Can Peer-To-Peer Tool Rental Cut Your Carbon Footprint?

Tools For Rent photo

Thinking of the multiple home projects our family has undertaken under the last month of intensive homeowner repairs - repainting, refinishing of a damaged countertop, clean-out and setting up of a clothesline station in the laundry room - they nearly always engendered a trip to the hardware store to purchase a missing tool or tools. About half of those trips required car-borrowing for heavy schlepping or because the items were outside our bike circuit.

The E-bay of renting?
That same type of simple home repair project - in this case fixing a large wall mirror onto a wall - was what lead Frenchman Jeff Boudier to launch the Zilok peer-to-peer rental site in France in December 2007. Zilok launched in the U.S. earlier this spring and has now gathered around 15,000 members, mostly in large towns such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Similar groups are up and running in Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. The idea of neighbors lending tools to other neighbors isn't new (putting your zip code into the Zilok search engine makes it search in a 1.2 mile radius of your home - definitely bikeable). Irent2you is another site with a similar concept though a low tool inventory. In our close-knit neighborhood a tool library was one of the major ideas after we did a Northwest Earth Institute sustainability book group, but no-one wanted to be "tool central" or keep the list of who had what.

Peer-to-peer renting cuts car trips
Zilok's advantage is that renting tools for a small fee (for example, $2 to $5 per day for a cordless drill - the rentee sets fee and deposit) keep cash very local and gives rentees some security that the tool will come back unharmed. To me it's the next step in making neighborhoods and regions more self-sufficient and less dependent on those short car trips. Plus I don't need to own a power washer, a belt sander or a table saw - yeah! Seattle, Washington is unfortunately right now the nearest "neighborhood" to my Portland area with active Zilok members and tools and other goods for rent, but as soon as I make it back to PDX I'm putting some of my recent purchases out for rent to see how I fare and asking my neighbors to do the same. Via ::Journal Gazette

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