It's become a habit of mine to collect/salvage interesting bike parts. This is probably something that I picked up in university. Our student-run bike collective had a deal with a local bike shop; they let us climb in their dumpster and take home any bike parts that we wanted. As a business, it was their job to put new parts on bikes at their customer's request. Sometimes perfectly good parts would get thrown away simply because shops can't sell used stuff. Thankfully lots of bike collectives have a similar deal with a local shop. Many bike shops recycle their rubber and metal already. Some even send away their old bike tubes to organizations like Green Guru or Alchemy Goods. (Encourage your local bike shop to recycle their parts if they aren't!)
I've got my own use for broken and discarded bike parts.
Use 1: I collect parts for class demos and tactile tools. (I'll write about my teaching philosophy and whyI think people need tactile tools to fiddle with to help lessons sink in in another post.)
Use 2: Jewelry and bike art! That's what this is all about.
What I'm doing isn't unique. Everyone on Etsy is making upcycled or recycled bike part jewelry. There's some beautiful stuff out there! The thing that I've done is make recycled bike p(art)s a component of the Vie Cycle.
The purpose of my organization, Vie Cycle ("vie" meaning "life" in French, pronounced /vee/) is to create a cycle from bikes to education to sustainability and back. Starting with women+ who are interested in cycling, I offer workshops in bike education. These workshops include lots of hands-on practice time. We get greasy and dirty taking things apart and seeing how they go back together. We learn about the names of bike parts and tools which gives people the confidence they might need to go to bike shops, or work on their bike more. As they build skills in bike maintenance, those skills flow over into other disciplines. Bike maintenance relates to so many DIY project. Assembling and building things, repairing appliances, troubleshooting problems...The understanding that something can be broken, and then fixed is really life changing. How many times have you had to get help with a task only to realize that it was actually pretty simple? Maybe you could have saved $60 if you'd done it yourself...
That's the education and empowerment part of the cycle. Next comes sustainability and self-reliance. Once you can do some basic bike maintenance you start to think, 'what else can I do?" If you've got the tools and the time, so much is within reach. There's an excitement that comes with new skills. The more I learn, the more I want to do and practice and improve. So you know more, so you're riding more, you're sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with other people and suddenly we've got this community of people who are living more sustainably. They are biking, they're maintaining their bikes, they replace things less often, they fix things when they are damaged, maybe they choose to ride to work instead of driving because they know they can fix a flat on the road. These skills make you more self-reliant, capable and influence you to live more sustainably. And part of sustainability is about health and wellness. We know that biking releases endorphins which make you happy. It's a form of exercise! When you give your body craves good things, it craves more of that good stuff. Good health and good moods are side effects of cycling, and they can be contagious if you're not careful.
That's how it leads back to bikes. And once you've been a part of the cycle, you can keep sharing it. Teach your friends, bike with your friends, do a DIY project, make a healthy meal to fuel your healthy body.
Recycled bike p(art)s are part of the cycle too. This fits in with sustainability. I'm doing my part to recycle just a little bit more and turn discarded stuff into something useful. If you donate to the Vie Cycle Free Courses Fund, you get a pair of free earrings. In turn, you're supporting a future Vie Cyclist. You're giving someone a chance to join the cycle, take a workshop and change their life just a bit.
Stories from the road and bike shops en route.
Author: Sylvie Froncek
I've ridden thousands of miles, led group bike tours, taught maintenance classes and started bike collectives, all in an attempt to share what I love with great people. Read about my adventures and tell me about yours!