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The Crow’s Nest


Welcome to the first episode of The Crow’s Nest. It’s finally here! I’m not going to lie; it was not easy. I never really thought I’d be seriously making a podcast. I’ve joked about it with friends, and thought about how fun it would be to have someone at my auditory mercy for 40 minutes, but I never thought I’d actually do it.

Even after it became part of my contract for the Guelph Tool Library to design and start this podcast, I didn’t think I’d actually do it. When I was learning all the essentials of interviewing and recording and editing and publishing and advertising and invoicing and procedure writing that’s required when beginning a project like this for a non-profit, and crying the entire time because I had no idea what I was doing, I definitely didn’t think I’d actually do it. But I did, and here it is.

I thought it would be important to start at home. Not everyone knows what a tool library is. In fact, except those really involved in them, most people outside the membership circle tend not to know what a tool library is. And honestly? That’s an incredible shame for them. I can’t imagine going through my life without the support and resources that the GTL (Guelph Tool Library, for those not in the know) has provided me with. I take out thousands and thousands of dollars worth in tools and equipment every year for $40. I attend workshops on building spice racks, foraging, mending my clothes, making sourdough bread, and beeswax wraps. The GTL has been a source of knowledge, entertainment and inspiration for me. I hope I can pass that on to you through The Crow’s Nest.

Listen here:

The opinions expressed in this podcast, and all episodes of The Crow’s Nest, are those of the author, Thirza Armstrong, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Guelph Tool Library, their Board of Directors, or the Coordinator Team.

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Guelph Tool Library to Temporarily Close

Guelph Tool Library to temporarily close amid COVID-19 Concerns

for a minimum period of three weeks, amid current COVID-19 concerns. As the GTL operates on Upper Grand District School Board property, the facility is subject to the same rules and regulations regarding closures as all publicly funded schools in Ontario.

Effective Friday, March 13th at 6 pm, the Guelph Tool Library will undergo a temporary closure that is expected to extend until Monday, April 6th. Items that are currently signed out can be returned on Friday, March 13th during regular operating hours. Late fees will not accrue during this temporary closure, but will be reinstated when the Guelph Tool Library reopens.

Outgoing loans can be processed on March 13th, and will not be subject to late fees until the Guelph Tool Library reopens upon approval from the Upper Grand District Schoolboard. GTL staff will continue to monitor the situation and will update their members as new information regarding the closure becomes available. All on-site programs at the Guelph Tool Library are currently postponed. Ticket holders for any upcoming workshops will be refunded or given the option to put their current ticket towards a future event. Our appearance at the eMerge Guelph Eco Market will be rescheduled.


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Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner, and that gets many of us thinking about Spring Cleaning. For some individuals, this means a deep clean of the whole house, inside and out. For others, it’s as simple as packing away the bulky boots and coats, and swapping them for sun hats and shorts. Most of us are somewhere in the middle when it comes to getting our living spaces ready for spring. There’s one thing that inevitably comes along with a spring clean, and that’s our excess clutter getting an eviction notice. Often, our undesirable stuff gets sent to the bin, but a good chunk of that trash might be treasure to another person, organization, or alternative recycling facility. 


If you’re looking to get started on a de-cluttering journey, the thing you’ll need most of is time! Set aside a weekend that you (and anyone else who lives with you) can go through your home, room-by-room. 

Begin by separating items in to 4 main sections (Re-home, Discard, Repair, and Keep), and use the guide below to ask yourself some questions about each item. 

Re-Home: You might not wear that mink coat anymore, but an orphaned animal living in a humane society or rehab facility may find cozy comfort in that forgotten furry fashion. When an item has lost its frequency of use or value to you, that doesn’t mean it’s useless! If you attended Re:Purposefest last year, you know that there are dozens of local organizations that can reuse the household items you may no longer find value in. Our Re:Purposefest event will be coming up again this summer, so you may want to hold on to some of that clutter a little longer if you have somewhere to store it. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more updates about Re:Purposefest 2020. 


If you’re not in the position to hold on to your unwanted goods, there are plenty of organizations who can take your items year-round. 

