Trash Day August 30, 2009
I like to think that the bicycle industry is green. At the bike shop, we sell and promote clean energy and good health and we try to live that way as well; but we do produce waste and have to deal with it in a hands on way.
As much as it pains me to say it, 99% of the world's bicycles, come from stinking factories in China or Taiwan. They arrive on this continent by container ship and are distributed by freight truck to warehouses and ultimately to the retail outlets like ours. They are packaged in cardboard and paper and zipties. As we assemble the bikes this packaging is separated and we store it until it is time to deal with it. Soft good shipments also create cardboard waste as well as #4 plastic. During our busy months, we store a lot of cardboard.
Repairs create significant waste as well. This is largely tires and tubes, which we keep separate, as well as the steel and aluminum from commonly replaced parts such as chains, cogsets, and wheels. We have separate bins for each of these as well as for glass bottles and office paper, catalogs and junk mail.
Twice a month we make a run to the Johnston Landfill to recycle and dispose of common trash. This past run we had 500 pounds of combined stuff. I'd say the six bags of garbage weighed 100 pounds total and the rest was dropped for recycling including 75 tires, 10 wheels, 30 pounds of steel, and roughly 200 pounds of cardboard.
No one individual or business can completely eliminate their carbon footprint, its just the nature of the human beast, but it sure does help put things in perspective when you handle the material that passes through your personal wastestream. If you are at all curious about how you personally contribute to the ever expanding elevation of "Mount Johnston", I highly recommend a trip to the Johnston Landfill.