This past Saturday, we were delighted to collaborate with Barbara from the One Stop Sustainability Shop and Glenda from Tomboy Tools to host a sustainable garden tool party. What, you wonder, is a sustainable garden tool? Based on our conversation during the gathering, I can offer the following suggestions for the elements of a sustainable garden tool:
- You use it to do projects in a garden that will meet your needs for a long time to come without compromising the ability of other creatures to meet their needs there–that is, a sustainable garden.
- It is durable: it holds an edge, won’t rust immediately upon exposure to the elements, holds up under stress, and doesn’t wear out after a few uses. Ideally, it will last as long as your garden…and then be a good present for another gardener down the line.
- If it does bend or break, it doesn’t have to be chucked in the trash can: you (or a talented helper) can repair it.
- It fits your body. The last thing you want is to be sore after gardening. One of the neat things about Tomboy Tools tools is that they’re designed by an ergonomics expert to fit women’s bodies. Many ladies report, however, that the extra features tempt handy family members–men and women alike–to “borrow” their tools.
- Components are sourced responsibly. That goes for wooden handles, metal blades, plastic components, and any packaging. Can you tell that the brand is doing its best to utilize sustainable materials and/or minimize materials use?
- It is manufactured close to home. Here, the closest tool manufacturer I know of is Red Pig Garden Tools. Red Pig also modifies existing tools to make them fit your body, fixes broken tools, and creates custom tools to fit your unique needs. An awesome resource.
- Packaging is recycled, recyclable, limited, or nonexistent. Enough said.
- It is third-party certified. One Stop Sustainability Shop chooses to carry many different products that have been certified environment- and people-friendly by a third-party organization. I haven’t found a specific certification for garden tools…but for many other consumer products, you can check out GreenerChoices.org for info on certifiers, the meaning of different labels, and the characteristics of a strong certification.
We had a great time on Saturday, and hope that our conversation will inspire new ideas and commitments!
Not all tools are created equal that’s for sure. I’ve broken many a tool that was being sold for “the best price around”. Meanwhile I continue to use many tools that were passed down from from my great grandpa. Thanks to my grandpa buying quality tools I was able to more easily get a start in my trade. Also the longer something maintains it’s use, the greener it gets.