The fact that sustainability seems almost a non-issue in the cycling industry bewilders me, as the freedom experience as cyclists is so closely intertwined with the environment we ride in.
Ask any cyclist, and they will likely tell you it's freedom. The reason they ever started, the main drive to keep on going. Of course some evolve, become professional cyclists who put in the hours purely for training and start to value numbers over experiences. But even them. Ask any pro about their earliest encounters with a bike and he/she will dish up a great story of a neighborhood quest on two wheels that ended with some angry parents looking out for their lost kids in the woods. It transcends nationalities and backgrounds. Even generations.
It was the reason for me. Having a hard time sustaining that freedom in everyday life - especially with the arrival of a little man that changed the implication of freedom in both a beautiful and tough way you will only grasp as a parent - cycling offered me just that. Being able to leave a concrete environment and within a matter of time find yourself on a sketchy forest trail you haven't ridden before. Or even riding that same piece of tarmac in different light; as seasons are so much more present if you cycle through them. Just getting out there, being part of your surroundings, not knowing what comes next. #outsideisfree, right?
But something has been nagging my brain for a while now. In my non-cyclist life, i'm quite actively involved in trying to do things better. I work on projects to enhance a more sustainable food system, I try to buy local, eat less meat, reduce my waste, vote green, endorse sustainable brands. I'm way off of being perfect, but it is a conscious effort to leave this place in a better state than it is now. For one, I want to be able to look my now eight year old in the eye when he will be old enough to value his mom's contributions to that place. Which actually already started.
For a mainly outdoor sports, it seems cycling is astoundingly oblivious to becoming a more sustainable industry. I might be wrong here, and missing out on a lot of good intent. I do hope so. And please tell me if I am. But it seems not to be a big topic in cycling as of yet.
You could argue that cycling in itself, being human powered, has a low CO2 footprint. But it's the mere lack of interest in the subject that bewilders me. As the freedom we experience as cyclists is so closely intertwined with the environment we ride in. We value it, we hashtag it, we even travel for it. Why don't we do everything we can to make sure it will be there in the future for us - and our kids - to enjoy?
Cycling finds itself on a crossroads of technical innovation, fashion and outdoor sports. The mainstream fashion industry has finally started to address their huge environmental impact, albeit there's a long way to go. But with several outdoor brands, it has been the intrinsic drive from the get go. Activist companies as Patagonia are a great example of making business be about more than making money. But even just improving production methods or materials could contribute. I know of a few smaller cycling brands who market their products as environmentally responsible, and some bigger ones seem to have taken steps in that direction. But none of them seems to value it as part of their mission statement.
Is it indeed a lack of interest? Is it too hard to produce sustainable cycling products? Is the market not ready for it? Aren't cycling brands bold enough to address the urgency? Based on my own experience in this fast growing scene, I would say none of that is true.
So here's an appeal to the entire cycling industry, wether you're producing bikes, parts, apparel, apps, or any other essential product us cyclists purchase:
GREEN UP, and I will love you for it. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
For more information on the initiative that came out of this first personal blog, please see: