Eco-friendly bamboo bicycles
“Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants, adding as much as three feet in a single day. That growth rate, along with the giant grass’ sturdy hollow stalks (with a strength-to-weight ratio similar to that of steel), may explain why bamboo is being heralded by bikers, environmentalists and social entrepreneurs as a material with no carbon footprint and the potential to provide cheap wheels in poor countries. Serious spandex-clad cyclists like these eco-friendly bamboo bicycles, as do tattooed bike messengers and thrifty Ghanaian shopkeepers.”
I looked in to those last fall… The one I found at the time commercially available (I was not willing to DIY) was so far outside my price range it was funny. And I wasn’t sold on the resin used to hold it together – but I think it had a bamboo fork and handlebar set too, I may be wrong though.
It will be neat watching how this material gets incorporated into the consciousness of the US consumers. (I’m not bringing up bamboo fabric, I tried but just couldn’t be positive so I’ll drop it). I’ve always wondered, given its structural integrity and quick growth, why we don’t use it more.
I think it could be a sustainable alternative to
carbon, which is already super expensive. I doubt
it will be a mass produced affordable element for
I raced against tyler last year when he rode that.
He schooled me.
What’s the story on bamboo fabric, I’ve seen the tags, feels nice, I don’t know anything about it.
Also, this is how they work on buildings in Asia, that scaffolding is all tied bamboo, it’s pretty amazing;
Of all the components that make up a bicycle, the tubing is probably the thing with the lowest environmental impact, ounce for ounce, and the greatest longevity. I’m guessing that the worst offender is the tires and tubes, since they get replaced frequently and are completely not recyclable. Chains have a high energy input, but at least in theory, they can be recycled.
Want to make an eco-friendly bicycle? Figure out how to make a durable, biodegradable tube.
Bamboo fabric == rayon. It’s bamboo based rayon, but basically they just turn bamboo into rayon. Some is manufactured responsibly and sustainably, most is not. I steer clear (but I buy almost all my stuff at Goodwill, where it’s not common yet).
Turns out I’m less negative later in the mornings
The Bamboo Bicycle Studio is coming to Pittsburgh later this year. For a few hundred dollars you can walk in on Friday and out on Sunday with a bamboo frame you sort of made yourself.
I would think natural rubber tires with cotton casings and latex tubes would be pretty acceptable. I have some old sew-up tires that are pretty well on their way back to nature, literally dis-integrating.
it really depends on where the bamboo is coming from and shipped from, in my opinion.
I do have biodegradable water bottles. I’m not sure that they’re a good idea, but they haven’t sprung a leak yet.
I do just fine with a regular re-usable plastic water bottle (with a filter!).
first of all, the last thing i want my tires and tubes to do is degrade, bio or otherwise! (a joke, i know the term we’re talking about here is greater than the life of a well-ridden tire.)
i think, as a society, we’ve taken the idea of biodegradability too seriously, at least for the way we currently do things. biodegradable mass is actually detrimental to landfills, which is where the vast majority of it is going to end up (i also think landfills can be a reasonable solution, but that’s a different discussion).
if we could find a cost/energy-effective way to manufacture and recycle the materials of disposable bicycle parts, that would be the best tack to take, in my opinion. on the other hand, given the incremental amount of good it would do, i don’t think we can consider it a priority. i’d be much more perturbed to find out my rubber came from hacked down brazillian rain forest than to hear it couldn’t be recycled.
My favorite is my bright yellow bike pgh water bottle.
i’m sort of in the market for another bottle, and may go for the bike pittsburgh one, but my jolly pumpkin artisan ales bottle is probably going to be the best i own for a while.
all my biodegradable waste goes into one of my compost piles – but mine are constructed of palates and I’ve got three going (fourth to start next month). I’m weird, I like composting.
I also use a glass mason jar as a water bottle, though I do have a nalgene I use sometimes, I prefer the mason jar. Yep, it’s heavy, and it’s breakable. I’m sure it will break and does slow me down. But I can also use it to can tomato sauce, buy bulk olive oil, or make yogurt. I like mason jars
I also have a camelbak, but I haven’t used it in about two years. It tastes like rubber, which while not unpleasant, just isn’t as nice as a mason jar. But it is handier for climbing, when it’s easier to mouth around for the spout than locate and unlid a mason jar while hanging on a cliff.
compostable things sort of bother me. like, the forks and spoons you get at the co-op. sure, they’re compostable, but no one i know has the equipment needed to do it. you can’t just throw it in your compost pile and hope for the best.
Oh HV, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Most supposedly “compostable” plastics are not at all compostable – unless you’re an industrial composting site that actively heats their compost to over 150F (it’s not unusual to reach 180F). All the compostable plastics have to do is meet these criteria to get stamped and logo’d and marketed:
The ASTM D6400 Standard for compostable plastics specifies three criteria for compostability
* At least 90 percent conversion to carbon dioxide, water and biomass via microbial assimilation.
* Occurs at the same rate as natural materials (i.e. leaves, grass food scraps)
* Occurs within a time period of 180 days or less
* Less than 10 percent of test material remains on a 2mm sieve
* No impact on plants, using OECD Guide 208
* Regulated (heavy metals less than 50 percent of EPA prescribed threshold)
2mm is bigger than you’d think, and that doesn’t change the fact that you now have a bunch of tiny, little, pieces of PLASTIC in your compost. Sure they may have been made from veggie (soy) oil instead of petroleum, but that doesn’t make them good for the garden.
Typically, our culture prefers a decent percentage of our foods wetter and hotter than most single use truly compostable containers will withstand (non-plasticized paper plates? won’t hold baked beans. the ‘wax’ on coffee cups that keeps them together and water proof? plastic). Reusable is always a better choice. But maybe they’re still better than standard plastic. I don’t know.
/rant. sorry guys. I really like unadulterated dirt. Dirt is awesome.
Doesn’t matter how biodegradable something is if it’s trapped In a completely anaerobic environment typical of large landfills once you go down below the top layers of trash.
+1 cburch. Better to generate less waste in the first place.
I seem to remember some landfill being excavated and them finding newspaper (PAPER) from 40 of 50 years past. Granted I think the newer styles of landfills do a better job still always better to try and generate less waste and find ways of re-using items and keeping them out of the landfills in the first place.
+1 cburch, AND everyone with a few inches of soil should compost, at least their veg scraps if not all (real) compostables. Vermicomposting can be done indoors, but having done that unintentionally once, I’m scared to try and do it on purpose. I’ve been known to collect compost from others who “can’t” (darn HOAs).
Funny, this thread has reminded me how much I like bamboo at exactly the time I’m digging up the yard and deciding how to organize it, I think a giant planter of bamboo that I can move (and it can’t escape from) is totally called for. End of next summer, I may have the raw materials for a bamboo frame, I’ll post here if I do.
i want to set up composting in my back yard, but i’m terrified that the dogs will figure out how to get into it and wreak havoc. it just seems like too tempting of a target for them to resist.
@cburch, and others…
We compost and have no problems with animals (dogs, rabbits, urban rodents, raccoons, deer and probably others I’d never expected to see in in the middle of Squirrel Hill).
The key is to compost only vegetable matter and to minimize cooked vegs. Worms, microbes, etc feast on dead veg. The animals you want to discourage eat fresh or eat higher up on the food chain.
A couple of years ago we interrupted composting due to some construction work. I noticed that (for our household) about a third of the volume of weekly trash was accounted for by compostables.
Composting! If you go to this class, you get an awesome animal-proof bin for $40: http://www.prc.org/community_adultedu.html
I did it and now have two bins going. One of my three dogs is a very, very food-driven beagle and he hasn’t even tried to get in there. This is the dog that routinely licks the ground where the grill stands and digs into the trashcans.
The woman that teaches the classes is really friendly and it’s a great deal. These bins usually go for around $100 so it’s a terrific deal.
Do you think I can say “deal” any more times in my post? Sheesh. Sorry about the Friday incoherence.
cburch – ahlir and pinky are setting you straight.
I break all the composting rules (except for the whole no plastics/no metals bit). I put dairy and meat byproducts in my bins, including bones after they’ve been used for soup. I compost used catlitter (I use pine tree based, you can compost wheat or newspaper based ones too). The only thing we don’t put in that technically could be added are the egg yolks my fiance won’t eat. It exponentially increases the nasty factor instantly inside the kitchen, so sadly they go down the drain (or turned into mayonnaise).
Only once did we have an issue with a raccoon getting into a fight with what sounded like a whooping crane (owl? who knows) over the compost in the middle of the night. Other than that, they may come and go but there’s no mess and no smell. The palates keep big animals out, but anything else can get in. In the winter we keep a palate over top to keep the crows out since the piles are dormant and they’ll dig and strew stuff all over (not in the summer, though). But mice, raccoons, whatever foraging = free aerating and turning. I’m in Penn Hills, not exactly a wildlife refuge, though there is a vacant wooded lot behind us.
