South King Tool Library will open second branch thanks to grant

The South King Tool Library in Federal Way will open a second branch in the South King County area thanks to a nearly $200,000 grant from King County.

Amanda Miller, executive director at the South King Tool Library, said the nonprofit is looking at several locations, but is leaning toward the downtown Auburn area for launching a new tool library.

The tool library, located at the Pyramid Masonic Center at 1700 S. 340th Place, offers exactly what its name would imply: Members can freely rent ladders, screwdrivers, hoses, drills, saws and more for their residential, business or other projects.

Thirteen other King County organizations also received grants from the county’s Re+ Circular grant program, which disbursed a total of $2.3 million this month. The grants went to projects that aim to reduce waste in the community. The tool library received a total of $197,500 from the grant.

The grant program is part of King County’s goal to reduce landfill waste by 70% by 2030. It aims to do so through promoting a “circular economy” system, according to the county’s website, in which valuable materials like paper, metal and food waste are recycled or composted rather than simply thrown away. The county estimates that nearly 70 percent of the yearly waste sent to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill could have been repurposed.

Tool libraries help people avoid tossing their rarely-used tools, create opportunities to repair appliances and furniture rather than throwing them away, and affordably connect people with odd or expensive tools they may only need to use once or twice.

Members don’t need to live in a specific zip code or reach a certain income threshold, Miller said, because the tool library wants “to remove as many barriers as possible.”

There are seven tool libraries in King County, Miller said, most of them in Seattle.

The South King Tool Library opened its doors in 2020 and is currently preparing for a pitch competition with NextCycle Washington, an environmental services program that encourages creative business ideas to improve recycling efforts and reduce waste production. Miller said she hopes to create an incubator program that would help others quickly create tool libraries similar to their own. NextCycle has already given them a $10,000 grant, she said, and more could be on the way depending on their performance at the competition.