  • The Guelph Tool Library – Our library thrives off of donations of unwanted household items. Over 95% of our 900+ tool and appliance inventory has been donated. Do you have an unwanted (but working) tool or appliance? We would love to have it and share it with our members. 
  • Palz Trading Zone – The barter system is alive and well on this cashless trading platform. If your closet cleanout leaves you lacking in items you need, with a surplus of items you’d like to unload, try trading them with others! Groups are geared to specific cities or areas, and some groups host meetups and community events.
  • Craft SuppliesThe Creation Station is a local initiative for exploring art.  We are collecting arts and crafts materials. 
  • Sheets and Towels – GENTLY USED – Fleece blankets, towels, flat sheets, knitted blankets, baby blankets can be donated to the Guelph Humane Society.  
  • Clothing and Housewares – There are several local thrift stores, consignment shops, and community clothing closets that are willing to take your items that are clean, intact, and in good condition. If your items are not usable or wearable, check out some of the resources below to find the best place to dispose of or recycle your goods. 


Discard – Discarding an item isn’t limited to landfill. Many items can be recycled or reused through alternative programs, and there are a number of collection spots locally or within a reasonable distance. 

  • Guelph Tool Library – We also collect additional items for recycling or reuse:
        • Cell Phones – The GTL collects cell phones for the Toronto Zoo Phone Apes program 
        • Eye Glasses – If you have spare pairs of eyeglasses, we collect them on behalf of the Lions Club of Guelph
        • Batteries – We collect dead batteries on behalf of The City of Guelph, or they can be brought to the Waste Resource Innovation Centre.
  • Markers and Pens – Through in-store collection at over 300 locations across Canada, Staples Canada and Terracycle have successfully diverted over 2 million writing instruments from ending up in landfills.
  • Terracycle –  There are a variety of items that Terracycle accepts through a combination of free and paid recycling programs. Check out their website to see all of their programs
  • Mascara and Makeup WandsProject Wild Wands Canada collects old mascara and makeup wands and sends them to wildlife rehabilitation centres across Canada. 
  • CrayonsCrazy Crayons takes unwanted, rejected, broken crayons to a better place, where they will be recycled into new crayons! 
  • City of Guelph – The Waste Resource Innovation Centre has programs for recycling paint, bicycles, electronic waste, and so much more. The Waste Wizard is also a great resource for helping us determine which bin our waste goes in. 


Repair – For those items you’re not ready to let go of, or you’d like to donate/trade once they are in working condition, repairing is a great way to avoid excess waste. 

  • Repair Cafe – Repair Cafe events are part of an international movement. The Guelph Tool Library hosts Repair Cafes 6 times per year in locations throughout Guelph. Our next event is a mini Repair Cafe, coming up Monday, March 16th at Royal City Brewery from 6 to 8 pm. 
  • Take a Class or Workshop – The Guelph Tool Library offers ongoing workshops in clothing repair, cell phone repair, knife sharpening, and more. Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events to stay in the loop. 
  • Teach Yourself – The Internet is home to limitless resources for repair, including blog posts, sites like Instructables, and for more visual learners, YouTube videos can help you learn everything from electronics repair, to how to darn socks

Keep – When deciding what to keep in a declutter, there are many questions you need to ask yourself. Some methods, like KonMari, tap in to the psychology of clutter, and why we keep the things that we do. 

A few basic things to ask yourself:

Is this item frequently used? Decluttering isn’t necessarily the time to replace your frequently used, functional items. However, it is a great time to take stock of what you have, and to see the last time you used it. Decluttering experts suggest hanging up your clothes with the hanger hook facing all one way. When you take out an item and hang it back up after you wear it, flip the direction of the hanger hook. That way, when you are doing a seasonal declutter, you can see what items you have worn, and what items you have ignored. It is then easier to assess which things you can get rid of. Similar methods could be used for books, kitchen gadgets, and tools. Once you are aware of which items you use, you can decide what things you’d like to keep. It helps to get family members or roommates involved in a declutter as well, as you may not know the significance of each item, or how often it is used. 

Does it have a space in my place? If you are finding a number of items that don’t have a ‘home’, look in to storage solutions that suit your needs, or consider if the item is worth keeping, based on usage level, replacement value, and size. 

