Where else can you borrow a pizza oven, pliers and a 4-person tent? Look out for the Library of Things
Have you ever thrown a party and wished you had a candy floss machine to hand? Or invested in camping kit that you’ve only used for one festival? Maybe what you need is a trip to the Buy Nowt lending library
There are around twenty lending libraries in the UK, and we’re lucky to have Buy Nowt right here in Leeds. It’s a volunteer-led organisation set up to make it easier for people to access the things they want and need at a fraction of the cost.
As the cost of living crisis pinches us more and more, initiatives like this provide a great way to access practical or luxury items
The library is founded and operated by volunteers, and it has accumulated over 850 items since its launch in October 2021.
Buy Nowt was created to help the people of Leeds save money and tackle environmental issues. All you have to do is create a membership, and pay as you feel to borrow things.
As the cost of living crisis pinches us more and more, initiatives like this provide a great way to access practical or luxury items and enjoy our leisure time, but at a fraction of the cost of buying things new.
What can I borrow from Buy Nowt?
Buy Nowt is a real Aladdin’s cave. It has an extensive selection of camping equipment, including a four-person tent, roll mats, sleeping bags, backpacks, and camping chairs. Want to do some DIY but don’t have the tools? No bother. You can borrow drills, jigsaws, circular saws, tile cutters, and more. They even have sewing machines and overlockers for those of you who want to make your own garments and soft furnishings.
If you’re planning an Otley Run or a fancy dress party you could borrow costumes. They have snorkelling equipment, bike racks, and map cases for those of you looking to enjoy being active.
You could even hire a chainsaw or garden shredder and transform an outdoor area into your dream space.
The average cost of an item from Buy Nowt is £20, and Jed estimates that the organisation has saved borrowers more than £7000 collectively. Not only is this a fantastic financial saving, but by not purchasing these items, Buy Nowt also saves a considerable amount of carbon by reducing the purchases of rare-use items.
What do people say about Buy Nowt?
Ian Thursfield is the founder and manager of Leeds Zero Waste Refill Shop, another business that encourages consumers to think carefully about how their purchases affect the environment. He regularly borrows things from Buy Nowt, and recently commandeered two fancy dress outfits, a disco ball and lights, and a couple of chairs for a Eurovision Party.
"The Buy Nowt lending library has been an amazing entity to deal with. Instead of me buying expensive equipment to use once or twice, I just hire it out. The experience is quick and very easy to manage and the staff are brilliant."
Buy Nowt Project Manager Jed Aitchinson is also a qualified PAT tester, and the organisation occasionally offers a free/PAYF PAT Certification service.
Local musician Alice popped in with a laptop a couple of weeks ago and was in and out in ten minutes, with the device certified for use at a wedding gig the following weekend.
"PAT testing usually means calling out an electrician and having to fork out for the service," says Alice. "It’s important that all my equipment is PAT tested in compliance with my insurance policy as a performer, so it was great to have this on my doorstep."
Lowering barriers to entry
The impact of Buy Nowt is quite extraordinary. Being able to borrow makes things so much more accessible to people where they otherwise may not be.
Access to expensive tools could make it possible for someone to work on a DIY project to improve their home and increase its value. Borrowing a popcorn machine, disco ball, and fancy dress costumes could be the difference between a family being able to throw a child's dream birthday party or having a more meagre celebration.
A single mother in difficult circumstances was recently able to take a camping trip with her children thanks to the library. It could solve the tricky first weeks after moving home and not having everything you need in the kitchen. You could even use this as a chance to try before you buy.
Maybe you’re interested in making fresh juices, but you’d like to test a juicer before investing in your own, Buy Nowt gives you the opportunity to do so at very little cost. Maybe you’re a bit skint and you want to throw a special date night for your partner, hiring a pizza oven or a fondue kit suddenly transforms another meal at home into a memorable occasion.
The library has provided resources to local groups of Cubs, Scouts, and D of E students, making learning about the outdoors accessible to young people.
How does it work?
Borrowing from Buy Nowt couldn’t be easier. Simply sign up to become a member (this is completely free). You can choose to make a monthly donation to the lending library if you’re able to do so, but this is not essential.
Once your membership has been confirmed, simply head to the Inventory tab on the website, and have a scroll, you can filter by categories to find what you’re looking for. Select the item you wish to borrow, and make a reservation.
Buy Nowt is open from 4pm-6pm on Fridays and 1pm-4pm on Saturdays for you to collect your items. You’ll find them located in the Methodist Church Centenary Room which they rent on Chapel St, Headingley.
They’ll take your address and contact information and some proof of ID. The suggested donation is 10% of the value of the item, but they work on a pay-as-you-feel basis, so you can give as much or as little as you are able to. And of course, if you have items in good condition that you think would be a good addition to the library, you can speak to them about donating things for others to borrow, one generous member recently donated a 3D printer.
Keep an eye on Buy Nowt’s social media as they often post requests for items they are looking to add to the library, or check the Donate page on their website.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this wonderful little organisation is that its potential is as limitless as the imaginations, desires, and generosity of the people that use and support it.
It could seed the beginnings of a new community group, allow a budding artist to flourish, or facilitate a special celebration with loved ones. So get yourself signed up, start borrowing, stop spending, and plan your next project with the help of Buy Nowt.
Buy Nowt Leeds Centenary Room, 1-3 Chapel Street, Leeds LS6 3HZ
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