February 11, 2021
In 2020, we have appreciated more cycling as a mode of transport and what it can offer us – freedom, presence, exercise. We may have also had more time to spend reflecting on the future and what’s important. Moving into 2021, beginning with another lockdown, we want to hold onto a sense of hopefulness about what’s to come – the learning/collective shift that could happen on the other side of this.
Cycling has always been considered the most environmental choice of transport and whilst there’s no denying this, there’s a carbon footprint attached to the manufacturing, transportation, sales of bicycles. There is still a lot we can do to make changes to the cycling industry and this starts with our business.
When making sustainable goals or changes, it can often feel like cycling uphill (numerous hills in fact!), one problem can open up many more, and solving them can feel tough and arduous. For example, when looking at making our supply chain more sustainable – cycling companies with strong, sustainable chains are often in different countries, hence importing these can carry a big carbon footprint. Therefore, it is a matter of weighing up all our options and making small, incremental changes that all contribute towards the wider picture. It can feel difficult, especially when we want to make these changes straight away and on a large scale. However, returning to the cycling hill analogy, by not pushing too hard up that first hill, we can make it up the second and third and so forth!
A circular cycling economy
In an excellent Nerd Alert podcast episode (listen here) they explore the disposable bike economy with Erik Bronsvoort, who puts forward that a revolution is needed in cycling. The industry as it is and the consumerism involved makes it unsustainable and environmentally damaging. He promotes a movement towards a circular economy in cycling, rather than the current linear model where resources are taken from the earth, used, and sent to landfill. Instead, these resources should return to the economy for cyclical re-use. We are looking to ways we can participate in this circular economy in all aspects of our business and repairs.
Cycling is supportive of wellbeing, community, health and we feel our business should reflect that – whether that’s providing discounts for key workers or reducing our recycling and waste to landfill. Over this coming year, we want to strengthen our sustainability goals and want to be transparent about these – using these as opportunities to connect and make a positive impact in our community and industry as a whole. We’ll be working on these using the three pillars of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) to look at our footprint to see which ways we can move forward in 2021 and beyond, and will be posting updates on our social media and blog – watch this space!
To end on a hopeful quote, “the future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating” (John Schaar)- we all have a power to make positive changes, however small they may be.
Here’s our current sustainability goals:
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Read more and purchase Erik Bronsvoort and Matthijs Gerrits’ book “From Marginal Gains to a Circular Revolution: A Practical Guide to Creating a Circular Cycling Economy” here
December 9, 2018
1% For The Planet European Summit 2018!
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Ecosia is a search engine, in the same way that you might use Google or Bing search. With a difference, whilst you are using some aspects of it, the profits from your clicks can go towards planting trees.
“Ecosia have enabled the planting of over 29million trees.”
What has it changed for us?
Well in terms of what do we, (or you) need to change, almost nothing. Which is what makes it such a simple and effective thing to do. We still use Chrome, but instead of Google search, we use Ecosia [www.ecosia.org] and every once in a while click on one of the search result ads. That’s it! If you already use Bing or Yahoo then you’ll not even notice a difference in search results as Ecosia uses those engines by default, but you can also switch to show Google result. If you are effective with your search terms, you can often ensure that the site you want is one of the adverts/top results and so it’s even easier to raise money for tree planting because the ad links are actually what you need.
“Searching with Ecosia is like searching with any other search engine, with one major difference. We use the profit we make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most.”
80% of ad profit plants trees, 100% of it protects your privacy?
80% of their ad revenue profit goes towards planting trees. They don’t track you like most other search engines and they don’t sell on your data. They also are just as transparent about the 3 month turn-around time from your clicks to the money going into the projects. The projects are part of the “rainforest protection programme” run by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“Ecosia is a search engine that uses at least 80% of its profits from search ad revenue for tree planting projects all over the world. By searching with Ecosia, you can help the environment for free.”
The startup company has definitely got a few people talking. They are using something that so many people do a lot of, everyday towards a good cause. They donate approximately 75,000$ per month, That’s more than a few trees every minute with your help. At the moment the projects planting trees are located across South America and North Africa. [Check out their map].