What is the replacement value? If it is an item you haven’t used in a long time, but you think you would use again, consider what it would cost to replace the item, or how difficult it would be to find again. Value can also apply to factors that aren’t monetary, such as sentimental or historical value. Try to limit these items when possible, or find the appropriate storage or display to honour and appreciate these special pieces in your collection. 

As you’re working on your spring clean, remember that the Guelph Tool Library carries a number of items to help you stay on track, such as an electronics repair kit, a number of sewing machines, several vacuums and shop-vacs, and even a window washing kit.

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Where do you get your tools?









One of the first questions that I am asked about the Guelph Tool Library (GTL) is “what tools do you have?”.  That is usually followed up by “where do they come from?”. 

The first question is easy to answer, “more than you might expect!”.  We have over 800 items in inventory and about 300 more smaller accessories.  We have everything from table saws and rototillers to kitchen appliances and craft items.  Smaller accessories such as individual drill bits and saw blades usually don’t make it into the inventory system.  The best way to find out what we have is to go to our MyTurn site or just come in and look around.

The second question is a bit more complicated but speaks to how we operate the Guelph Tool Library.  One of our goals is to keep items out of the landfill, so most of our items are secondhand and have been donated.  We average one or two donations a week which could be anything from a single item to a car load of tools. We estimate that about 90% of our inventory is donated. 

The source of donations is almost as varied as the types of donations.  We have people donate tools that they used for a special project and now no longer need.  After all, you can only tile your bathroom so many times! Also, we receive items from people that are moving away or downsizing to a smaller residence.  Large donations often come from estates with families and friends pleased to know that a loved ones tools are going to be used and cherished. We do pick ups and some of our most popular items have come from estate donations.

When a donation arrives at the GTL a few things happen with it.  Each donation is examined for defects, tested, and if we decide to loan it out, put into inventory.  Not everything that comes to us goes into inventory. We have a list of items that we want and items that we don’t accept posted on our website and social media.

Also, before putting something into our inventory we consider if the item is portable, will it stand up to lots of use, and if it is in safe condition.  We do a lot of replacement of power cords which often come to us damaged and taped up. One of our biggest challenges is maintaining older tools as parts are often no longer available.  Most of this work is done on Thursday nights which is our fixing night.

The balance of the donations are purchased.  We spend about $2000 a year on new tools which are purchased locally if possible.  The money comes from memberships, grants, and special campaigns. Some of the items that have been purchased include our button maker, cider press, and Cricut printer.

We also use the feedback that we get from our members to decide what we will purchase.  If someone asks us about a tool we don’t have, we will consider purchasing it. We recently purchased an Oscillating Multi Tool after such a request.  

Finally, the management of our tools would not be possible without our wonderful volunteers.  They are the ones collecting, fixing, and putting our items into the inventory system. To get an item from a “donation” to be “ready to loan” usually takes about 30 minutes.  If you are interested in helping us out please consider sending us an email at or dropping by to talk with a librarian.

John Dennis, Tool Fixer and GTL Coordinator  (Jan 6, 2020)

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Zero Waste Festival – Frequently Asked Questions, and more!


The first ever Zero Waste Festival is less than one week away!

We are incredibly thrilled to be putting on the first ever Zero Waste Festival in Guelph, Ontario! As the recipients of a 2018 Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant, we have been privileged to offer a whole year of exciting and engaging workshops and sessions with a focus on low-waste living and sustainable practices. These workshops have been held in our tool library, and at offsite spaces like the Guelph Farmer’s Market, the Guelph Public Library, 10C Shared space, and even in the neighborhood tent at Hillside Festival. The Zero Waste Festival came together as a way of culminating what we have learned and shared, and presenting is to as many community members as possible, at a thrilling one-day event.

If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, head on over to Eventbrite, and let us know you’re coming. The day will boast a jam-packed schedule of repairing, sharing, and learning at a whole host of ticketed and drop-in events.

Got more questions? Check our FAQ Section!


What are the festival hours?

The Zero Waste Festival will open to the public at 10 am, and will remain open until 5 pm. The lobby will open for registration purposes at 9:45 am, to allow guests to confirm the time and location of any workshops or sessions they are attending. 

