As a pretty new road cyclist, but a long-time sustainability advocate, my contributions to this blog will be centred more on the topic of making our cycling footprints smaller, before, during and after our rides.
Sustainability is a loaded word, and probably we in the cycling world would like to think about it as how we can sustain ourselves during a long and challenging ride to make it to the end. However, I’d like to suggest a general definition of sustainability that can give us a shared understanding of the concept.
The generally accepted definition of sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ But what does that mean for us cyclists? The GranFondo Canada team (organizers of the RBC GranFondo Whistler and the RBC GranFondo Kelowna) asked the same thing, so we’ve been working with them to develop their own sustainability strategy starting with the RBC GranFondo Whistler. To operationalize the definition of sustainability, we took principles derived from the Natural Step. Here’s what they are and what we, as cyclists, could consider as we ride through the beautiful province we call home…..
- Don’t take stuff out of the ground that cannot be reincorporated into the ecosystem – for example, reduce our use of fossil fuels for energy, or purchase items made from recycled materials. If we start substituting our vehicle trips with bike trips, we reduce our energy use and we can incorporate training into commuting, errands, shopping, etc! And supporting the RBC GranFondo Whistler’s efforts, in conjunction with the RBC Blue Water Project, to encourage tap water use over bottled water also reduces the energy required to manufacture and transport bottled water.
- Don’t put more human made things into the ecosystem than the ecosystem can naturally break down – for example, choose organic cotton (grown without pesticides) or Icebreaker merino wool jerseys (very sustainable – not stinky!) clothing, organic food, and rechargeable batteries where possible. Avoid products (including clothing) with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Check out pedros.com for more earth-friendly, solvent-free bike-care products.
- Protect the natural environment, e.g. forests, wetlands, native species, which support humans and life on earth – for example, purchase hemp and bamboo (fast-growing crops) items; use recycled paper; get involved in your community planning processes that protect the natural environment; eat at restaurants that serve Ocean Wise seafood.
- Avoid systematic barriers that prevent people from meeting their needs – for example, drink Fair Trade coffee to support fair wages for workers; dine at Green Table Network restaurants that support local farmers and producers; support local businesses to ensure a thriving local economy and community. Volunteer at your local food bank or support tripsforkids.org or your local community service society.
And don’t forget to let GranFondo Canada know you support their sustainability efforts!