Studies estimate that switching to a bike from a car can reduce your carbon output by more than 10 times cumulatively. Cycling is leading the way in terms of green transportation. Strategies like improving more sustainable ways of production, upcycling or repurposing bikes, and using more environmentally friendly cleaning products are all gaining traction as ways to improve cycling’s impact on the planet. Cleaning is necessary in order to maintain a functioning bike over the course of its use. Effective cleaning can not only ensure a consistent ride but also lengthen the ultimate lifespan of your bike. Using greener cleaners is the natural next step for someone who is looking to minimize their impact on the planet by cycling.
Green cleaning has been defined by the federal government as ‘using products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment.’ In America, this definition is known as Executive Order 13101 and was designed in part to help mitigate both commercial and domestic cleaning practices, aiming to reduce the harmful runoff of harmful chemicals into local environments and ecosystems.
Bike cleaning has, in the past, been done with petrol or white spirits: harmful chemicals that are known to put dangerous toxins into the atmosphere. While this does keep your bike clean and efficiently running, the dangers presented to the wider environment (and your own health in terms of indoor air quality) is hard to avoid. That being said, the market is changing, with multiple eco-friendly or biodegradable alternatives available.
More environmentally friendly bike cleaners are naturally the first port of call. Finding a cleaner that balances cleaning power with natural or biodegradable materials is becoming easier and easier to do. After you’ve rinsed off the excess dirt and are looking to ensure a polished and well-maintained frame, products like Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner and Proper Cleaner by Guy Martin boast biodegradable components, combined with more sustainable packaging.
Presenting the product in a concentrated form saves the transport of heavy liquids and the resulting knock-on costs to the carbon impact. Once you’ve bought the product, all you need to do is add the water to get the required cleaner concentration.
Non eco-friendly degreasers are harder to avoid. Cleaning the bike chain is part of essential maintenance, and relies on stronger chemicals in order to clear the build up of water-insoluble dirt and blockages. While there are similar solutions to the broader bike cleaning products (eco-friendly, natural materials, biodegradable), best practice often refers to the use of an additional special chain cleaning machine to help improve this process.
Filling the machine with the solution and submerging your chain through it helps to ensure a thorough clean while minimizing the amount of toxins escaping into the air. This method also has the added advantage of letting you recycle the solution more efficiently than other cleaning processes, allowing you to get more uses out of a single solution mix.
With these products and others on the market, finding the right cleaning solutions for your bike is now possible in a greener, more sustainable way. Adding these products to your bike cleaning regimen will help cement cycling as your most eco-friendly method of travel.
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