Sustainability in all things is key to how we work at Symmetrys. In #6 of Velocity we highlighted the difficulty faced with trying to recycle old Lycra cycling (and other sports) clothing. In the build sector, we are currently championing the re-use of steel to develop a circular economy in order to reduce the amount of new product required. This is crucial if we are ultimately going to reduce waste. Although tricky, this campaign is beginning to gain traction in the sector and is one to watch carefully. Earlier this year, we took this idea and transferred it to Lycra clothing by introducing our clients and partners to Musizi Joy Foundation (formerly called Joy for Children and Communities) a charity in Uganda who provide courses on basic bike maintenance and the necessary tools (including your used cycling gear) to enable local young men and women to earn a wage, and compete in team competitions.
We caught up with charity founder Sam Mutton via email for an update and he told us, “Buying new things from Europe gets hit with a high import tax of 40+% which is why donations of second hand things are so important, as they are not taxed. The most useful donations are always good quality bib shorts or even spare bike parts. The rough and demanding terrain, mixed with extreme heat and high perspiration, mean things don’t last anywhere near as long as they do in Europe. We are truly grateful for all the donations. Thank you to all who support our programme in Uganda.”
We’re really thrilled with the response we had to this story from the build community and, as well as being an excellent way of passing on your used clothing, we know that this will go a long way to helping to develop skills in Ugandan communities. But it still relies on us giving away arguably serviceable sports clothing, making room to buy more. We think we need to go further than this if things are really to change.
‘Shop in your own wardrobe’ is not new with numerous podcasts and blogs covering the topic from a fashion angle, but how do we make it desirable to the avid cyclist following every new trend? Some of this initiative could lie with manufacturers and retailers. Take Milltag, for example, the cycling clothing company who are proudly not overly fashion driven, but focus on high quality for longevity. They also offer a custom range which means they are not overproducing items which could potentially go to waste. And although there are others with equally ‘green’ credentials, the issue is that we need to convince more cyclists (and let’s face it, we’re a discerning bunch aesthetically) that there is merit in being seen in the same kit. In short, it needs to be something we truly treasure.
‘Let’s get analytical’
So, let’s make it competitive! If you added up the total distance your favourite cycle jersey has done, what would it be? If you worked out how high it had climbed over the course of its lifetime, how impressed would you be with its performance? It might feel like a task too far retrospectively, but starting to do this now with your favoured piece of kit will give it greater value – and probably make you want to wear the same one over and over if it (and you) are to climb up the rankings. It’s a small idea – but we all need to make some very small changes to the way we do things if we are to make big changes to how things are.
Maybe we need to ask those nice folks at Peloton to add ‘jersey stats’ to their data..?