit www.rebootpeterborough.ca. For more information about B!ke: Community Bike Shop memberships and workshops visit www.communitybikeshop.org

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