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Episode 27 Chris Hellawell – Edinburgh Tool Library

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 27 - Chris Hellawell Edinburgh Tool LibraryChris Hellawell is founder and director of Edinburgh Tool Library, which works like a lending library, sharing tools rather than books. 

Chris is passionate about the concept of sharing as a way to tackle the climate crisis, and also as a way to save money, and to build social connections in communities.  By sharing, everyone is richer.

The Edinburgh Tool Library started out as a set of shelves in a spare room. Now it’s a city-wide organisation with multiple sites, including a tool maintenance depot, two wood workshops, a library and a police box.  The Library runs classes, youth programming, skills development for disadvantaged groups, and a volunteer programme transforming community spaces throughout the city. 

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book, includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started.  Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).

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Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.

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About Chris Hellawell 

Chris Hellawell Edinburgh Tool LibraryChris Hellawell is the founder and director of the UK’s first tool library, where tools are shared rather than books.  Chris is passionate about the concept of sharing as a way to tackle the climate crisis, but also as a way to save money, and to build social connection in communities.  By sharing, everyone is richer.

The Edinburgh Tool Library has developed from a set of shelves in a spare room, to a city-wide organisation with multiple sites, incorporating a tool maintenance depot, two wood workshops, a library and a police box.  They run classes, youth programming, skills development in disadvantaged groups, and a volunteer programme transforming community spaces  throughout the city.

 Faced now by financial and logistical challenges from the current health crisis, ETL’s staff and business plan have had to be more nimble than ever to negotiate trying times, whilst still supporting the community it is part of. 


Catherine Weetman  01:00

Welcome to Episode 27. I’m recording this on the 7th of May 2020. Here in the UK, we’re still in lockdown. But our government is planning to announce some relaxation of the stay at home rules. A few more countries are gradually reopening businesses and monitoring the effect on infection rates and so on. We’re hearing more in the press about the kind of future we need to plan for. To ensure we don’t focus our efforts and investments on things we already know are unsustainable. academics, NGOs and business organisations urging governments to invest in renewable energy, in localised manufacture and food systems and in green jobs. Forward Thinking organisations are finding new ways to provide value to their customers and communities. And in this episode, we’re talking to a social enterprise offering a wide range of value adding services to its local community. Today I’m talking to Chris Hellawell, the founder and director of the UK first tool library in Edinburgh. It works like a lending library but shares tools rather than books. Chris is passionate about the concept of sharing as a way to tackle the climate crisis and also as a way to save money and to build social connections in communities. Chris says that by sharing everyone is richer. The Edinburgh tool library started out as a set of shelves in a spare room. Now it’s a city wide organisation with multiple sites, including a tool maintenance depot to woodwork, shops, alive library and a police box. The library runs classes, youth programming, skills development for disadvantaged groups, and a volunteer programme transforming community spaces throughout the city. Chris, welcome to the circular economy podcast, and how’s life in Edinburgh during the Coronavirus lockdown


Chris Hellawell  02:59

Thaks for having me. Life is interesting. It’s very much changed and on a personal level change, but also for the tool library where what sort of suspending our regular activities, but we’re really doing our best to put the assets that we have to use in the community. So we’re getting involved in, in volunteering with some other projects as well. So, so it’s keeping us out of trouble.


Catherine Weetman  03:25

Good stuff. And I’m curious to know, what sparked the idea for the library and led to the set of shelves in the spare room.


Chris Hellawell  03:34

And so it’s, it’s really something that’s kind of inspired from a project over in Canada, right. I spent a couple of years there working and, you know, would would sort of go back to visit friends and pop back for various holidays and things and I saw a similar project while I was out there, but I kind of came in with a, I guess, a sort of social community background and they were very much Hundred percent environmental project and looking at doing equipment sharing, and I can afford actually not that some of the people that I work with on a day to day basis who are looking for work and struggling to you know, sort of make ends meet would would really benefit from from something like this and Edinburgh. And so initially I essentially assumed that it would, it would already exist. So I thought, oh well, I’ll go and join the Edinburgh Tool Library because there must be one. And there wasn’t and I just started looking a little further afield and a little further afield and realised that there wasn’t one in the UK and and somewhat naively thought, Well how hard could it be let’s let’s have a look into this and started and started the the long road to setting one up so and that was 2014-15 when we started with that so it’s it’s been a good wee while getting to this point, but it’s it’s been fun and an opportunity to learn in there. Find out lots of things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know.


