• Mark Strong

ripple effects


Three Xbox 360 games: Fable, Halo 2 and Elder Scrolls Oblivion
Credit: Mandy Owen.

I recently had a conversation about my participation in the secondhand market with videogames. While most people prefer to get games new or from their local shops, I often wait a few weeks after release and buy the games secondhand. After completing these games, I then sell them and move on to the next title. By excluding businesses, prices are generally kept lower, and the cost of these games is an agreement between me and the next person. On the other hand, businesses miss out on the transaction and the government misses the tax. Maybe that business owner was going to use that sale money towards some posters that revitalize the look of the store, or maybe the city was going to blow your tax dollars on civil lawsuit payouts. I personally think there's no business smaller or more local than myself, but what about the case of borrowing, where money is potentially removed from the situation?


Two men are installing hardwood flooring with one using a pneumatic tool
Credit: hnnbz

What about the ripple effects of borrowing a lightweight electric nail gun from the SKTL? The more obvious effects are the $100 saved on this tool that I may never use again and the fact that I don't have to store the tool for very long. How many of us have been at Tool Silo (or substitute a big box tool store name) and waited 15 minutes for the one associate responsible for an area of 500 products only to forget your question or feel bad that cheap version of the item you wanted truly sucks? Borrowing a tool means those suggestions won't cost you more than you budgeted for! I thought I needed a heavy pneumatic nail gun to affix trim to my wall. It turns out an electric lightweight 'brad nailer' has just enough power to do this without worrying about the extra and loud tank and pump. Having knowledgeable volunteers at SKTL in addition to friendly members from the communities means these kinds of time- and stress-saving suggestions happen during all hours of operation. That cost savings can be passed onto better materials for the project, or pocketed for something like a nice dinner or some secondhand videogames.


A man taps his temple to the words 'Borrow Tools, Work Less'
HE gets it...

Recommended tools for hardwood flooring include a $200 miter saw, a $20 kit of a small mallet, shims and a tapping block, a $10 pair of clamps, a $100 brad nailer and another $20 of consumables like nails, tape, glue, and even an N95 mask for all the particles that come up when you're working with flooring. That's $350 before sales tax, but after income tax. That's a WEEK OF WORK, friends. That's five days of sprinting 3 blocks to the bus stop only to realize the bus you were chasing was the right company but wrong route. That's forty hours of fluorescent lights shining into your soul while you fidget with an outdated version of Excel that keeps changing your calendar dates to integers when you paste incorrectly. Gross.


However the effects of borrowing tools don't end at cost savings and ego protection. As a person who is usually buying cheaply, the tools I borrow from SKTL are generally better quality than I'd be willing to spend if I had to buy. In terms of sustainability, our tools get more frequent use in their lives compared to sitting in the average suburban garage, and the frequent exchanging of tools means more chances to maintain them (part of our check-in process).


A smirking woman with her sleeves rolled up, holding a drill
SHE gets it...

Speaking of maintenance, the concentrated inventory at SKTL means that items that break can be parted out instead of thrown away incomplete. For example, if a cordless Black and Decker drill stops working and can't be fixed, the battery can be paired with the next tool of the same brand. If the same thing happens at home, you might not have a tool, let alone second drill, that matches that battery. Donate those to us, by the way! Now that we're hypothetically buying a drill, we're also hypothetically introducing more cardboard, paper manuals and plastic to the situation. Also, I know you're not going to skip those gummy bears by the register while you're there.



One last less-obvious benefit of borrowing a tool from SKTL over buying it is what I'd like to call THE CROSSOVER. At Hammer Emporium or whatever, you're a little less likely to engage with strangers about the home improvement issues you're trying to solve, and instead waiting for one of those blessed apron-wearing individuals to consult with. But let me point out that SKTL members are quite friendly all-around and I've witnessed a lot of helpfulness between members waiting to get checked out. Another crossover is the many free events we host right there at the library!


To sum it all up, your decision to borrow over buy could leave you with a better quality tool, won't use up storage space in your home, educate you on alternatives to your plan, AND participate in a sustainable process that means less waste and cost for the region. With THE CROSSOVER, you also engage with other members and volunteers and learn about some really beneficial free events. That's actually how I, Mark, ended up part of SKTL. One trip to borrow tools turned into more than a year of essentially free home improvement and repair, augmented by clothing swaps, repair cafes and waste reduction seminars.