I know I've been guilty. If I had the money I'd prefer to buy a new bike than fix a puncture or even change he tube on some of the tighter rims. When you get a new set of rubber what happens to the old one? And what about the rejected tyres from quality control? How does this fit in with green credentials? Well late last year I met Laura Zabo and she may have part of the answer.
Upcycling old bike parts is nothing new. I've seen stools, coasters and many weird and wonderful items made from bike parts. My favourite up until now has been my bottle opener made from an old chain. I once made myself a necklace out of an old bottom bracket. Problem was it looked exactly like what it was. A bit of bottom bracket on a shoelace. Even the good looking and or useful pieces tend to be something only cyclists who wanted to show people they were cyclists would buy. As for recycled rubber apart from front mud guards and flower pots I'd not seen anything.
I was wondering around the NEC at the cycle show when I came across Laura Zabo's stall. My eye was caught by a selection of belts made a brand of tyre I run in winter. Of course this meant I needed to buy one so people would know I was a cyclist and at £25 I thought yes good price. As Laura punched numerous holes to make it fit and it turned out I was skinnier than we both thought I perused the rest of the stall. Jewellery, dog collars, guitar straps, a mirror frame and even a Ra-Ra skirt made from innertubes. This was more than the usual stuff so I was intrigued and needed to find out more.
Laura first came across upcycling tyres in Tanzania when in the markets she found vibrant sandals made from old car tyres. As car tyres are dumped and or burnt it's pretty obvious that the situation is unsustainable and ideas must be thought of to deal with the waste. Laura spent the next two years developing her skills in working with rubber and learning the treatments enable production, before starting to sell at trade markets, vegan fairs and online.
But are the products any good. There's no point being green if the stuff doesn't work. Well yes it is. The belts may seen simple but they're highly durable, water proof nd flexible to wear. The jewellery is striking without looking ridiculous which is apparently a good thing. My teenage daughter loves the guitar strap I got her. Very cool she says.Soon to come are more flip flops and gladiator sandals but to be honest when shoes sre being talked about I tend to tune out.
Every piece is made with amazing workmanship. This is no mass produced rubbish. A belt takes a couple of hours to make whilst the amazing skirt might take a day or more. You can feel Laura's passion in every item. This is something she has a real belief in and perhaps the difference is that she isn't herself a cyclist. She's not making stuff for cyclists to say "look at me I ride a bike". She's making stuff to make a difference and perhaps I should let something she mentioned to me to be the last word.
It's not just about upcycling, it's about reducing the waste as well. Next time you get a puncture fix the tube don't just replace it. If even half of us did that imagine the amount of waste we'd save.
Laura's range can be viewed at her website check it out, it's pretty awesome.