If you've been to our Innerleithen shop it's hard to miss our Elephant Bike, modelled below with Alex. Our bike is usually greeting people at our front door and displaying anything from bobble hats to local flyers or socks, but did you know that every Elephant Bike has a twin?
"The story started a few years ago when a small Staffordshire-based charity, the Krizevac Project, got its hands on a fleet of old Royal Mail postal bikes. The virtually indestructible Pashley frames were destined for the scrap heap, but were given a new lease of life in Africa." After a refurbishment, the bikes were shipped to Malawi for use by game wardens making the 30 mile check of the fences protecting endangered wildlife from poachers.
Seeing the positive impact these bikes had, the project continued as Cycle for Good. As these Royal Mail bikes are decommissioned, they're available for purchase instead of heading to landfill. And even better, when you buy one Elephant Bike, another goes to Malawi to be refurbished and sold to those in need of a bike to improve their lives.
This is not a colourful art piece - this photo shows thousands of abandoned dockless hire bikes in Hangzhou, China. Specifically, these are the ones taken out of service after being left in strange and unusual places rendering them useless, and no one knows what to do with them. Will they end up in landfill? Possibly. But surely they're another prime source of bikes for projects such as the Elephant Bike? We are yet to see the impact abandoned hire bikes has had on the environment - for one they encourage active transport but this large scale wastage must negate any positive impact hire bikes have?
There are other ways of reducing bicycle products reaching landfill. It takes 50 - 80 years for rubber to decompose, so recycling your bike tyres and inner tubes is a really important thing to do. Cycle of Good not only recycles bikes, they will take your old inner tubes to Malawi too. They then train locals in tailoring to use these recycled materials to make quality handcrafted goods to sell on, make a profit and improve yet more lives.
Find out where you can recycle your inner tubes here.
"A recent study, commissioned by UK coffee start-up Halo, estimates that 56 billion single-use coffee capsules produced by various manufacturers each year will end up in landfills." These pods will take 150 years to decompose.
So what are the creative opportunities for the bicycle industry to help recycle even further?
"After two years in development, RE:CYCLE, a stylish urban bicycle made from discarded Nespresso pods, is ready to roll. And it only takes 300 espressos to make one."
Nespresso coffee pods are actually made of lightweight aluminium so the possibilities are quite vast. While single use coffee pods are controversial, and in fact banned from government offices in Hamburg, it's great to see possible offsetting of their impact.
Following in the footsteps of the Elephant Bike project, with every purchase of a Velosophy RE:CYCLE bike a second one is sent to a school girl in the developing world. Get a bike, give a bike.