When we’re looking at ways industry can lessen it’s impact on the environment there are a few key elements. Reshoring is something we’ve talked about a lot. Shifting industry from offshore to onshore can have some really positive effects. Degrowth and the circular economy are also key elements though, and that’s what we want to talk about today.
Greater production levels lead to greater waste, emissions and in general a greater effect on the environment. Even with green business practices this remains true. Shipping goods, obtaining raw materials, most production methods all involve a carbon cost. By controlling the desire to grow as much as possible we can have a positive effect on the environment.
The circular economy model and degrowth can work synergistically across the bike industry to ensure we are doing what we can. By participating in the circular economy we are able to limit the level of growth required within the bike industry. Which we should point out can grow more before it has grown excessively. Or at least we believe there is an argument for it.
What Is Degrowth?
Degrowth at it’s core is the idea that growth is not an inherently good thing for an economy or industry to do. Rather growth should stop when it ceases to be beneficial, or when it becomes harmful.
A great example of this is the fossil fuel industry. Unchecked growth in the industry has led to the worsening of climate change. If we compare this to something like green energy that has room for a lot more growth without becoming harmful we can see how growth can be good but is not always good.
Degrowth is not about shrinking all industry and the economy in general but rather keeping the growth of different sectors in check. Bike production has a negative impact on the environment, in the form of mining, shipping, production waste and emissions. While growing the industry may be a net good, we still need to acknowledge the carbon cost of the industry.
Once we acknowledge our role in climate change and identify where the problems are, we can keep the growth of the industry in check. That means not mining too much raw material, using production methods and facilities to achieve net zero emissions, and cutting back on the carbon cost of shipping. Just to name a few things.
How Does The Circular Economy Help Degrowth?
The circular economy allows us to check the growth of the industry before it is able to get out of hand. By making sure that we are able to get the most out of each bike, its frame, wheels, componentry, etc., we reduce reliance on raw material.
By reducing our reliance on raw materials we can limit the use of international shipping and the need for mining on refining materials for bikes. That means having an active effect on the degrowth of some of the world’s most carbon costly industries.
The circular economy also directly affects the degrowth of the bike industry though. By refurbishing and reusing bikes from older bikes we are able to limit the production of newer bikes. If a bike goes to a dump at the end of it’s lifespan the rider gets a new bike, but because that bike has been taken out of circulation a second new bike is produced for a new rider.
It’s overly simplistic to say the circular economy would half bike production of course. It probably wouldn’t even come close. But it can still make a difference to the number of bikes produced for the same amount of people.
If, like us, you believe that bikes are a great tool in the fight against climate catastrophe then you want as many people on bikes with the lowest carbon cost possible. Fostering degrowth through the circular economy allows us to do that.