Catherine Weetman  05:03

Yeah. And what was the first stage of trying to get it going? was it? Was it looking for funding? Was it finding other people to help you? How did you kind of get it from the first germ of an idea to something that was a startup?


Chris Hellawell  05:19

So it’s interesting Actually, I mean, the principle of it was never really that difficult to get the you know, the general public or anyone I was explaining it to, to get them on board. It’s It’s It’s almost like confirming what they thought a tool library might be, you know, it’s not a exactly a radically radical concept and that the name kind of gives it all away. But what was really tricky at first was because we were the first was kind of getting a charitable designation sorts of passing the test with OSCR who are the charity regulator in Scotland. Because normally if you’re setting up a charity, you’re you’re Essentially copying a model that they already have. So you know, you’re setting up a community cafe. So, you know, the Edinburgh Community Cafe is the same as the Glasgow community cafe, except it’s in Edinburgh. So they know that that’s a model that that sort of work. So it was actually just working with them to sort of explain in language that they were so used to using what we were doing and to sort of explain that we’re not a, you know, a tool rental shop, which I think was their first their first kind of take on what we were trying to trying to do. And that way, it was it was actually a conversation, we had more around semantics. And I got a little bit irritated by them referring to us as as as rentals all the time. And I kind of got to the point where we had a face to face meeting. And I sort of said, Listen, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but can you please stop, you know, talking about renting like, you don’t rent a book from a library, do you?. And, and, and you just I could see the sort of, you know, brain sort of winding back and thinking actually, if I, if I substitute borrow for every time I’ve been thinking rent, and actually I can kind of see how, you know, a library, a traditional library as a as a public service that this this is the same sort of idea. And so that was that was the first big hurdle. And, you know, as soon as we got a charity number, I felt that was really important because people were already trying to support us and trying to donate things. And but I didn’t feel it was right to be accepting donations until and until we got that sort of designation to say, Well, yes, it would be great for you if you could pass on your old kit or you know, any any tools that you don’t need anymore. So


Catherine Weetman  07:46

good stuff. And you started in the police box, I gather.


Chris Hellawell  07:50

Yeah, yeah.


Catherine Weetman  07:52

What did you start with?


Chris Hellawell  07:54

Well, most people, when people ask if the police box is the same size on the inside, is it From the outside. And unfortunately for us, it was exactly how I was as small as it looks. I mean, basically it was it was through necessity. You know, we had a tiny bit of funding, and which would take care of sort of renting it for a few hours a week. But what I really liked about that was as a principle, you know, sort of core principle of the tool library, it’s about maximising the usefulness of things. And so, in using the police box, we were we were only renting it for four hours a week. And you know, the rest of the time, it was being used as a guy cells and Italian nuts there and as a vegan burger shop, sort of setup one day a week. There’s lots of people using lots of different


Catherine Weetman  08:43

so it was like a weekly.


Chris Hellawell  08:45

Yeah, weekly pop up. So we had the software to be able to allow people to book the tools that they needed. So obviously, we weren’t taking hundreds of tools every weekend, we would take in the things that people want to borrow You know, when we first started out, and there wasn’t, you know, hundreds of bookings, that was fine. And that becomes more and more of a challenge when people aren’t, you know, the students, our tools going out if we became that, that no request several people in a cart, but you know, they’re in the early days, it was a couple of big tool bags, and maybe maybe the extra journey, but it was it was going from my spare room where I’m speaking to you from now. So that’s not a full circle. So what tools did sorry, what did you say? I think the back backwards or bigger, where it all began? Yeah.


