Fueling the Ride Sustainably
We ride bikes for numerous reasons; to develop fierce quads, a healthy heart, a social network, an adrenaline rush, an adventure, and for many of us, to be a positive influence on the environment around us; riding a bike is less damaging to the environment than driving a car! Of course, there’s more to being a sustainably conscious person than just pedaling over driving.
By: Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD @CadenceKitchen
If you’re looking to play a larger role in the cause, it’s okay to start small. A simple change to implement is to use a more eco-friendly packaging for your ride food. Always try to choose recyclable disposable products. That means not just buying products made of sustainable materials but actually continuing the process by recycling it post use.Think about it, you ride daily, bringing plastic bags of or foil wrapped treats to fuel your efforts. If you commute, you’re carrying along packed lunches as well. Of course, it’s healthy to pack your daily meals and ride fuel, but think of all that plastic! Plastic bag waste is a huge problem. According to TarraCycle Inc, the average individual uses 540 plastic food baggies annually. That plastic takes over 200 years to degrade; Eek! Not only is it bad for the environment, but plastic is potentially dangerous for your health as well. It has been shown to leach into food, water and be ingested where it becomes a foreign toxic particle in the body. Using glass is a great way to replace plastic containers for day to day food storage, but riding with glass is heavy, bulky, and a safety hazard. Paper sandwich bags are a good option, but can’t always withstand the conditions one rides their bike in. There are many re-usable sandwich and snack packs available for day to day use, but putting them in your pocket can be very bulky to stuff into a jersey. There is the practice of putting your chews or dried fruit straight onto your bike by licking and sticking it. While this uses no extra material, dirt can get on the food, they can fall off and you'll have a sticky bike. As you can see, worrying about reducing waste on the bike isn't so simple. Many sustainable products that work great day to day miss the mark for cycling's unique needs. There are a few stand out products that will have you contributing to the cause while cycling.
The sustainable, reusable food storage product I've found to be the most effective, durable, and easy to use is hands down BeesWrap. I picked up this item while racing in Vermont because, well, it's made locally in Vermont and when in 'Rome'... The wrap is made from just three ingredients, bees wax (from sustainably managed hives in the US), cloth, and organic jojoba oil.
I was a little sceptic. Wrap my food in bees wax? Will it stick/stay closed? Will it melt to my food? Will my food taste like wax?
...Yes, yes, no no.
I was pleasantly pleased.
The wrap tightly held my sandwich, it held together just from the heat of my hand. I tossed my wrapped sandwich into a cooler and grabbed it out hours later. Even though there was ice water at the bottom of my cooler, the sandwich was perfectly preserved, not soggy at all. But would it hold up on a ride? I've been desperate to ditch wrapping my bars and sandwiches in foil and plastic. A 78 mile training ride through a hilly section of Ohio was a great time to put it to the test. Again, a great experience. My food was well preserved, even after 40 miles in my sweaty pocket.
The different size wraps allow you to use just the right amount. The sandwich size perfect wrapped my bread + fillings while the snack size was just right for my homemade bar.
When you're done, just fold it up and return to your pocket. To re-use it, wash it off and let it dry. It works great for off the bike food (like wrapping that avocado half or covering a salad bowl) as well!