The Gold Coast goes circular with new tool sharing service

The Gold Coast goes circular with new tool sharing service

By Lucy Jones  October 16th, 2020

The city’s first tool library is building community around sustainable consumption habits.


What does practical circular economy action look like? In the lead up to the launch of Planet Ark’s Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub), we are sharing inspiring stories from the individuals, businesses and community groups that are implementing circular economy principles in Australia.

Reuse has an important role to play in the circular economy. From designing products so that materials can be used again and again, to sharing the millions of commodities that are already in circulation.

In recent years, tool libraries have been popping up all around the world to help communities consume less, reduce waste and save money. For the small fee of a library membership, tool libraries give members access to a huge range of useful items.

If you’re living on the Gold Coast, you’ll soon be able to rent surfboards, guitars and drills through the city’s first tool library which officially launches later this year. We sat down with David Paynter, the man behind the Gold Coast Tool Library, to talk about how this circular community hub is propelling the city into the 21st century.

Who are you and what does your organisation do?

“My name is David Paynter, I'm the founder of the Gold Coast Tool Library. It's been a passion project of mine to reduce waste in the community and the embodied energy and carbon footprint of the items that we consume. A good way of [doing] that, with circular economy principles, is to design out waste from the beginning. We decided to design out the actual purchase of items: why buy when you could borrow?

By sharing our resources within our community, we cut down a lot on the carbon footprint of a city. [We also] reactivate dormant goods which are sitting there in people's cupboards, sheds and garages doing nothing, gathering dust, cluttering up the place, where they could be better put into use by sharing through the community.”

What problem/opportunity did you identify within the linear economy?

“The Gold Coast is Australia's second largest council. The Gold Coast is [home to around] 600,000 people and we've got one council — we're 57 kilometres from north to south, a big long strip up the coast. The Gold Coast also has quite a number of international students, who might be here for 1-3 yeas. A lot of people come and go in transient ways and they don't necessarily want to, or have the space or the money to, buy everything because they may only be here for a work contract or for a study period. I looked around at other cities and they've got really good tool libraries, not just in Australia, but international cities as well and they've been really successful for a long time.

As well as that, just the general over-consumptive nature of our community. We needed to look at a way to try and help people and put a really easy, single-step solution in front of them that's like, ‘Right, I just go and join the tool library and then I can borrow all these things that I need and cut down on my consumption’.”

What goals did you set in order to build a circular solution?

“Well, the first goal is: get the first venue up and running. And then, engage with as many members of that community region as possible to get them on board and get them to understand the whole principle of circularity — what we're doing here and the environmental benefits of it.

Also, the benefits to community because, like all not-for-profit spaces, they are community building hubs. People might get involved in any form of community group because they have an interest in what they represent, but quite often you find they stay because they find a tribe of like-minded people. They are there because they are sharing friendship, sharing cultures, sharing stories, engaging with people in a meaningful way. So that is very much a big goal of ours, to build this thriving collaborative community hub around sharing, repair and making.”

This is a sneak peak of a case study that will be featured on the ACE Hub website when it launches on November 24 — follow our ACE Hub communications to read the full story and to stay up to date with other developments of the Hub.

The ACE Hub officially launches with an online event that will be live broadcast from the Sydney Opera House on November 24. Join us for a morning of talks from some of the brightest minds in the Australian and international Circular Economy space. Head here for more information and to secure your ticket.


Positive Actions

Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

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