Catherine Weetman  09:36

And what kind of tools did you start with? What were the essentials?


Chris Hellawell  09:41

And we were really lucky Actually, there was a a guy who made em bespoke tree houses for kids who met presumably lovely American lady and decided to move to America to get married and essentially left us his workshop with Essentially one of everything. So that was that was really fortuitous in terms of, you know, the equipment that we had. So we started with, you know, gardening tools, but also woodworking and you know, spanners, machine repair, and you know, things from fixing cars. And, you know, painting and decorating stuff with the real. I guess one of the messages to take away is that the tools already exists, you know, that people have things that they’re not putting to maximum use. And that’s what the two library and sharing libraries are really all about. It’s about getting things into people’s hands that often people don’t need to actually own because, you know, there’s a there’s a financial cost of ownership, and there’s a cost of maintenance as a cost of storage and there’s obviously an environmental cost. So, so


Catherine Weetman  10:54

if I if I was local, then I decided I wasn’t using my mountain bike maintenance tools? Yeah, do I need to donate them to the library? Or can I lend them to the library and kind of have priority access? How does it How does it work? Or do I just kind of relinquish,


Chris Hellawell  11:12

you relinquish all all claims to them? Well, it’s quite a common question actually. Um, but what God says, you know, if, if someone is, is wondering whether or not they’re going to need to use them, and, you know, particularly now we’re in a position where we have most things, at least one version of them. And so we’re quite happy to say, look, if, if it’s a quandary, then then you by all means hang on to them. And, you know, maybe in six months, I think about it again, and but once once they donate it to us, they belong to the, to library as a as an organisation to them to the members. So, and we do offer and particularly in the early days, we were keen to get our inventory off. So we did say, you know, as long as you’re offering more than anything, a tool that’s, that’s worth the price of a membership, and then we’ll give you a free membership to kind of encourage those numbers. And, you know, now we’re in a position where we have a lot of tools so so and you know where we can we can take donations to pass on to others often, or if they’re upgrades of what we have, in terms of numbers of tools will work pretty well stocked at the moment.


Catherine Weetman  12:20

So is there a Is there a charge to be a member of the library? How How does the cost of maintaining tools and things like that How does that all work?


Chris Hellawell  12:28

Yeah, so we have we have essentially two two prices so we have a 10 pounds for on wage and people on benefits. And we also work with a lot of charities to sort of refer people over so if that’s a problematic and costs we can arrange for free memberships. We’re actually as as part of the COVID-19 way of thing Thank you actually started a campaign where we got to give free membership to NHS staff and Edinburgh. And as you know, they come along and show their badges and Just as a way of us being able to offer something that we that we can, and, you know, it’s our way of saying thank you, and it’s something that we have in abundance. So and, you know, that’s, that’s sort of an option for us whenever anybody comes and says, Look, 10 pounds is more than enough, I’ve got in the bank or or, you know, perhaps this, this money is, or this, these tools would help me earn some money so that I can maybe give back in the future. And that happens quite a lot. And the standards standard cost us 30 pounds for the year. And and then we a lot of people choose to sort of pay it forward. So they’ll go buy a membership for themselves. So you know, and we’ll plan that one for somebody else. So that obviously helps with with our running costs.


Catherine Weetman  13:46

So that pays for running the facilities and maintenance and do you have any other big costs, or is it is it all volunteers? Or?


Chris Hellawell  13:55

that’s so so basically, the interesting thing about the tool library is the model is very flexible. So we have the main costs that come out of the membership or for the rental of space, insurance. We have a van that we, an electric fan that that goes to pick things up and deliver stuff and, and helps with a lot of our m volunteer projects are taking, you know, materials to various locations for volunteer builds. And, and we do have three, three staff, but they’re they’re associated more with particular programmes that we run. And so so they would, it would depend on on that sort of grant programme, and particularly if you’re teaching groups or working with particular, and disadvantaged people to sort of teach skills or you know, build confidence in that community.


