Sustainability is a terrible word. It gives us hope and reassurance that we can do something good, but, in reality, only a couple of actions we take as humans are really 'sustainable.' The one difference we can
make to the planet is choosing what amount of damage we cause.
Cycling is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is desperate for us to continuously consume to keep growing. Growth is the elephant in the room; the only way to run a business in modern society is through continuous growth to keep everyone happy in the end; growth without destruction is a fallacy.
Many of us want shiny new things, the latest and greatest bikes and parts. This urge is driven by intelligent marketing teams and the media (yes, I realize that includes me). But the reality is that the worst thing you can do is buy any new product. One of Patagonia's most successful adverts ever was one that said "Don't buy this jacket." In an attempt to tell their consumers that buying a jacket–even one that comes from the most ethical sources–is worse than continuing to use their old stuff. They reportedly sold more jackets than ever after this campaign.
A few articles recently have caused a stir about this topic: Pole's attack on carbon fiber (we are currently working on some other articles that fights for the side of carbon manufacturers)
, my GreenOil review and their approach to clean, man-made chemical and petroleum free products. Other brands have also been vocal in the past like Commencal and now Sick Bicycles are having a dig at carbon too.
If you don't dribble crude oil-based products on to your chain, does it make any difference at all when the fifteen biggest cargo boats in the world burn more oil than all road vehicles combined? What about asbestos, lead and nickel brake dust heading into the atmosphere and then soil every time your not on the Deathgrip (that's 100% of the time for me) program? When you start the month with a fresh tire and finish it with a semi-slick, what happened to those sharp-edged vulcanized rubber tread blocks you paid for?
Just because bikes are not the biggest polluters, especially compared to boats, planes and construction, does that mean we should avoid giving a damn, or does consumer demand make the real difference? If we all order locally grown bamboo bikes would that mean that one of those super-boats will lap the world one less time in the next few years, or will it be filled with some other disposable crap?
Sick Bicycles having a rant this week about carbon 'ocean fill' on Instagram.
I've been researching this topic a lot recently and am torn between hope and despair. For every positive step forward, there seems to be a monstrous negative. The question here is, does any of this have an effect on what you buy, or where and how you ride?