Tool Library in Gloucester Township first in the state

In order to create a more sustainable future, this initiative for residents in Camden County is completely free and aims to help the community

Sustainable development means being able to meet the needs of the present without sacrificing or compromising the future for other generations. One way that communities across the United States, and world, have banded together to combat a waste of resources is through tool library programs.

The Camden County Board of Freeholders started the Camden County Tool Library approximately three years ago to offer residents of the 37 municipalities in the county a place where they can obtain tools and materials for projects of all sorts, both in and out of the house. It is the first of its kinds in the state of New Jersey, according to localtools.org.

The tool library is located at The Office of Sustainability and Shared Services in the Regan Building at 508 Lakeland Road in the Blackwood section of Gloucester Township. Upon entering the building, the entire right wing of the building is devoted to single-use materials, hand and power tools, lawn and garden items, a workshop and more.

Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young, who acts as the liaison to Sustainable Camden County, believes such a program is groundbreaking and opens the door to help in all sorts of ways.

“Just the sustainability and the understanding the repurposing of materials and understanding how much more can landfills hold,” Young said. “It’s just our responsibility as a sustainable county to make sure that we do everything we can possibly do to keep things out of landfills.”

“It’s just the right thing to do,” Young said. “To make sure that things are reused or recycled or repurposed in the right manner.”

The aim is to cut down on the number of residents that purchase tools for limited time use, only to have the tools then go unused for years before being thrown out or forgotten. This initiative hopes to increase collaboration within the community.

The program, which has about 300 regular members, runs off the honor system and is completely free for residents to use the estimated over 2,000 tools and materials. In order to sign up and use the tool library, residents must simply show a form of ID.

After checking out certain items for a project, the residents have two weeks with certain tools before they should be returned, giving ample time to complete projects.

Director of Sustainability for Camden County Christopher Waldron says the program has grown into an impressive collection of tools for residents to borrow year round thanks to donations from the community, for the community.

Through the website at sustainable.camdencounty.com, residents can browse the entire inventory online to see what is currently available for them to use before going to the location. Items in the inventory include all types of tools for numerous projects, from construction projects to lawn care and more.

“It’s a very unique program that we get nothing but positive feedback about in terms of its service to the community,” Waldron said. “A lot of people tell us that this is what government should do, these are kinds of programs government should do and be that sort of conduit for the community and give things back.”

The Tool Library in Gloucester Township is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, year-round. The library is always accepting donations of tools and materials.