Catherine Weetman  14:51

Because during the intro, I was listing some of the projects that you that the libraries involved in. So you’re running classes, youth programming, Skills Development for disadvantaged groups and a volunteer programme. So quite a variety of of stuff already. So perhaps you could tell us a little bit about some of those.


Chris Hellawell  15:09

Yeah, sure. So I mean, I could, I could talk for hours about them, but I don’t think there’s that long. And I’ll just tell you about a couple of the two that I think I really am. So the kind of the power in a community looking out for itself or looking out for each other. And we’ve got a really great project, which is funded by the Volant Trust, which I think is connected to JK Rowling, and so it’s part of a trust fund that she set up, and it’s particularly for a women’s project. So we have a project where we work with groups that are supporting women who have been either victims of domestic abuse or lacking confidence or long term unemployed and we take small groups and that Work with female woodwork tutors. And they spend five weeks of bi-weekly sessions, building something for themselves. And then they spend three weeks building something cooperatively for the community group that they come from so and so it might be a garden project for that community. And you know, the park benches, things like that. So they build skills that build confidence. And I think what’s particularly powerful about that is when it’s people who have perhaps been told that their value is less than than it really is, and it’s a great way of them thinking, you know what, I can do this and i and i don’t need anybody’s permission. And that’s, that’s something that I’m incredibly proud of. And, you know, we’ve we’ve been doing for two or three groups now and we’ve got another sort of when this is all finished with Coronavirus. We’ve got about seven or eight groups and we’re we’ll be working with one doctor to take that on. And then we also have a fantastic. One of the amazing things about the two areas that we create so many opportunities for volunteers. So there’s the delivery of the services, the librarians, the, the workshop volunteers. And but also we, we recognise that, you know, volunteering every, every Wednesday night or every Saturday afternoon isn’t necessarily fit with everybody’s sort of lifestyle or balance of work and downtime. So we have usually around six projects a year, where other community groups, charities, schools, come and suggest an idea that our volunteers can support them with and and then the volunteers, we facilitate the volunteers and project managing that and developing, you know, designs, plans, sourcing materials, working out what tools they need, making sure all the health and safety and you know, the kind of risk assessments are all ready for that. But then but then still, it’s still led by the volunteers with support from staff and, and then it’s usually over the course of a weekend or a couple of weekends. And there’ll be between 10 and 20-30 people and going out volunteering, building things for we’ve, we built a small vegetable shop and kind of potting shed. And we’ve built the one we’re working on when this is all stopped with rebuilding a pirate ship that was torched by some arsonists at primary school. So we we’ve been ripping all that out and rebuilding it, and we’ve done outdoor kitchens for primary schools or mud kitchens, sand pits, you know, all that kind of stuff. And, and that’s really great because it connects us with other groups that are, you know, have a similar sensibility. We think that you know, that community work and doing things together rather than having them done for them is more important. I think I think particularly what I really like about the school’s projects is and like it’s, you know, it’s very rewarding, seeing good getting pictures from kids of them playing in the sandpit. But I think what’s more important is those kids understand that all of that material was reused. It wasn’t. It wasn’t built for that particular reason we had, when we did, the project I’m talking about was just after the Edinburgh festival. And we went to the organisers of the Edinburgh Festival and said, Look, any materials you have, will take them so everything that they see in that playground was actually part of the staging from the surface. So we have, you know, there was all sorts of astroturf and sheets of material. And so it’s the you know, that these kind of four or five year old kids understand that that used to be something else and it wasn’t wasted and there’s value in reusing things.


Catherine Weetman  19:53

Yeah, and not, not everything comes flat packed from a shop


Chris Hellawell  19:59

from a Swedish shop.


Catherine Weetman  20:00

Yeah, exactly. And so it sounds like a lot of the focus is on teaching people skills. So it’s not just, if you know how to do this, you can borrow a tool and save yourself some money and save yourself time in working out where were you going to hire one from? But you’re helping people build lifelong skills as well.