The Repair Cafe will run from 10 am-1pm, and the CSA Bike Centre Repair Station (located outside) will run from 10 am-2pm.

Is the Zero Waste Festival Free? 

The event is by donation. There is no cost to attend the vendor fair, or any other events taking place in the outdoor areas, or in the arena, including drop-in workshops, or the Repair Cafe.  Donations will always be happily accepted by our volunteers (look for the bright green aprons!). Ticketed workshops are by donation, and should be purchased ahead of time to ensure adequate space is available. 

What’s the difference between “ticketed” and “drop-in” sessions?

Ticketed events have a limited number of spaces available per session. Pre-registration for these events is required, with admission by donation via Eventbrite, or in person at the Guelph Tool Library during our regular hours. Guests are asked to make a contribution in exchange for a ticket (suggested donation of $5-$15). This helps cover the cost of the workshops held for this event, and any additional funds acquired will aid our workshop budget in the upcoming fiscal year. Any remaining spots for these classes will be available first come, first serve on August 10th at the Guest Services table, located at the main entrance.

Drop-in sessions take place in the arena, and pre-registration is not required. Guests are accepted on a first-come, first serve basis, and all workshops are while quantities last.

How do I sign up for a ticketed workshop or talk?

When you select an Early Bird Ticket ($25), Golden Ticket ($35) or single workshop or talk (by donation) on Eventbrite, you will be sent a survey to fill out with the session(s) of your choice. Please fill one out for each registrant in your party. In the days before the festival, we will send out itineraries to each attendee – check your spam folder for any incoming communications from our festival organizers. We will also inform everyone if any workshops or sessions become more than 90% sold out. 

Do I need to print my ticket?

No! In an effort to keep this event as low-waste as possible, please don’t print your ticket. You can download your e-tickets and schedule to your phone if you are bringing one. All attendees for ticketed sessions should check in at Guest Services, right at the upper-level main entrance to verify the time and location of the session. Site maps and schedules will be available on-site, printed on rescued paper!

What should I bring?

Guests should bring their reusable water bottles (no packaged water will be sold on site). The Water Wagon will be located outside offering free water refills, and there are water fountains located in the arena, and on the lower level. Please also remember to bring a reusable bag to take home your purchases and projects, and reusable containers for food and bulk refill purchases. We will have spare containers for bulk refill available if you’re looking to start your own Zero Waste home. All food vendors are provided with reusable dishes, cutlery, and cups (generously offered from Hillside Festival). We have four food vendors on offer, but it’s always a good idea to pack some snacks or a picnic. There are plenty of spaces indoors and outside to stop and have lunch or a snack. 

Most importantly, bring a positive attitude and an open mind! The Zero Waste Festival is designed to be a learning experience for all involved. 

How early should I arrive if I have signed up for a workshop or talk? 

Please arrive to the location of your workshop or talk at least five minutes early. This will allow the assistant to take attendance, and give everyone time to get settled so that the workshop can begin on time. 

Is the space accessible? Are there gender neutral washrooms available? 

The Victoria Road Rec Centre is fully accessible. There are accessible parking spaces located at the upper and lower entrances. The upper entrance, where guest services is located, is adjacent to the elevator that will take guests up to the second floor classrooms (Willow and Cedar rooms), and down to the Oak Room. The arena is on the same level as the upper entrance, and the arena doors are equipped with ramps for accessibility. 

Gender neutral, accessible washrooms are located on the lower level, near the lower entrance doors. Other washrooms are located on the main floor. 

What’s the parking/transit situation?

The Victoria Road Rec Centre is equipped with ample free parking. Due to the nature of this festival, we encourage guests to use public or active transportation, or to carpool where possible. The VRRC is located on the #13 bus route which departs from Guelph Central Station, and is a short walk from the #17/#18 routes that services the North, West, East, and South ends of town. There is ample bike parking on site, and free bike maintenance, safety checks, and advice will be available from the CSA Bike Centre and Repair Cafe Volunteer team from 10 am-2pm, on the lawn by the lower bike racks.

Is the space family friendly?

