Words by Chloe Hay
In a year that’s set to be the beginning of a waste revolution, we look at some of the more sustainable cycling gear on the market
If you’ve resolved to be more eco-savvy in 2018, you’re definitely not alone. Whether it’s all down to David Attenborough, or if its China closing its doors on our plastic waste that’s made people take notice, one thing’s for sure: the sustainability movement is in full swing. And if you’re reading this feeling slightly smug that you’re already doing your bit by cycling everywhere, you may want to pause for a second to think about your cycling essentials… Helmet? Single-use plastic. Water bottle? Snap. Saddle cover? You get the idea.
And as we learn that every single toothbrush we’ve ever owned (that’s 100+ for the average 30-something-year-old) is still in existence today, it may just be time to rethink some of our consumer habits. That’s not to say go and replace all of your gear with greener alternatives (all that would do is create more waste!), but perhaps next time you’re in the market for a new piece of kit you might want to consider choosing a more sustainable replacement.
It’s still early days for eco-friendly bike brands, but there are thankfully some brilliant companies and people already creating beautiful pieces of kit from sustainable materials. Here are some of our favourites…
A seriously stylish saddle, Brooks Cambium is made from natural rubber, organic cotton, aluminium and steel. Designed to stand the test of time, the Cambium is both durable and comfortable. Loved by serious endurance cyclists, the saddle’s shape helps to reduce road vibrations offering improved comfort during long distance rides. Prices range from £95 - £320 depending on the style and pattern of the saddle, which although a little costly, you can’t put a price on a saddle sore-free ride.
A great way to add comfort and style to your current saddle is to get your hands on a Pedal Shed saddle cover. Made from upcycled Danish design furniture, the covers are all limited edition and ooze Scandi style. You can choose between slim and medium sizes in a range of materials including wool and leather, and you can even get one to fit a Santander Cycle to make your commute slightly sleeker. Pedal Shed saddle covers were created to put an end to that dreaded plastic carrier bag over the saddle look, and not only will they keep your bum dry come rain or snow, they’ll also gift you an extra layer of comfort on sunnier, drier days too.
After a beautiful, plastic-free pannier that doubles up as a handbag? Panniers really don’t get more stylish than the Linus range. Made from waxed canvas, these heritage look bags come in a range of muted colours and can be carried, worn on your shoulder or, of course, attached to your pannier rack.
Although you may not go helmet shopping all that often, it’s still a single-use object as it needs replacing after an accident. And as most helmets are made from expanded polystyrene, they’re incredibly slow to biodegrade and very hard to recycle. There’s yet to be a mainstream alternative, but there are some innovative designs now available for purchase.
The guys at US-based Coyle custom make wooden helmets to order and will ship to the UK. You can even approach them with your own bespoke design idea and if it’s possible to make, they’ll produce it for you using sustainable wood and cork so it won’t suffer from UV degradation like plastic and foam helmets can. Also, keep an eye out for cardboard helmets (they can withstand three times as much impact as a standard polystyrene helmet), bamboo helmets and flax resin alternatives – all sure to be hitting the market soon.
Ankle straps. Not the suavest piece of cycling kit but a very practical one, and a necessity if you regularly cycle in your favourite non-lycra trousers. We love Green Guru’s ankle straps made from recycled bike tyres and tubes – cycling gear doesn’t get any more sustainable than that! The eco-conscious company have so far recycled £1m worth of ‘waste’ to produce their gear, and they make a range of bags, panniers and other accessories too. They’re a US-based company, but you can pick up their ankle straps on Amazon.
One of the biggest culprits in the fight against single-use plastic, we need to stop buying throwaway water bottles today. Instead, choose between a reusable glass or stainless steel bottle. Both materials are infinitely recyclable (unlike plastic which at best is only ever downcycled) and they make for stylish accessories too. For everyday use both Swell and Chilly’s make some beautiful bottles, but for slotting onto your bike frame, Klean Kanteen is probably the most suitable.
If you fancy going the whole hog and becoming a truly sustainable cyclist, making your own bamboo bicycle might be for you. Based in London and Munich, the Bamboo Bicycle Club run workshops to help people build their own bike frames out of bamboo, as well as sell home build kits for anyone not able to get to a workshop. The club’s mission is to show cyclists just how sustainable bikes can be and to prove that bamboo bicycles can be just as comfortable and perform just as well as regular bikes. Their bikes have been taken on some epic journeys from London to Singapore and all through South America, proving that they really are as durable as they are beautiful to look at.
And what about when all of your less sustainable gear comes to the end of its life? Well, other than throwing it in the bin to head to landfill or harass your council for a means to recycle it, the only other option really is to get crafty. Pinterest has heaps of clever ideas for ways to recycle your bike gear – like these helmet hanging planters, bike frames turned bike racks, handlebar chairs, and saddles that are now jewellery holders.