Chris Hellawell  20:22

Absolutely, yeah. I think that’s, and for a variety of reasons, I think it’s really important to, to understand that living a less footprint-heavy life is not as difficult as, as you know, it might appear and then having the volunteers there, and we’re very honest with with our members, you know, if we don’t know how to do it, we’ll say that we’ll you know, but we’ll say let’s, let’s find out together, like you know, if you’re not sure about how to use this tool, let’s let us show you before you take it away, and, and it’s and it’s I think for adults, I think it’s a really valuable lesson to learn about being vulnerable and admitting that you don’t know something and that’s often a, an issue that we have with blokes, basically. You know, there’s a sort of assumption that because I am male, I should know this and, and often that’s, that’s to do with  all sorts of assumptions that they’re making about themselves. But, but it’s about saying, well, it’s okay. But you know, , I didn’t know anything when I started this. I’m not from a trades background, I don’t, you know, I’ve learned everything over the years. And it’s just about saying, look, what, you know, and what you don’t know, we’ll work it out. And, and that’s, that’s the beauty of tools. It’s about making your job easier. And that’s a really nice way of, of being cross-cultural and, and, you know, working across various demographics is, wherever anyone’s from and whatever background they have whatever, you know, if you Want to call it class? there? Everybody understands the merit of a tool in making a job that’s difficult with your bare hands much more easy. Yeah.


Catherine Weetman  22:10

And the pride of having fixed something rather than having to absolutely like over though I did notice from your on your bio that there was something about you could fix anything with superglue and gaffer tape and I was thinking, hmm, I’ll be letting you anywhere near my mountain bike!


Chris Hellawell  22:26

Don’t ask me to do your plumbing or your electrics!


Catherine Weetman  22:31

So yeah, I guess you could add add Sugru to the list of miracle fix-it materials


Chris Hellawell  22:39

Oh, it’s valuable stuff.


Catherine Weetman  22:42

So were there any other major challenges in getting it going, besides working with a charity,


Chris Hellawell  22:50

I think doing anything, you know, for the first time on anything new, it’s kind of them. That was quite interesting because I sort of touched on before a lot of a lot of our work as volunteers, when we first talked to people about it is not explaining it. It’s it’s confirming that what they suspected is, but I think because it’s such a basic idea that people kind of think, well, well, if it was just a library, but it was tools, then that seems really simple. And this probably would have already exists, it must be something more complex than that. And so actually, a lot of spending time is going right. What do you think it is? Yep, that’s exactly what it is. And it’s this and it’s this cheap, and you know, there’s no catches and we’re a charity and we’re trying to, you know, get people making and working as a community. And so a lot of it’s kind of almost working against people sort of slightly, glass half empty, underlying, and saying, No, it’s not, it’s not a con it’s not not too good to be true. It’s a good thing and it’s on your doorstep, hopefully, you know, at least nearby


Catherine Weetman  23:57

and how’s the demographic of your borrowers? Has that changed over time. What kind of people come and borrow?