YES! There will be hands-on games and activities at the Water Wagon and the City of Guelph booths, as well as many kid friendly vendors and drop-in sessions. Our ticketed workshops may run a bit long for young ones, and all ticketed workshop attendees must be pre-registered, regardless of age, due to the size constraints of the classrooms. On the front lawn of the Victoria Road Rec Centre, there is a large play space with room to run around and blow off steam!

What about my dog/cat/gerbil/bird/snake etc?

While we love all critters – and we want pets to live sustainably, too, only humans and service animals are permitted at the Zero Waste Festival. Please leave your furry/feathered/scaled etc friends at home.   


If you have any other questions regarding the Zero Waste Festival, please contact us at 

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Guelph Zero Waste Festival

On Saturday, August 10th, community members are invited to gather to celebrate sustainable living at Guelph’s first Zero Waste Festival.  

The Guelph Tool Library will present the festival as part of their Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant. The organization was awarded the grant in the fall of 2018, and will continue to offer their Sustainability Series workshops throughout the until the end of August. So far, their workshops have included clothing repair, furniture refinishing, basic carpentry, and more – all with a focus on reducing personal waste and consumption.

The Zero Waste Festival will offer a a vendor fair with products for creating a low-waste home and lifestyle. There will be a mini Repair Cafe event, with the opportunity to have bikes, clothing, and small appliances or electronics fixed by a team of volunteers. This portion of the event will be free to attend, but pre registration is recommended, and donations are welcome.

As this event is designed to make us converse about our waste and consumption habits, we are asking all participants to use active transportation, public transit, or carpool wherever possible. There will be free vehicle and bike parking, and a bike tune-up station provided by the Repair Cafe and CSA Bike Centre. The Victoria Road Rec Centre is conveniently located on the #13, #17, and #18 bus routes and is a fully accessible building with ramps, accessible washrooms, elevators and automatic doors.

Food will be available for purchase at the festival, and reusable plates and cutlery provided by Hillside Festival will allow for minimal environmental impact. Attendees are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the ample seating indoors and out. The outdoor space offers a newly updated natural playscape for children. Bottled water will not be sold by any food vendors at the festival, but the Water Wagon will be on site – bring a cup or bottle fo

The event will feature a series of workshops and speakers, with pay-what-you-can pricing (suggested $5-$15 per event). Alternatively, a Festival Pass is available for $25-$35, and includes access to two or more workshops and events. Some of the workshops on offer include upcycled rag-rug making, sashiko mending, and furniture refinishing. The full lineup will be released on June 14th, but keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for sneak previews.

For those looking to continue the sustainability discussion after the event, the official Afterparty is being hosted at Royal City Brewing Company from 6 pm to 9 pm.

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The Crow is Leaving the Nest


Guelph Tool Library is becoming an Incorporated Not-For-Profit Organization

The Guelph Tool Library is pleased to announce that it is becoming an incorporated not-for-profit organization commencing Thursday August 1, 2019.  The project began in August 2016 and has expanded to a full service tool library with over 375 members, 700 plus tools and appliances in inventory, and nearly 4000 loans completed.

The Guelph Tool Library began as a project of Transition Guelph and started from a need identified through the work of Susan Carey and Transition Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group.  Carey found that with these projects, she was helping people to grow and harvest food but that many of the tools and appliances were out of reach for new gardeners or those with limited resources.  She says that the idea “ was to provide a community resource that was easily accessible, had a good selection of appliances and tools, and affordable.”

Carey founded the Guelph Tool Library with John Dennis and Saba Saneinejad.  The project began modestly and grew through the support of our members, volunteers, and the community.  Grants and support from our partners, the City of Guelph, the Province, and the Federal Government have allowed the Guelph Tool Library to grow. The Guelph Tool Library is now open five days a week and averaging over 100 loans per week.  Dennis says that “we knew we were onto something as everyone we told about the Guelph Tool Library thought it was a great idea and had ideas on what we should acquire for our inventory.”

