Several dozen residents came out to the Guelph Tool Library’s Re:Purpose Fest on Saturday to recycle everything from car seats to books to suitcases with organizers trying to build awareness around how sharing and reusing can be beneficial.

“Our goal is to make people start to think about how they’re purchasing and how they’re using things,” John Dennis of the Tool Library told The Post, explaining that there needs to be awareness around how much energy is used to produce a single item.

Giving an example, Dennis explained that a regular $200 drill is only used for 15 minutes by a consumer and will they will discard it after time because it is not maintained — causing significant waste.

In response, the Tool Library has a system where they have a few drills shared by many people, resulting in less waste and more longevity for the product.

(L) Nancy F. Revie and her co-workers.

The festival featured several vendors recycling VHS tapes, electronics, scrap metal, suitcases, Tupperware and wine corks, among a variety of other tables. There was also food available with a donation to the Tool Library, a group due to become a not-for-profit organization on Aug. 1.

David Bruce and Associates, an agency of event sponsor The Co-operators, were taking in child car seats from the community to recycle, tear down and rebuild into new seats. Those that missed the Re-Purpose Fest are able to drop used vehicle seats off at the agency’s local office at 218 Silvercreek Pkwy North.

Noah Nogueira ran a juggling show and workshop. There was also a live band on hand as attendees milled about Tytler Public School just east of downtown Guelph.


How to reuse

John Dennis, Tool Library co-ordinator, told The Post that his organization considered calling the event “everything you ever wanted to recycle but you didn’t know how”, reflecting what the goal of the event was.

John Dennis on June 29, 2019.

“We want people to think about their purchases and what their consuming and how they’re using things and is there a better way,” he explained, saying he wants to encourage consumers to think about the longevity of an item, what they are going to use it for and for how long.

The big idea, Dennis said, was that the end goal for the Tool Library is to reduce the impacts of climate change and look for more sustainable practices.

Citing a United Nations study, Dennis said that if society moved away from the current state of consumerism that employed an “end-of-use” behaviour — buying a product, using it and then throwing it out — and towards a reuse-focused model, it would have an impact equal to taking every car off the road.

The Re:Purpose Fest is the “fun side” of the organization’s mission, the organizer said, pointing to several partner stakeholders that came together for the festival.

When it comes to politics, Dennis was clear, saying “everyone has a part to play” and that the government is responsible for setting a “direction that we want to take things” in terms of waste and fighting climate change.

“Often that’s done through incentives, that’s done through enforcement. The role of [the Guelph Tool Library] is really to fill in some of the gaps and be there to help people out and be the fun aspect,” Dennis continued.

The co-ordinator sees the Library as “complimentary” to government initiatives in their push to build awareness around what people buy and if they are reusing.

“Maybe instead of all that energy that goes into everyone having a drill that sits on their shelf, get people to do more sharing and then we’ll have less energy used and less waste filling up our landfills.”

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