Just on a note to start the blog, it seems like an odd time to be talking about changing your lifestyle for any other reasons than flattening the curve of a global pandemic. But I think it’s important for people to continue to consider how their actions will affect the environment and prepare for changes they can make to reduce their impact after this all blows over. Equally I believe that the environment may throw up larger global challenges that last much longer periods of time in the future, so small changes to your lifestyle now could go a long way to keeping us racing and riding all year round.
I am planning to write a series of blogs about ways in which a cyclist can have less of an impact on the environment. As I talked about in the blog that I did last year on a similar topic, cycling is considered a means of green transport and is encouraged globally as a way of getting around, lowing your carbon footprint. However, when looking at the professional side of the sport there are many changes that are going to need to be made to ensure that the drive for performance and entertainment doesn’t come at the detriment to our environment. So, with that in mind I am going to start this series of blog posts with: Cycling apparel and the power that you have as a consumer.
It is quite a well-known fact that the general fashion industry is one of the most harmful to the environment, both because of the ways in which fabrics are manufactured and because of the increased consumerism mentality causing many to buy more than they may need. Sports clothing is no different. Cycling clothing can be the difference between winning and losing a race or equally the difference between looking like a whopper and looking somewhat cool in your tight-fitting body suit. This has naturally led to many companies cutting corners to produce faster fabrics and cheaper materials with better properties, without considering their environmental impact in manufacturing and packaging. There is increasing demand for higher end kit as cycling, especially in the UK, attracting a more middle-class participator. There are now many brands to choose from, so straight away you are given an opportunity to make a difference with your power as a consumer.
If you are in the market for new cycling clothing, then it is worth factoring in the brands stance on the environment. One company that has made some big changes to become more sustainable is MAAP who currently sponsor Trinity Racing, the team that I am riding for. I am really proud to be wearing their kit as they are showing they understand the angle that kit manufacturers need to take to ensure that their production is sustainable. I was very happy to see that none of our 2020 team kit was sent to the Trinity riders with no packaging, making it easier for everyone and producing less waste.
Some of the products that MAAP have made and goals that they have set out are impressive. Their ultimate goal being to make 100% of their on-bike apparel from recycled yarns in the future, and 100% of their garment bags compostable by 2022 (currently 95% are compostable). This kind of proactivity to reduce the environmental impact of their products puts them in the right category for cyclists that are in the market for new clothing but want to use their power as a consumer to reward companies that are stepping forward to make these sustainable changes. (to see all the other targets and read more about MAAPs stance on the environment go to https://eu.maap.cc/blogs/news/our-road-to-a-more-sustainable-future)
This sustainable announcement by MAAP comes after the launch of their first recycled yarn jersey where “fabrics contain a range of fibers, with combinations of 100% post-consumer polyester and up to 65% pre-consumer sustainable premium elastane recycled from industrial waste”. This to me, provides a no brainer when it comes at no extra cost to the consumer to make a sustainable choice. Obviously, there are other companies that are making changes that follow a sustainable path and with your own research and taste in clothing you can make that choice yourself.
With not everyone being able to afford to buy their cycling clothing from high end places there is a hope that the technology for creating recycled yarns trickles down to very affordable price points. This makes it all the more important and helpful for companies like MAAP to lay the path for others to follow. People can still try their best to pass on old clothing that they have grown out of to extend its life span, or even try patching up ripped clothing from crashes to make a good pair of turbo shorts. Equally, wearing ripped jerseys or undervests works well as extra insulation during the winter and with a winter jacket over the top you won’t know it’s there. On a similar note if something gets too old, worn or ripped then you can take inspiration from MAAPs recycled yarns and use that as material for repairing less damaged clothing.
Finally, there is greater and greater interest in aerodynamically fast fabrics, going further than just tight-fitting clothing to ones with trip lines and other properties that allow wind to pass over them with less drag. These fabrics will take time to develop in more sustainable ways. Fabrics which prove to be faster might not be able to be replicated with recycled materials, but I hope that research and development companies out there do take into account the environment when designing new skinsuits or socks so that any steps that can be made more sustainable are taken. For me I believe this will be done but only if cyclists show their demand for more sustainable clothing by purchasing from places that are making those changes now. At the end of the day it all comes down to where the money can be made.
In conclusion, your power as a consumer will determine the future of sustainable apparel manufacturing. You can purchase from places like MAAP to encourage them and other kit manufacturers to further develop their sustainable ranges. This will help ensure that every possible opportunity is taken to reduce the impact of the production of aerodynamic fabrics that may not be able to be made from recycled yarns.
I will be doing more blog posts about other specific areas in the sport where us as racing cyclists and social cyclists can make small changes to reduce our carbon footprint. Stay tuned to hear what’s next.