Critical to the growth of the Guelph Tool Library has been the bi-monthly Repair Café Guelph organized by Saba Saneinejad.  Saneinejad brought the idea of the Repair Café from Toronto and ran the first Repair Café in August 2016. She says “I loved the idea of fixing and repairing broken and damaged items that would normally just be thrown away.  There are many talented people in Guelph who we have been fortunate to have as volunteers at the Repair Cafés. In addition to fixing the items visitors bring, they teach them basic repairing skills. Repair Cafés are fun days involving fixing things, building a community and protecting our environment. ”  Since the beginning, the Repair Café Guelph has served over 1000 people and diverted over 3000 kilograms of waste from the landfill.

Focusing on the idea of repairing, repurposing, and waste reduction has become the central theme of the Guelph Tool Library.  Led by Zero Waste Coordinator, Stephanie Clarke, the Guelph Tool Library has been running a series of classes focusing on zero waste.  Supported through an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant, the programming will culminate with a Zero Waste Festival on Saturday August 10 at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre.  Clarke says “since September, we have been running a workshop series that allows participants to cut down on waste and creatively reuse everyday items, all while learning about how waste is processed in our city and beyond. Our programming provides the community a chance to actively participate in the recycling and reusing process, and demonstrate the importance of careful consumerism.”

The Guelph Seed Library which is housed at the Guelph Tool Library will be part of the new organization.  Started by Lisa Conroy in 2018, the Guelph Seed Library is a collection of mostly locally grown seeds where anyone can “borrow” seeds for free. The goal being to grow the plants and return a similar quantity or more to give back to the seed library for the next year.  Conroy says “the Seed Library is grateful for the support Transition Guelph gave us to start up and is looking forward to our ongoing partnership with the Guelph Tool Library.”

The Guelph Tool Library’s move away from Transition Guelph will allow it to continue to run new and innovative programming while working towards gaining  charitable status. Guelph Tool Library Coordinator Emily Duncan says that “Transition Guelph was critical for us as we started but we have reached a point where we need to take the next steps on our own.  It will allow us to respond quicker to our members and decide the direction of the organization. We are excited about the possibilities that this presents and we look forward to continuing to serve Guelph through our programming”.

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Book Donation Program at Re:Purpose Fest


I recently wrote to Wilma Alexander, who runs the book donation program we are supporting.  She sent me this wonderful letter on the program. We are collecting books for the program at Re:Purpose Fest – Saturday June 29, 2019.  John Dennis, 

Guelph Tool Library Coordinator.


Hi John,

I’ve delivered 311 boxes of books since I started in September of 2015, by my estimation almost 11,000 books. I take books to the Toronto South Detention Centre, Toronto East Detention Centre, Vanier Centre for Women, and the Maplehurst Detention Centre. Vanier and Maplehurst are in Milton. These four institutions have between them potential for about 5000 prisoners.

There is no cost to running this program. I don’t raise any money, I just collect, sort and deliver books, with some help from my family for the pickups. Any costs incurred, such as gas for my car, I cover myself.

I get books from a number of sources. Lots from individuals, especially people who are downsizing and want to see their books being put to good use. I get a big share of my donations from church communities. Four big Toronto churches invite me to take books left over from their annual rummage sales. The Anglican parishioners in Guelph and Georgetown have sent me a steady supply. A Toronto bookstore specializing in science fiction and fantasy donates their advance reading copies. A publisher in Toronto has given me many boxes of promotional copies.

I sort all the material I receive to make sure the books suit the institutions they are going to. I take into consideration such things a gender preferences (they don’t want romance novels at Toronto South!), sturdiness of the copy, the presence of any staples or prohibited bindings and the suitability of the material. If the books are not suitable for any of the prisons, I take them to a local thrift store that supports programming for developmentally delayed adults. I take advantage of this steady stream of material and read, read, read. If I come across anything that is blatantly sexist, racist, homophobic or graphically violent, I send it to the recycling bin!

The book programs in the libraries are run by the prison librarians, and I deal with them directly when discussing book needs or delivering books. I don’t do any work within the prisons themselves. All the institutions go over all the material they receive meticulously. It is all scanned electronically, and any indication of where it came from, such as previous owners’ names or the names of libraries or schools that have discarded the books is removed or obliterated.