Chris Hellawell  24:03

Yes. Yeah, it’s so interesting, actually. So So I mean, if we if we just look at gender demographics, when we first started, there was definitely the majority men sort of, you know, sort of two thirds to a third. But we did notice that as we kind of got a little bit older, and I think people got used to the idea that the gender balance and membership was all it’s now almost 50/50. It’s slightly, slightly more men, but but, you know, 50 to four years, something like that. And what we did notice, when we opened workshops, we, the workshops were sort of later than they come in sort of 2018 and that it was mostly guys that were coming into the workshop. So we sort of, you know, that was, I guess anecdotally noticed it but we did, then keep an eye on it, and it was, you know, sort of two and 10 and You know, 20% of women and 80% guys, so we sort of looked at well, well, you know, what might be the reasoning behind that. And so we specifically went out and found some female woodworkers to lead lead the workshop, so be the first person that they see. And, we sort of started, you know, being very conscious about the messaging when we’re putting out social media posts, things like that. And I think, particularly since we started doing instructional talk classes, and they are the majority women, and because of that, you know, there’s the confidence being built, we’re seeing the general imbalance in our sort of open workshops which are, you know, sort of drop-in so there’s definitely a much higher proportion of women and that. They’re still still more more guys than women. And but we have we’ve started a specific women only group every Friday night, you know, to try and try and sort of balance that out in the in the general membership and I think It is a it’s a legacy of, you know, the ways the way the things are taught in schools and, and you know, the the guys go in and the lads go and do woodwork and metalwork and then the girls, you know, went to do sewing in home economics. And I think, you know, that has changed now but we’re yet to see them as adults. And that sort of generation get to be on membership. So and So yeah. So so that that’s kind of how we’re trying to turn it when we’re not there yet. And, you know, I think until we have a membership that perfectly reflects the community we’re in, you know, we need to keep working this there’s definitely where we’re based in Leith. There’s a very international, you know, people from all over the world, this largest European population and a large Spanish population. I think we’re probably reaching about the right number of Spanish people but with that we are under represented by an Eastern European community. And you know, where We’re working with some, some of the groups that support them in various different ways to try and get the word out there. So, you know, we’re, we’re trying and we’re going in the right direction, but we’re not perfect.


Catherine Weetman  27:13

Sounds like you’ve got all sorts of ideas for how to engage different elements within the community and you know, how to do things that just encourage people to get that get their minds around the idea of making stuff and mending stuff, which is brilliant.


Chris Hellawell  27:30

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, I think that’s really important. And I think what what really the kind of, you know, we generally operate little sort of three hour sessions, so whether it’s a library session or a workshop session, and the things where I really think, you know, this is if I could listen, you know, the essence of what the to labour is, is when you go in, and there was one one particular day I could think of and I went into the workshop, and there was and 20 students – an Italian, a Spaniard three very local, like born across the road, ‘Leithers’ and and a Syrian refugee. So we have a an arrangement with the council. So we give free memberships to ??? from Syria so and they were all we we sort of stop everybody halfway through and make everybody make everybody drink tea and just to kind of build some conversation and and talk about projects and things. And I was just like this is this is this is what we want to bottle this is this is the essence of what it is because you’ve got people from all over the world. And the thing that’s bringing them together is what they’re making and doing things with the hands. It’s got nothing to do with, you know where you’re from, you know who you are, what my assumptions are about your background. It’s about all what what are you making that Tell me about that? And I think that’s that’s the real power of a community workshop like this.


Catherine Weetman  28:52

Yeah, I think you’re right. I think finding out what you’ve got in common with people from completely different backgrounds is a really an essential bridge isn’t it to then kind of then wanting to know more about that person and letting go of some of your, you know, prejudices that you might not have even realised, you were holding on to so, it’s really powerful. So, in terms of the, the journey so far, what would your top tip be for any anybody aspiring to either start their own tool library or another kind of circular economy enterprise?


Chris Hellawell  29:27

I mean, I think the biggest tip is that the the folks that are already out there doing it, you know, and there’s already a UK, you know, it’s very tentative, but there’s a UK network of sharing libraries, and the very essence of sharing, you know, the people are open to help them, you know, people are willing to pass on their tips to, you know, to sort of show you around and, and I think it’s really not to try and it’s achievable that somebody wants to just get out and do it that way. But we’ll make all sorts of mistakes that, that I or you know, one of the other tool libraries have already made. And, and we would rather you, you know, you came to us and said, This is what, you know, what should I do? How do I, what insurance company do I need to speak to, you know, how do I, how do I do a constitution for charity, you know, this, because we’ve already done that we’ve already written it, we’ve already got the paperwork, like don’t don’t spend hours. It’s very boring. Don’t do that. Spend some time with your family, drop me an email. And, you know, we’re all very open to support each other. It’s a really nice community, I think, the COVID-19 crisis, because it’s affecting everybody around the world. What was one of the few positives to come out of it is, particularly in this sharing community, is is that the fact that you know, it’s as much hassle to for me to speak to one of one of the members of staff around the corner as it is to speak to somebody running the Tool Library in Baltimore or, or Gene who runs the database that I’m, that we’re all on and which is called my turn, I’m speaking to him tonight. And that’s as much hassle as it is to contact and somebody who worked for the library. So, so actually, there’s way more collaboration happening right now. And, you know, we’re preparing documents to, to share amongst each other about well, when we come to open up, how do we and what what procedures to be put in place to make sure that people have confidence in and, you know, in the in the steps that we’re taking to keep these tools clean, because you know, there will there’s a, it’s going to be a very delicate time to know people are going to be cautious about sharing things naturally. And what we want to do is just have the right messaging to say, look, we’re not just taking about one person’s hand that we don’t know where it’s been, they’re going to be cleaned, they’re going to have a time sitting in a in a room for anything on them to die or, you know, we need to be very clear about that. But Again, we could all come to the same conclusions. And we’ll probably have the same policies and procedures. But if we as a group all work together, then we can do different bits and help each other. It’s very collaborative.


