Bicycles beat gas-guzzling autos hand’s down when it comes to respecting the environment. But the cost of supplies to make your bike utilitarian for every day travel can let the air out of your tires pretty fast. Racks run around $35; bags somewhere near $50. Lights, fenders, the list goes on.
But there’s a way to cut costs and even green-up your riding experience by using recycled materials, at least for some of your accessories. Or to put it another way – don’t get rid of those kitty litter containers, cloth bags and political yard signs, just yet.
Make your own Bicycle racks from leftover political yard signs (yes, these annoying things can be used for something after all):
Cut larger signs into fours, length-wise; smaller signs into two or three long strips. (A whole family can benefit from one sign!) Fold each strip carefully in the middle along a table edge. Attach to bike frame under the seat using zip ties to secure them in place. These sturdy do-it-yourselfers, which stick out over the back tire, are like a regular rack. Though, I wouldn’t recommend giving your significant other a ride, they can support smaller loads, such as panniers…
Cloth bag panniers (like bike saddle bags) re-enforced inside with left-over political signs or real estate rent/sold ones (another use for signs that have long since served their purpose)
Choose one of the oodles of freebie cloth bags you’ve collected over the years (but hate to part with). Gather some nuts, bolts and washers to secure this baby in place. Measure and cut your political sign to fit inside one side of the bag. Viola! Great for those rain-free days: pack a lunch, throw in some gym clothes, toss in a couple of library books, you’re good to go.
Kitty litter Panniers (not as bad as they sound)
Take Fluffy’s clean, empty kitty litter container (or any four-gallon size, hard plastic square container), grab 2 metal hooks, a bungie cord, some bolts, washers and nuts. Hold bucket up to your bike rack to determine the appropriate width in which to place hooks. Mark, drill and presto! You’ve got a sturdy, eco-friendly carrier for all your important stuff. These are great for the cyclist on the go since they’re waterproof and can hold anything from groceries to work projects. For full instructions, click here.
Want a more personal touch, a bit more waterproofing and a sleeker design? Try dolling-up your bucket with this duct-tape pannier by avid cyclist Kent Peterson:
With so many rad duct tape colors to choose from nowadays – your bike can sport anything from passionate pink to manly camouflage, and be the talk of every town you ride through.
Keep your back clean on puddle-days with home-made fenders, using cardboard, plastic bottles or aluminum.
And finally, for the master do-it-yourselfer, (you know who you are) here’s a pretty intense bike helmet light.
Simpler modes of transportation should go hand-in-hand with less expensive operations, but of course this isn’t always the case. So, before you slap down money on a counter, check out more eco-friendly ways to accessorize your two-wheeler. By using recycled goods for your bike accessories, the money you save could be impressive. The landfills you reduce, even more so.