The institutions I take books to are very grateful and enthusiastic, and all the librarians have told me that they have a continuing need for books. While light fiction is always welcome, there is a big demand for more serious fiction and for all kinds of non-fiction. Many prisoners are working for their high school equivalencies so there is a need for all sorts of educational material.

I grew up in Etobicoke, and my family lived in a small subdivision that was bordered on two sides by what was then the Mimico Reformatory, now the site of the Toronto South Detention Centre. The reformatory was a jail farm, and we were used to pushing grass through the fence to the cows and pigs, and seeing the prisoners working in the crops. Toronto South is six stories high, with blanked out windows, surrounded by parking lots. It couldn’t be more different from what was there before. I was dismayed when the federal government shut down all the jail farms. I wanted to do something with my time that would be a direct benefit to people in need. I came up with this idea as more and more people I knew were downsizing and needing to find a home for their books. I like the idea that a valuable resource that might just be thrown away can be put to use. It gives me great satisfaction to be involved in something that is both environmentally and socially useful.

All the best, Wilma

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Re: Purpose Fest

Re Purpose

The Guelph Tool Library (GTL) presents Re:Purpose Fest, a community recycling event and barbeque on Saturday June 29 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Tytler Public School (131 Ontario Street).  Attendees at Re:Purpose Fest will be able to recycle many items that normally end up in the landfill or learn about unique ways to repurpose items. Below is the list of what we are recycling:


  • Car Seat Recycling – David Bruce & Associates Insurance and Financial Services (The Co-operators) is sponsoring child car seat recycling.  Normally costing about $15 a seat, all seats collected at Re:Purpose Fest will be recycled for free through ATMO.
  • Cell Phones – The GTL hs been collecting cell phones for the Toronto Zoo Phone Apes program for the past year.  We recently completed the Good Call Program which sent over 300 phones to the zoo.
  • Children’s Books and Reading Material – Wilma Alexander runs a book donation program that delivers books to local prisons. Since she started in September of 2015, she has delivered almost 11,000 books. Books wanted include the following: children’s books; dictionaries; large print books; languages other than English; material reflecting diversity of culture, especially First Nations; and remedial educational materials.
  • Craft Supplies – The Creation Station is a local initiative for exploring art.  We are collecting arts and crafts materials.
  • Crayons – Crazy Crayons takes unwanted, rejected, broken crayons to a better place, where they will be recycled into new crayons!
  • Cutlery – Royal City Church has asked us to collect cutlery at our event on their behalf.
  • Mascara and Makeup Wands – Project Wild Wands Canada collects old mascara and makeup wands and sends them to wildlife rehabilitation centres across Canada.
  • Scrap Metal Recycling – We will be collecting scrap metal to offset out costs for this event.  Benmet Steel and Metal is providing the recycling container.
  • School SuppliesThe Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition participates in the city wide backpack program.  Two Rivers NG is collecting school supplies for this program. Needs items include: pencils, pens, binders, paper, markers,and pencil sharpeners. .
  • Sheets and Towels – GENTLY USED – Fleece blankets, towels, flat sheets, knitted blankets, baby blankets will be collected on behalf of the Guelph Humane Society.  
  • Small Toys and Game Pieces – The Tiny Toy Co. wants your small misfit toys and games pieces to create educational experiences.  We will be collecting them and dropping them off in Toronto.
  • Suitcases – We are collecting suitcases on behalf of Not Just Tourists.  Donations of full-sized suitcases (large) are extremely welcome. They should be clean, fairly light, be able to close easily, and in good condition.
  • Swap TableOne person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.  Have something that is working but unwanted? Bring it to Re:Purpose Fest and swap it for something else.
  • Tools and AppliancesThe Guelph Tool Library has operated since August of 2016.  Over 95% of our 700+ tool and appliance inventory has been donated.  Do you have an unwanted (but working) tool or appliance? We would love to have it and share it with our members.
  • Tupperware and other reusable containers – Many of us have a huge pile of tupperware that takes up space in our kitchen and goes unused.  The Welcome in Drop In Centre has asked us to collect containers for them to provide to their clients.
  • VHS  and Audio Tapes – Since their introduction in 1970s, over 2 billion VHS tapes have been solid in Canada.  The vast majority end up in the landfill even though over 80% of the VHS tape is recyclable.  Working with Red Propeller, the Guelph Tool Library will be collecting and recycling these tapes for a “pay what you can” donation.
  • Wine Corks – Jelinek of Oakville Ontario remanufactures used wine cork primarily for construction materials such as cork underlay, cork flooring, acoustical cork wall tiles and cork fabrics.
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Beeswax Wraps


