At the Bike Co-op we believe in recycling – so much so, that we currently recycle over 95% of the paper, cardboard and plastic that we generate.
However, there is one bi-product of bicycles that’s notoriously difficult to recycle, and that is inner tubes. That’s why we were pleased to hear from Bev of Velo Culture, who was looking for old inner tubes to make her brilliant purses and wash bags. Here she talks about inner tubes, her love of cycling, and the all important cake stop.
Written by Bev Blakeman of Velo Culture, all photographs by Chris Auld Photography
“Velo Culture is in it’s third year now and came about after a surprise redundancy meant I had a lot of spare time on my hands along with a passion to become self employed! As well as being a big cycling fan I’ve always been creative, so out of this as well as a desire to do something with the pile of punctured inner tubes in the garage, the seeds of Velo Culture were planted.
Although cycling is an environmentally friendly activity, the punctured tubes it produces are very hard to recycle and tend to end up in landfill. With cycling now booming in the UK, that’s a lot of landfill!
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The Cake Stop Caddy was my first inner tube product and was designed to give cyclists somewhere to store money, cards and keys when out for a ride, and to put change in after a mid-ride coffee and cake. They also take up such little space they’re great to shove in your bag or pocket when you don’t want a bulky purse. Two years down the line and they’re still a bestseller.Whilst not being the easiest material to stitch, inner tubes are actually a very versatile material to use; Hard wearing, durable and a great alternative to leather. Every tube is different and each has its own little piece of history, therefore no two items made are the same. With a little bit of creativity the range has now grown to include The Soft Cell phone case, Penny Pincher purse, Rubber Dub Dub wash bags and The Less Waist tube belt, amongst others.
I’ve added custom coloured stitching to products and made bespoke satchels, totes and laptop cases. Products have been posted from the UK to USA and France to Finland and I love that people are wearing and using something I’ve made from an upcycled part which has once been part of the sport that they love.
As popularity has grown, I’ve gained an extra pair of hands in the form of a part time seamstress and also expanded where tubes come from. Friends were no longer getting enough punctures to keep up with demands! In 2016 so far we’ve scrubbed, cut and prepped just short of 1000 tubes into products. Our sources have grown from local bike stores and bike tube drop stations to individuals posting us parcels, as well as the Bristol Bike Project and the Welsh OPA Llandegla.
I’m delighted that Edinburgh Bike Coop have now come on board too after seeing a tweet requesting punctured tubes. Parcels from their Edinburgh base are going to be a big help in allowing Velo Culture to grow whilst also decreasing landfill one punctured tube at a time :)”