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Bicycle Recycling: An Overlooked Way to Help the Environment

by Naomi Rodgers
(Montreal, Canada)

Bicycle recycling is probably one of the most versatile ways to help save the environment. Bicycles are among the most useful yet simple machines on the planet but are too often discarded into landfills with no consideration as to the years they have remaining.

These two-wheeled “horses” are not only easily recycled but provide other environmental benefits such as reducing exhaust emissions and improving the health of their owners. Before you take that old bicycle in the garage to a landfill, consider the following ways to recycle and reuse it.

Get it Repaired

Bicycles are extremely easy to repair and put back on the road. Some cities even have repair centers where you can either donate your old bike or let them guide you in fixing it yourself. The parts of a bicycle that typically need repairing or refurbishment include the sprocket (main gear), spokes, rims, chain, wheel bearings, brake cabling, and gear shifter.

It makes sense because these are also the components that are subject to the most friction. However, unlike an automobile, these components are easily replaced putting new life back into the bicycle.

Work for Volunteers and Disabled

Bicycle repair centers are oftentimes run by charity organizations such as Goodwill Industries that employ volunteers or the disabled. For these workers, bicycle recycling gives them new opportunities to be productive in society and learn new skills.

These same organizations in turn donate the repaired bicycles to other charitable causes such as providing them to the people of underdeveloped or impoverished countries. Your old bicycle has much potential for helping out other underprivileged people.

Other Donation Avenues

There are numerous venues for bicycle recycling where you can give new life to an old bike, working or not working. For example, some beaches have bicycle rental shops for visitors who love to ride the bike paths and enjoy the freshness of the seashore.

These rental shops are oftentimes just small operations and have limitedinvestment capital for purchasing new bicycles. By donating your old bicycle to one of these shops, you help them plus boost the overall economy of the beach venue.

The Spare Parts

Not all bicycles are serviceable however most are. For those that are unserviceable (such as a bent frame), take them to a recycling center where you will get a little cash for your old bicycle and the aluminum can be melted down and used for something else. An old rubber inner tubecan be used to cover a chain that you use with a padlock to secure your bicycle.

Ball bearings can be cleaned, polished and make into earrings. The parts from two inoperable bicycles can be combined to make one that can be ridden. There are many options for bicycle recycling and they are only limited by your imagination.

Re-discover Your Bicycle

Sometimes, the reason that a bicycle sits in a garage is because the owner does not want to use it. The most common reason is that there is just nowhere to ride or the area around the owner’s house has grown to be a traffic-filled nightmare and riding is just too dangerous.

Check your local directory or the internet and you may find places that offer bicycle training courses that teach you how to safely ride your bike even in the worst of traffic conditions. These courses make you aware of the road hazards and how to handle or avoid them. It is an easy way to accomplish bicycle recycling by just re-discovering what you already have.

The Impact Beyond the Bike

The benefits of bicycles with regard to the environment cannot be understated. Bicycle transportation is probably one of the cleanest forms of commuting and leaves no carbon emissions. While not everyone can ride a bike to work, most can use one to make short trips to the local market or other nearby place.

Then, there are the health benefits of riding. Consider that it is perfect for getting aerobic exercise which helps weight loss and that there is no impact on the knees. The next time that you clean your garage, remember bicycle recycling before you take that old bike to a landfill.

Updated: August 1, 2013 — 8:53 am

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