In York, where I live, the Tour de France excited enormous attention, with bicycles spray-painted in yellow appearing in shop windows, attached to restaurants, even hung up on walls. Personally, although I ride a bike myself, I found it hard to get excited about waiting in a crowd for a mass of cyclists to whizz past in a flash – especially as they didn’t start racing until well after they left the city centre.
But as an environmentalist I’m keen on bikes, and I was delighted to discover a supplier in India which makes gifts such as picture frames, clocks and jewellery from recycled bike chains and cogs – even a sturdy bottle-opener, the perfect gift for men. There are thousands of bike repair shops in India, and they discard quantities of chains because they’re broken or have incorrect sized links. To ‘upcycle’ them into gifts provides jobs for unemployed artisans, prevents more waste being sent to landfill sites, and gives us here some wonderfully creative products.
The organisation responsible is called Noah’s Ark, in Moradabad, which supports over 500 artisans on fair wages. Kamroor Hasam runs the bike chain workshop, welding chains into the shape of a picture frame, which also removes any oil and dust. After this it will be put into a hot cleaning solution, polished and finished off. Kamroor’s products are even appearing in UK bike shops, keen to diversify and have a few small gifts to add to their sales.
A similar product is the bicycles, cars, camper vans, planes etc which are made from tin cans in Madagascar. They’re made by a co-operative which was formed in 1994 to promote Malagasy handicrafts (great to be able to tell your customers they’re from Madagascar – much better than from a factory in China!).
Jeremy Piercy (MD)