Level Up Your Eco-Friendly Cycling Practices for Earth Day

By Megan Flottorp

It’s Earth Day today and we think it’s a good time to reflect on sustainability and environmental friendliness in relation to our cycling habits. Cycling has long been recognised as an environmentally responsible mode of transportation. Still, in recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the need to adopt more comprehensive eco-conscious practices within the cycling industry and community.

Today, we’d like to focus on what you can do (in big ways and small) to ensure that the time you spend in the saddle contributes to a greener future for all of us.

The intersection of cycling and climate change

In the realm of sustainability within the bike industry, progress has been gradual, marked by a hesitancy to fully embrace eco-conscious practices. This reluctance can often leave companies uncertain where to begin their sustainability journey. While some companies are making significant strides towards sustainability, others are dragging their feet, displaying a reluctance to integrate eco-friendly practices into their operations.

The road to sustainability also comes with financial considerations. With the bike industry experiencing periods of upheaval, including the COVID-induced cycling surge followed by significant losses for major brands, allocating resources to sustainability initiatives requires careful reevaluation of priorities.

Despite the challenges, there’s an optimistic outlook for the industry. Globally valued at about $64.6 billion in 2022, the bike industry is projected to double in value by 2030. This growth coincides with many companies setting ambitious targets for emissions reduction by that same year.

However, achieving sustainability goals goes beyond mere financial investment. It requires a holistic approach, ensuring that companies allocate the necessary resources to drive meaningful innovation and foster resilience in the face of evolving market dynamics. As industry experts emphasise, sustainability efforts should not be treated as mere checkboxes but as opportunities to transform and strengthen businesses for the future.

It does look promising, though.The cycling community, both at the grassroots level and within professional circles, is increasingly coming into its role as a steward in combating climate change. Major cycling events like the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia have started implementing sustainability measures, including waste reduction, carbon offsetting, and eco-friendly transportation options. Additionally, cycling teams and sponsors are investing in green initiatives, from using recycled materials in team kits to supporting reforestation projects. This is a hugely important step if the sport we all love will be able to hold on to its sustainability badge of honour.

Tour de France Femmes
Major cycling events like the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia have started implementing sustainability measures. © Profimedia

Eco-friendly practices for cyclists

Of course, on a smaller scale — there are little things we can all do to indicate that we care about climate change. As an individual cyclist, there are simple yet impactful practices that can contribute to a greener planet:

1. Commuting by bike (even once or twice a week): You don’t have to become a die-hard commuter to make a difference. Opting to cycle instead of driving for daily commutes significantly reduces carbon emissions and traffic congestion. Investing in a reliable commuter bike utilising bike lanes and paths and reading up on some best practices can make the transition much more accessible.

2. Choosing sustainable gear: The textile industry has a long and unmistakable connection to climate change and remains one of the largest polluters in the world. When you see what goes into manufacturing a product, development, fabrics, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, retail, more shipping, the thought of even one of those products being wasted just seems unthinkable. And yet, this is the core business model of pretty much every apparel brand on the market. What we are seeing right now — perpetual discounting, companies posting massive losses and even going bust — is a direct result.

So, when purchasing cycling gear, it is crucial to look for brands that prioritise sustainability. Search out apparel made with recycled materials and companies offering warranties or free product repairs. Investing in quality will undoubtedly pay dividends in terms of comfort and sustainability—it will also save you money in the long run!

3. Maintenance and repairs: Likewise, remember that regular bike maintenance not only extends the lifespan of your bike but also reduces the need for new purchases, ultimately lowering your carbon footprint (and saving you cash). Even major brands such as Trek offer recycled bikes now. So, when you can, consider buying from brands that manufacture close to you and be sure to learn the basic bike repair skills.

Supporting sustainable initiatives

In addition to individual actions, cyclists can also make a difference by supporting companies and initiatives that prioritise sustainability:

1. Demand transparency: Advocate for greater transparency regarding the environmental practices and policies of cycling teams, sponsors, and event organisers. Encourage the adoption of sustainability reporting standards and hold organisations accountable for their environmental impact. Likewise, choose bike brands that use ethical practices like fair labour conditions and environmentally friendly production processes. Look for certifications like Fair Trade or B Corp to ensure your purchases align with your values.

2. Educate yourself about carbon offsetting: Flying halfway across the world for a bike trip? Consider offsetting the carbon emissions associated with your cycling activities by supporting reforestation projects or investing in carbon offset programs. Many organisations offer carbon calculators tailored explicitly to cyclists, allowing you to measure and offset your carbon footprint accurately.

3. Attend green events: Support cycling events and races that promote sustainability by implementing eco-friendly practices, such as waste reduction, recycling programs, and carbon offsetting initiatives. By attending and participating in green events, you enjoy the thrill of cycling and contribute to positive environmental outcomes.

Get out there and pedal towards a greener future

So, by supporting the Earth Day mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide — let’s all consider how we can make a difference. The cycling industry, faces a pivotal moment. The road to sustainability demands not only financial investment but also a profound shift in mindset, viewing eco-conscious practices not as mere obligations but as opportunities for growth and resilience.