We are not (yet!) suggesting that Ecosia is the the most ecologically sound of the commonly used search engines. Google and Bing/Microsoft use large amounts of renewable energy, and are both moving towards a more ‘carbon neutral’ business model which is great. Ecosia still ‘uses’ the search engines from Bing/Yahoo/Google… and so you could argue it has no real impact. However, we’re a big believer in the increasing need for more trees. They help to keep the earth cooler, help to prevent floods, give shade so that A/C units aren’t needed as much and absorb some of our huge global carbon output. Ecosia for us, remains a step in the right direction towards [our business philosophy]. The energy they use to bring you the actual search results is supplied by a German co-operative company Greenpeace Energy, but the rest is reliant on others.
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What now? Some ideas:
www.ecosia.org (site and search)
Take your own web site(s) into a more sustainable direction! Consider hosting with a company who use renewable energy. An example is www.greengeeks.com/web-hosting/ (one of many, but choose one that fits your needs).
One of the most common cycling related searches is for ‘puncture repair’ or the essential ‘bike shop near me’ for the same reason. For our customers, we offer a call out service where we’ll come and actually collect your bike so that just the puncture repair, or a full bike service can be done in our shop, without you having to transport it. This means that we can get you cycling again as soon as possible, and rather than have lots of customers possibly driving into Brighton in separate cars, we can help reduce the carbon overheads and collect several customers bikes in a single run. This is a little more in-line with our business philosophy.
Fixing a puncture is also a great starting point for anyone wanting to do their own basic bike maintenance. It’s a low cost fix for an everyday problem. At times, an all too common one! In reality, many cycling enthusiasts and repair specialists prefer to replace the tube, rather than apply a repair patch, as it offers a more reliable and stable long-term solution. This is particularly important when you need to rely on your bike for such as commuting, longer rides and where the increasingly reduced weight and form factor of wheels and rims are intolerant of imperfections.
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Let’s face it, even the best fitted patch, is never as good as the evenness and tested tolerance of a new tube. Inside a tire, tubes often wear out in an inconsistent manner and the wear pattern not always visible…. until it blows! Thankfully these days there are lots of off-the-shelf ways to minimise flat tyres. Probably the best option for most regular cyclists, are puncture resistant tyres. These are often great value, last ages and for most people mean almost no flats! Some cyclists even go so far as to return to solid tyres. Although with this choice comes a weight and handling compromise.
Commuting to work on a bike is definitely a luxury, especially when the weather is more favorable and the distance into work and back can be a great start an end to any day. So if and when you find yourself annoyed or just frustrated at the side of the road, looking down at that air-less tyre on your bike…. we know how that feels and we always aim to remove the hassle, and get you and your bike back on the road running it’s best so you can avoid the car and the inevitable jams.
Call in if we can help you with making sure that your bike is running its best:
There is always the spare wheel option……. anyone?
The London to Brighton journey by bike has become infamous during it’s yearly outing. An estimated 15000+ people, supporting a variety of charities during the larger organised events in June with many others riding the 54+mile stretch during quieter times or as part of one of the smaller ride-outs. With everyone in one form or another braving the category 4, 236m climb at the Beacon.
I’ve done the route in several ways, including on a fixed gear bike with no seat, which was neither what i’d intended, nor something i’d recommend doing again (My seat post snapped before i’d even got out of London). But everyone who comes down that Ditching Road, past CycleWand’s doorstep has a feeling of accomplishment, whether it be for the first time or the n’th time.
Start line: Clapham Common, London, SW4 9DF // Finish line: Brighton seafront, Madeira Drive, BN2 1TW
Unless you’re a seasoned cyclist over these kind of distances it can easily feel that once you have come up Turners Hill, you’re nearly there. However you are not, and unless there are the usual event crowds or friends to keep you moving, this is a point where you might feel in need of a break. There are some great insights and tips on the best places to stop and take a break on several personal cycling blogs and forums, this one included [route tips]. Bare in mind however, that unlike Ditching Beacon,Turners Hill didn’t even make it onto the list of ‘Top 10 Toughest climbs in the Sussex Dolomites’ that Dave Parsons put together [Link], so be prepared!