You might have heard the buzz about beeswax wraps. The little fabric squares are taking the world of sustainable living by storm. These wraps allow you to eliminate plastic wrap, produce bags, and sandwich bags in your every day routine. They are made from cotton fabric that has been coated in a waxy solution made from either beeswax or any other natural, food grade wax, blended with a shelf-stable, food grade oil, and sticky pine resin. The wraps become pliable when handled, and can be formed around jar lids, over plates and bowls, or folded around produce, cheese, or sandwiches. The wraps can be cleaned by rinsing them with warm water and mild soap. They can’t be exposed to heat, harsh substances or raw meats, but when cared for properly, wraps will last about a year before they need to be “re-seasoned” with a bit of extra beeswax.

There are a number of great local vendors who sell these wraps, but if you’re in to DIY, they are easy to make! Last weekend we set up demo stations at the Guelph Farmer’s Market and the Guelph Public Library. We were able to make over 65 wraps with community members, while talking about the sustainable initiatives at the Guelph Tool Library and beyond.

We’d like the share the recipe and technique we used. All of the equipment required for this method is available in a kit from the Guelph Tool Library.

Tools required:
Crock pot (or double boiler – but it’s tough to keep the temp consistent)
Heat gun (optional, but helps keep the wax melted)
Tongs and/or tweezers (2 pair)
Cheese grater
Pinking shears (optional, regular scissors work fine)
Parchment paper
Iron and ironing board/pad


Beeswax or other food-grade wax 100 grams
Oil (coconut, almond, jojoba, flax, apricot kernel oil all work well – must be shelf stable and food grade) 10 grams
Pine Resin (optional, but helps make the wraps extra sticky!) 25 grams
100% Cotton, lightweight woven fabric (old, clean bedsheets are perfect!)

The recipe can be scaled to any amount using these ratios. This will make about 10 medium sized wraps.

Begin by grating the beeswax in to the crock pot and letting it melt. Add in the oil and pine resin. To speed up the melting process, use a heat gun on low – keep it moving around so that the wax doesn’t melt to quickly. When everything is melted, give it a stir to incorporate. Cover your work surface in parchment paper.

Cut your fabric to the desired size. 6×6″ is good for small snacks, ends of cut produce, or pieces of cheese. 9×9″ up to 12×12″ is ideal for herbs, sandwiches, or over the end of bread loaves. Larger sheets are difficult to handle in the crock pot, but we’ll provide an alternative method below.

Working with one piece of fabric at a time, use a pair of tongs or tweezers in each hand to submerge the fabric in to the wax. Lift the fabric out of the pot, allowing excess wax to drip off. Carefully transfer the wrap over to your parchment-lined ironing board.

Lay another piece of parchment on top. With an iron set to low, smooth out the wrap with a quick pass of the iron. Lift up the top sheet, and transfer the wrap to a spare piece of parchment to cool. Scrape the excess wax back in to the pot with a spoon. If you end up with a lot of un-melted wax in the pot, reheat it quickly with the heat gun on low. Repeat the process until you run out of wax!

For large wraps, use a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Pre heat your oven to a 200 F. Lay a single piece of fabric down on the cookie sheet. Carefully pour the wax over the fabric, and spread out in to a thin layer with a heatproof spatula. Place the tray in to the oven for a few minutes, or until the wax soaks in to the fabric. Carefully remove from the tray using tongs, and hang it to dry. Wraps can also be “re-seasoned” by using the oven method, just sprinkle a little extra grated beeswax on each wrap. Alternatively, to freshen up your wraps, sandwich each one between two pieces of parchment paper, and use an iron on low to redistribute the wax.

If you use this recipe, be sure to let us know in the comments, or tag us in a post on social media.