New Kakaako library offers tools, not books, for borrowing


It’s a brilliant idea and it didn’t take a Ph.D. to think of it, but a University of Hawaii-Manoa student who’s studying sustainability.

The Honolulu Tool Library, located at Reuse Hawaii behind the UH medical school in Kakaako, allows people to borrow tools, from paint sprayers to saws, and dozens of others to choose from.

For a $55 annual membership fee, you can borrow any tool for a week for things like woodworking, carpentry, home remodeling, painting and gardening. The tools are donated and the library maintains and sharpens them.

Founder and executive director Elia Bruno originally got the idea for the library about a year ago while working on a garden. “I wanted to build raised beds and compose bins, but I realized buying all the tools I was going to need, it was not going to make sense because I’m never going to use them again.

“I went to learn about tool libraries and what they’re doing on the mainland. … I eventually brought the concept back to Hawaii and we got it started.”

Bruno said not only can people donate their tools for a tax deduction, but they can still access the tools when they need them.

“We’re also starting a series of workshops that we can teach our community members how to build and fix stuff, especially using reclaimed material,” he said.

“When you look at the carbon footprint of owning and using tools, only 2 percent of its carbon footprint comes from using the tool, and 98 percent of the carbon footprint — let’s say a drill comes from making the drill — comes from extracting the resources, shipping it all over the world. So if we can reduce that by sharing a single tool among many community members, we’re actually getting rid of 98 percent of the carbon footprint of that tool.”

To learn more about the Honolulu Tool Library, click here.

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