The latter part of the route is equally as enjoyable, and probably more so as the landscape is perhaps more rural as you make your way through some central parts of Sussex, well away from London and directly through the South Downs as you peak at the Beacon. Having made it through (or up and over) that, the final downward run all the way into Brighton is amazing. Catch the time of day right and you can be coming into a great sunset! Find yourself bombing down the hill a little earlier, and you can call in 🙂 – We’re at 83 Ditchling Road, and if you get held up when the lights go red at the Level, look right…. that’s us!
Some coming London to Brighton 2018 events that you could join:
Sunday 17th June 2018 – [BHF Link]
Sunday 16th September 2018 – [bike4cancer Link]
Saturday 22nd September (OFF-road) – [BHF Off-Road Link]
Other useful links:
Cool-off cycling routes near Brighton, if you’re not too tired:
In writing this I realised how all too easy it is to fall into the ‘trap’ of starting off on a negative, when actually all I wanted to do was highlight what a great idea it is to re-use old bread and use it as part of the beer making process! Any steps towards raising awareness and dealing with the excessive amounts of food waste is a good thing.
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Re-using old bread in the beer making process is far from a new concept. However, what is really positive is that some major supermarkets are not only stocking the beer, they are getting actively involved in the concept. They’re bringing the idea in-part into their own business model and that can be significant for change.
Mainstream media highlights new brewing venture
The Guardian newspaper recently highlighted a partnership between the Hackney Brewery and the food waste charity Feedback (article links below). The brewery has created a craft beer made entirely from waste bread. This will hopefully make the idea popular enough to make a dent in the 24million slices of bread that currently end up in the bin. Even better, the company has committed to further helping the charity by directing profits right back at Feedback. So now the wider issue of food waste continues to be one that we are all aware of and can work towards reducing.
“All profits will go straight to Feedback. Stuart has just been named at the World Economic Forum in Davos as one of 30 leaders to inspire ambition and mobilise action to reduce food loss and waste globally.” (TheGuardian)
Food waste is significant
Bread is apparently the most wasted food item in the UK, so it makes up a large part of the estimated 15m tons of food waste that we produce per year. We can all aim to reduce our waste. As a business we are always looking for and implementing ways that we can be more environmentally responsible. [Our vision]
Video links: www.bbc.co.uk/uknews/turning-bread-into-beer-to-fight-food-waste www.bbc.co.uk/uknews/whats-causing-britains-food-waste
Further reading and background information on food waste: www.feedbackglobal.org www.theguardian.com/uknews/raise-a-toast-and-tackle-food-waste www.bbc.co.uk/uknews/turning-bread-into-beer
December 18, 2017
Sometimes we forget where we are, that we are in a place of life and living, we forget that we are all connected and that we are fully intertwined with everything and everyone and whether we like it or not everything moves and changes for us, for me there is no denying that life appears before me how I imagine it to be and it is forever shaping into an outward projection of my inner thoughts and feelings.
The two Brake the Cycle trips I was involved with helped connect me to my inner world and as a result a beautiful experience was created.
On the bike I couldn’t help but be in a good place, realising the value of nature I can’t help but feel good when I’m in it, surrounded by it, when new panoramas of life appear in front of me at every moment, when my blood is pumping through my veins after an intense hill climb and my celebrations of achievement are met by the sweaty hugs of those around me, when I was totally parched and am offered a precious gulp of thirst quenching water from a fellow rider, when a beautiful lake or river appeared just as I needed a cooling dip.
There is something about travelling by pedal power as a group in nature which changes you, you feel a sense of community, you feel people are there to back you, you feel and tap into a power that resides in all of us which alone we rarely have the courage to explore, it’s when you feel supported that you can move mountains (or at least cycle over them), and you feel totally connected.
I can often find myself isolated and alone in my little bubble of life, the weight of carrying the burdens of the world can sometimes feel heavy, Brake the Cycle was a great way to shift those burdens and to break the habit of thought that placed me there in the first place.
