By Silvia Borges - busy mum of three super active kids and library enthusiast, trying to live a sustainable green life in Brisbane!
It is easy to understand why people love libraries. Having access to a huge collection of books covering a variety of topics and subjects would be extremely hard and expensive for any individual or family to achieve. Luckily, human beings realised this was a problem very early on and libraries were born. In fact, it is believed that libraries are as old as ‘writing’ – about five thousand years! More recently, a new type of library has become popular: the Library of Things, where you can borrow all sorts of fun and useful items like tools, toys, gardening equipment, camping, sports gear and more.
Being a busy family with three primary school aged kids, my partner and I jumped at the opportunity to join Share Shed, Brisbane's first Library of Things, located in Brisbane’s suburb of Salisbury. Here are our main reasons for joining:
1. To teach our kids about sustainability and over-consumption.
Even when you try your best to avoid it, kids – just like adults – are bombarded with advertising. It is not unusual for kids to desire new toys, games and gadgets. And it is tempting for parents and close relatives to spoil their kids with the object of their desire. Nevertheless, most parents will know that the enthusiasm for a new toy or game is often temporary and as the novelty wears off, these objects are destined to be first forgotten, later discarded. Sometimes, unwanted toys may be gifted to friends or to charity, but very often their final destination is landfill. When you borrow a toy from a library of things, such as Share Shed, the lifespan of that objective can be endless – or at least, much longer – as it moves from family to family. This goes a long way in promoting a circular economy and reducing waste.
2. Sharing is Caring – Practice what you preach
Kids can be quite possessive with their favourite things and I am often telling them that ‘sharing is caring’. Libraries - of books and things – are a good example of a shared resource and, for me, it has been a good starting point to practice what I preach. Let’s share more and buy less.
3. Do More, Spend Less
My annual Share Shed membership costs me $80 (discount applies for students and pensioners) and gives me access to hundreds of items – many of which I would never buy due to their very sporadic use. A good example of this is the fairy floss maker: it is a lot of fun to make fairy floss with the kids maybe once a year, but I couldn’t justify buying such a gadget. Home made pasta? Again, not your weekly activity, but borrowing a pasta machine for the occasional family pasta making effort is great and it does my Italian ‘nona’ (grandma) very proud! Other items that I found handy to have access to – but could not justify buying – are: the steam cleaner, the chocolate fountain, the food dehydrator and the projector & screen combo – perfect for backyard movie nights!
4. Access to Lots of Board Games and Puzzles
Getting kids off screens is a common challenge for parents. Like many parents, I too am guilty of letting my kids spend far too much time on their tablets, computer and game devices. Even though we are an outdoors loving family, there is only so much exercise you can do and finding some indoor family entertainment options is always welcome. Share Shed gives us access to puzzles and boardgames which have given us hours of entertainment, fun and learning – research shows that board games teach kids social skills, sportsmanship and problem solving. Win-win!
5. Party Time!
I love a good party that actually has a nice party vibe! Nothing like disco balls, cake stands bunting and light rope to add atmosphere! But what about chairs, tables, glasses? All of the above (and much more) are available at Share Shed and many other Libraries of Things. Whether it's a kid's birthday party or a huge family gathering, being able to organise a fancy party without having to buy things is a big relief.
6. Holidaying, camping and outdoor activities!
When trying out a new hobby, sport or even musical pursuit, it is easy to accumulate things. With three kids, interests can quickly change. I have to admit that our own house is full of such items that take up a lot of space. Share Shed’s motto is “Do More, Own Less”. To know that I have access to things like fishing rods, guitars and kayaks without having to store them at our house or maintain them is very handy.