Birthday parties are lots of fun, but they can generate a lot of waste as a result of the single-use paper goods people typically use. Inspired by Palo Alto’s zero waste effort, the parents’ association at The Carey School invested in a party kit with enough reusable supplies for a party with 40 kids.

Nilu Motiwala made the kit available for borrowing through her Foster City Buy Nothing Group. The response was tremendous, with many people offering to add more items. That gave rise to the Lending Library. “Many of us had things sitting in our homes that we didn’t use most of the time. We were willing to lend these out in the community,” Nilu explained.

They created a simple spreadsheet with a description of items, their availability and how to contact the lender. The spreadsheet now has 10 sub-sheets with more than 200 items, including an ice cream maker, champagne flutes, cake platters, cocktail dresses, snow sleds, video games, a folding dolly and ladders. Beyond reducing waste, it has increased the interaction among neighbors and brought the community closer

Why not start a lending library in your community? It is a great way to make the sustainable option easier and affordable while also building community.