Catherine Weetman  32:11

sounds brilliant. So not only sharing tools, and sharing instructions on how to do things, but sharing knowledge and wisdom gains along the way, brilliant. And who would you recommend Chris as a future guest for the programme to inspire people about sustainability and circular economy.


Chris Hellawell  32:32

And so I’ve been reading a book by Catherine Trebeck and which is called the Economics of Arrival, which I found really interesting, which is kind of based on the analogy of capitalism as a flight taking off and the sort of the trajectory trajectory that they want in the economy to go in but but without the the planning of without thinking, Well, every flight has a destination You know, that plane is gonna land somewhere. And so it’s asking a lot of sometimes slightly uncomfortable questions about well, you know, when, where, where is where is our destination? And what what is? What does fare look like? And how do we make sure everybody’s on board with us? And I think, you know, the economy has a huge part to play in that.


Catherine Weetman  33:24

Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll look up Catherine Trebeck and the Economics of Arrival, we’ll put the link in the show notes as well. And, Chris, how can people find out more about you and they Edinburgh Tool Library, and get in touch?


Chris Hellawell  33:38

Well, another advantage of or another slightly upside of the COVID-19 crisis is that we’ve had enough time to spend and finally finish our fancy new website. So they can go to www dot where there’s a bit more information on our programmes and things that we do. We’re also on all the social media platforms. So Twitter is EdinToolLibrary. And Instagram is EdinburghToolLibrary and Facebook, just search Edinburgh Tool library and get in touch.


Catherine Weetman  34:13

Brilliant. That’s great. Well, thank you very much, Chris for telling us all well not all about it telling us a little bit about the ad embrittle library and all the brilliant programmes that you’re running. And I wish you all the best of luck in rebounding quickly after Coronavirus and the lockdown finishes, and I’m sure you’ll go from strength to strength. Thank you very much.


Chris Hellawell  34:34

Thanks so much.


Catherine Weetman  34:36

I love how the Edinburgh Tool Library is finding so many ways to help people live better lives. People save money by borrowing tools instead of buying them and people learn new skills that could be a foundation to a new career. The library builds social connections on many levels, those enjoyable chats with a volunteer when you’re borrowing the tool a much more effective Then spending ages traipsing around that out of town, soulless DIY Depot. The Library Services open up conversations with people of completely different backgrounds. What’s more, it’s helping communities do good things for themselves. Like the school pirate ship, Chris told us about it showing people how to save money to repurpose resources instead of contributing to consumption and waste, and to encourage the creativity inside all of us. Learning how to mend make things builds confidence, and those conversations about what we’ve done, what worked and what didn’t all help to connect us. Those experiences become part of our story, part of what we value. The Edinburgh Tool Library enriches lives in many ways. Standing in the queue at the DIY store can’t match it.

Want to find out more about the circular economy?

If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy and how it could help your business, why not listen to Episode 1, or read our guide: What is the Circular Economy

To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach.  It includes lots of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us a Tweet: @Rethink _Global.

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

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