With the idea of environmental responsibility taking up more mental real estate in the past few years, we’ve all been looking for ways to minimize our impact and give Mother Nature a little breather.
From ride sharing and carbon offset programs to solar panels on our homes and earth-friendly packaging, we’re getting pretty good at it!
While some approaches (solar paneling, for example) may still be a little on the cost prohibitive side, for most folks looking to live more sustainably, the practice of renting (tools, clothing, cars…) feels like a pretty fundamental place to start. Depending on the need, renting may well be better than buying new, and there are plenty of outlets providing temporary access to things we need at a reasonable price.
But is renting actually more sustainable than buying? In this article we’ll take a closer look, using the subject we know best--tools!--as an example.
Although tool-sharing may be a totally untapped market (we’re the only ones with an app for it, after all), tool rental has been around for ages. While we find the exorbitant cost of renting from big box stores to be unforgivably annoying, renting allows you to use tools that are already in circulation instead of plucking a new one from the shelf, which will need to be replaced with a newly manufactured tool of the same type. That’s a good thing because:
Overproduction is the enemy of the environment. That’s it. That’s the whole tweet.
Manufacturers are often located across the country or even internationally, which means your tools have to leave a lot of (carbon) footprints to get to you.
- As with so many commodities, the actual production process is a major environmental concern. For popular tool manufacturers who need to meet widespread demand, large factories and quick production time are necessities--which is a bummer, because we haven’t quite figured out how to engineer factories that aren’t total environmental bulldozers.
You order a thing. That thing has to be shipped to you. Whether it’s dropped into the cabin of a plane, train, or automobile, it’s leaving a trail of emissions puffs in its wake.
“But I don’t order my tools online!”
New tools still need to be shipped from the manufacturer to the stores where you buy them.
When it comes to the environmental cost of shipping, it’s clear that renting is the winner:
Renting is community-based. Your local hardware store (or your neighbor!) may be stocking exactly what you need a short way from your home. No excessive transportation necessary.
- There’s also something to be said about the packaging that comes along with purchasing new tools. Many are wrapped in plastic and cardboard, and ordering online creates even more waste from boxes and packing materials used for shipping.
THE LOCAL ECONOMY
When we hear the word “sustainable” we’re often drawn directly to the issue of environmental responsibility, but rental and peer-to-peer services can contribute to other kinds of sustainability as well.
When possible, renting from small businesses instead of behemoth home improvement stores bolsters the local economy and directly supports local business owners.
Peer-to-peer platforms, like Sparetoolz, offer a side hustle opportunity for those who need a little extra cash but don’t have the time to devote to a part-time job or freelance gig. In the same breath, they provide renters with a local, more economical option than renting from the Big Guys.
- Remember all those times you just needed one thing, but your only option was to buy it in a set? You don’t need those four other tools, but the thought of spending the day store-hopping to find that one little wrench? Groan. So you buy the set.
Since tool rental outlets (and neighbors) stock a variety of onesie-twosie items, renting can make it easier to get just the thing you want, with no extra fuss or expense.
Subscription and rental services continue to increase in popularity, and that’s not for nothing. Renting your tools via an app like Sparetoolz can do wonders for reducing your carbon footprint--among a plethora of other sustainability efforts.
Renting allows you to meet owners who care about the lifecycle of their tools, contribute to reduction of overproduction, and get what you need at the price you need it.
If renting from your neighbors isn’t an option or makes you uncomfortable, check out your local hardware store. See what they have and ask around -- try to support them first, and use big box stores as a last resort.
Ready to play your role in minimizing our impact to the environment? Download the Sparetoolz app now!