My mother uses two of those same bins you get at the composting class, also in the heart of the city, and composts like a normal person, and has never had any issues. Well, one of her bins got too dry, and she had to water it a bit to get it to break down properly.
Compost is fun
Bamboo bicycles are for aesthetics – not for any sort of carbon competitive eco-friendly aspects. When you crunch the numbers it just doesn’t work out. HV got it right on recycling the materials we already use to build bikes out of.
That said, if you want to become a resin master, building a bamboo frame is a good way to start.
I have a friend who’s like a composting (and other areas of efficiency/frugality/eco-goodness) super-hero. He even throws his old blue jeans in there. Once in a while he finds a zipper, or a button, in the dirt. Before I had a garden of my own, he used to let me harvest some of his lettuce, or he’d make me a salad when I went to visit. My friends and I started calling it “Wayne’s pants salad”.
I’m not sure where I’d get or what I’d do with a bamboo bike. I appreciate the concern over the non-recyclability of the bike tires, but I figure that any worn-out bike tire took a lot less whatever to make than a car tire, and its use caused the non-consumption of who-knows-how-much petroleum, so I have no ill feelings about not being able to recycle them.
I do have one dead bike tire in the car, which I figure can get re-purposed into a dangle-the-picnic-basket-off-a-tree-branch-at-a-campsite tool, or some such.
Re: Composting, I have a 20×40 space in my lot in which we bury all food scraps. The most recent hole is covered by an old flying saucer the kids outgrew, plus a big branch. Older holes are covered by grass clippings. This all used to be almost unusable gravel, thanks to a 1991 storm sewer project that runs through the yard, but in 19 years I have the richest dirt in that plot.
@ejwme, why is the FI hating on yolks? I say make him eat them!
Oh I’ve tried everything. He’s better than he was, so there’s still hope yet. Given that he’s a picky eater and had an unfortunate incident with eggs as a young bachelor, I’m just happy he’s eating them at all.
Besides, I need an excuse to make home made mayonnaise, which I have to make in such quantities (due to egg yolks being a certain size) that – oh nos! – I then have to make potato salad to avoid wasting it, which I then must eat quickly in large quantities. To keep it from spoiling, of course.
what? bamboo bicycles?
Composting cat feces? Um. I guess you can’t keep the neighborhood strays out of your garden, either, but I would question whether your backyard compost pile gets hot enough to kill the potential pathogens reliably. Especially the ones that encyst.
How about running everything through the garbage disposal? I think the sewer system is constructed to digest biomass, isn’t it? Maybe even those hard-to-digest plastics.
I don’t have a problem with little bits of non-petroleum based plastic in my garden, to be honest. Did you ever eat a hydroponic tomato? Or mix sand with your clay so it would drain well enough that your lettuce could get roots through it? I’m more concerned about the crap that falls out of the air when it rains (and has rained, over the last 100 years…).
I have a vermicompost bin. I’d be happy to toss a few “biodegradable” forks and such in there to see what happens. The worms make just about everything else disappear. I saw a demo once, a guy had tossed jeans into a worm bin. He pulled out the skeleton. Apparently they used synthetic thread, so it was this web of synthetic thread in the outline of jeans, and a zipper, all the cotton was gone.
I’ve heard that the worms won’t touch the fork/spoon, but I’m really interested to see what happens if you try. They have them at EEFC and I think Whole Foods (an excuse to try their delicious prepared foods bars, EEFC has the best soups).
My cats are indoor cats, we never have animal visitors, and they go to the vet regularly – no infestation of pathogens there. But as to questions of whether compost piles (in general) get hot enough to destroy pathogens, there’s a ridiculously well researched book that covers the temperatures, times, pathogens (all sorts), and methods by which they are destroyed via passive (and active) composting: http://humanurehandbook.com/
I don’t go that far, but I am no longer afraid to compost anything at all (except plastics). Warning – reading that book will convince you that composting can save the world.
Since this thread turned into talk about compost, there’s a vermicomposting class in Mt Lebanon next Thursday the 9th being held by the Pennsylvania Resource Council. It’s at the library in the evening.
I’m planning to go and am just beside myself excited about it. You can use the same link I posted above for more info. Just scroll down to PRC West Vermicomposting Classes.
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