Friday, July 17, 2009

Re-cycling

Kao's last post was about a picture book called "Pika Pika" which tells the story of the journey of an abandoned bicycle. It is put out by an organization called JOICFP who donate reconditioned bicycles to grassroots health volunteers in developing countries. I don't know if their activity is well known in Japan or not, as we only found out about them after we were talking about abandoned bicycles recently and looked to see what is being done with them.

Today, I thought I would write about some other organizations that I know of which make good use of used bicycles.
Kao's bike
(Community Cycling Center sticker on KT)

The first organization that I became aware of is called Baisikeli. I found out about them through Copenhagenize. They run a rental bike store in Copenhagen, but they also recondition used bicycles and send them to Africa.

There are a couple of organizations here in Portland that make good use of used bicycles. The Community Cycling Center fixes donated used bikes and sell them. They also run a lot of community oriented programs like teaching children safe cycling. KT (Kao's Trek) is actually from the Community Cycling Center. The Recyclery also sells used bikes. They don't have community programs, but they have quite a lot of bikes and parts. You won't find any top notch racing components there, but if you need some parts for a regular bike to ride around town with, it's a great place to look for parts. I've gotten some parts really cheap there. The nice thing about the Community Cycling Center and the recyclery is that you can take old bikes and parts there. If you have bikes and parts you are not using, but you don't want to simply throw them away, you could give them to Goodwill or some place similar, but if you give them to the Community Cycling Center or the Recyclery, you know they are more likely to be put to good use.

I think the JOICFP's abandoned bicycle program is a good thing, but I think maybe there might be a bit of a discouragement (not from JOICFP, but just in general) to fix and sell used bikes in Japan as that would interfere with business of shops that sell new bikes. That is the case not only of bicycles, but other things as well. Selling used goods has become a big business with big chains such as Book-Off and they are way more profit driven than the thrift shops of the US. It's kind of an unfortunate situation as things that will not fit this business model are more likely to be discarded. On the othe hand, I think things are changing with grass roots activities like community flea markets, so I hope that used bicycles could be sold or re-used more easily in the future. I mentioned in a recent post about how the author James Howard Kunstler thinks we won't have access to a lot of resources in the future and so to be throwing out perfectly usable bicycles and parts into the landfill, I think is not only bad for the environment, but just plain wasteful. New and shiny mamachari bikes can be bought very cheaply, but I think we really ought to start looking at the bigger picture.

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