I felt that Brake the cycle was going to be a ‘fun holiday’ it turned out to be far more, it was a lesson in teamwork, community, sharing, giving, adapting, stamina and virtue, it was an experience that I just could not get from a ‘holiday’.
For Brake the Cycle teamwork as a word doesn’t cut it, it really was deeper than that as each adventure ultimately became a nomadic community which flowed harmoniously, everyone held together (not literally, often we split into groups whilst riding) and shared in the ups and downs of the road, the sense of achievement that these trips give are undeniable, the momentum and motivation combined with the ability to apply the principles learnt to my life have been a game changer.
Brake the Cycle has become a metaphor for my life, a different way of being, a reminder to celebrate, share and contribute to the world around me, and to create a better life for everyone while having fun and constantly challenging myself.
To back this up the trip included sessions with Chris Hardy a solid Coach and mentor who really helped me to extract the true value of these experiences, a value that exceeds any monetary price, a value that adds to the quality of the life I live, and to me that is priceless.
I really love what Joe and the Brake the Cycle team have achieved here, a value wrapped package with real nourishment for the soul, beauty for the eyes, and friends for your heart.
Brake the Cycle offers a truly life enhancing adventure at a fantastic price.
Check out their website here for more information, if you tell them I sent you, you may get some bonuses on the road!
Hope to see you on tour soon!
October 13, 2017
One thing I’ve done more of this year is read. I’ve always been a huge fan of reading often finding myself agreeable to the contents of most the books I read, this is largely due to always searching out books that I hope I can learn from.
Some books and writers stir me in ways that others are unable to do, they have the ability to from out of nowhere pull my emotional choke cords and fill my entire body with an energetic charge one that lifts and inspires me to take bigger actions, to make a bigger impact and to start giving back and making a difference now.
The story of Yvon Chouinard and his company Patagonia Works in his book “Let My People Go Surfing” is one example of this awesome life charging power bank of a book.
In his book (which partially doubles as his life story) Yvon describes that a large part of his success is his perspective on making “the best” consumer products, he also describes a time when he questioned “why he was in business?”
I will digress now to my own life a couple of years ago when I was looking into companies ethos, mission statements and values so I could myself become a more responsible consumer the one I found closest to my own core values was Patagonias brief but perfect sentence:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”.
I was sold.
Back to Yvons burning question, what I gathered from reading his book was that he already had his answer (although he points out he did not know it at the time) and it was the very same thing that put him in business in the first place.
In his book Yvon describes his unique perspective of “the best” (my interpretation was that it is a mix of doing the right thing for all involved and common sense), he strives to makes things that last and that are valued for what they are intended and what they cost, not only the cost to the consumer but to the environment, this is apparent in his attention to detail that traces right back to the production methods used for the raw materials of his products.
Yvon has strived to do the right thing whilst making his garments, he has pursued the best* materials and the most environmentally friendly methods and has always paid a fair price for them.
His understanding of the clothing industry and how globally destructive it has become is not a reason for him to bow out of the industry politely and to turn a blind eye, but to continually implement consistent changes to his company to inspire a new less harmful way of business and a better world.
Like anyone Yvon and his companies are not immune to mistakes but when they are made he will always take responsibility and correct them by immediately putting things right whatever the cost.
His personal philosophy spreads much further, it’s interwoven into the very fabric of the company, Yvon has not only been making the best products, he has simultaneously been building the best business ship to carry and share his values, one that embraces the ethos of doing the right thing whilst building the best products, this philosophy has washed right through his life and work, to his people and to the environment.
As a result Yvon has built a company that stands true to the mission statement and if you were to ask him now why he was in business he may say that he is leading the field of environmentally conscientious businesses by creating and implementing solutions that other companies are too frightened to do, or he might just say he is doing his best to do the right thing for himself, humanity and the planet.
Imagine the global difference it would make if more of us were like Yvon and were brave enough to “do the right thing”.
We know for the sake of our delicate ecosystem which supports us that we can not afford not to.
I hope that others will also look to his success and take steps to follow suit.
*Organic, fair trade and top quality