But I didn't find a recycling symbol anywhere on my to-go box. I was disappointed because it seemed like it should have been compostable/recyclable but it was not. As I mulled over this and my heart broke a little as I trashed the box and lid, I thought about the lengths we go to at Velo+ to recycle, up-cycle, re-purpose, re-use, and generally avoid being jerks to Mama-Nature as much as possible. As much as I'd like to believe riding a bike helps out, the fact is, the bicycle industry can use a lot of packaging and resources, and it can be sad to think about sometimes.
If you've been in our shop, you know we have a lot going on, but some efforts to cut down on waste might not be immediately apparent. Here are a few to ponder and appreciate:
- Bikes: Bikes come in big cardboard boxes. We hang onto some to make some simple partitions where possible in the store. We keep some on hand in case we have to ship a bike for a customer and we give away way more than we ever ship to people who are using them for moving boxes, or shipping bikes on their own. We've even had some customers take them for use in their yards/gardens! The palettes that larger shipments of bikes come in on we put outside and there are people who come by and haul them away to be re-used.
- Additional bike packing materials: We save this to give away or for packaging bikes for shipment.
- Old bicycle parts: Customers frequently ask us for un-usable or broken bike parts. We saved busted wheels for several months for one customer to use as part of his wedding decorations. I brought home some spokes that were bound for the trash and put them into the soil around a house plant to keep the cats from using it as a bed. We've got punctured tubes galore for the taking, and artists and crafts-people come in for them to use in projects.
- Coffee: When we do a pour-over sample of our coffee we're left with a filter and coffee grounds. We have a customer who uses this in his compost for his garden, and sometimes the coffee chaff that comes out of the roaster too. We've got a bunch of coffee mugs that we wash daily so that those who aren't in a rush can enjoy their coffee from a re-usable mug. On top of all that, the Loring Falcon roaster that Vincent uses is the most efficient roaster on the market, saving energy. We even have some customers who bring back their resealable coffee bags to be refilled instead of taking a new one (though the brown bags we use are recyclable and more biodegradable than many coffee bags)
- Beer: We've got the strategic beer reserve in the shop. That produces a lot of bottles and cans. The bottles we schlepp over to Ripple Glass on 87th when our container fills up, the cans I pull out the trash and collect til I can take them to my apartment for curbside pickup. Dave also makes sure good bottles are re-used when he home-brews in the shop. So remember, when you're hanging out enjoying a brewski (or a Mexi-Coke-ski), put your container in the coffee cup basket and not in the trash, or I'll grumble as I sift through old bike cables and greasy bearings looking for bottles and cans.
- Life: Vincent and Julie live close to the shop and frequently ride in. I'm lucky that Dave and I live close to each other and our schedules overlap enough that we can carpool from midtown most days. It's pretty awesome. When we head out to events like Dirty Kanza our riders do an excellent job of carpooling too!
Thanks to everyone for doing your part when you're enjoying your local bike shop to help us be a little more environmentally friendly.