Green Guru Gear: An Upcycling Outdoor Industry Leader

An obvious assumption for our future is that our manufactured products will need to contain more upcycled and recycled material content due to the rate of consumer demand and the finite nature of natural resources, right?

Davidson Lewis of Boulder, CO, thinks so.

In fact, his company, Green Guru Gear, is doing their part to lead the way in making upcycled, adventure gear within the Outdoor industry.

“For an [outdoor] industry that promotes environmental efforts, it is a sham that the products produced to enjoy it are actually helping destroy it,” exclaims Lewis.

Bike Tubes to Adventure Gear

Starting out as a bicycle mechanic’s assistant, fixing bicycle tire flats, Lewis saw a glimpse of the waste produced by outdoor manufacturers.

“At the end of a work day,” explains Lewis, “I had to take out the trash and couldn’t believe how many [bike] tubes we were throwing away.”

A couple years later, as a product design major in college, Lewis was given an assignment to create a environmentally, friendly product. While thinking about what materials to use to construct the product, he remembered his time as a bike mechanic’s assistant,and how the trash was always full of bike tubes.

Lewis knew that the only thing wrong with most bike tubes was nothing more than a small air hole or sometimes a tear, but that the structure of the tube itself could still be used as material to make gear.

Going off what he knew, it only made sense to him to use the tubes to create adventure bags for cyclists.

Not long after Lewis started dabbling with turning bike tubes into adventure gear prototypes, it dawned on him that other types of used adventure gear were thrown out like climbing ropes, wetsuits, and tents.

That’s when Lewis came up with the idea for Green Guru Gear.

“Mixed with some new materials,” these old products that were destined for the landfill could be upcycled “into new gear,” he emphasized.

Green Guru Gear Has Upcycled 500,000 Pounds of Material

Through a network of outdoor gear brands and retailers (like PatagoniaREIKelty), bike shops, and individuals, Green Guru receives close to 10,000 pounds per year of donated materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

The company doesn’t shy away from its role as an outdoor industry leader for upcycled gear. The first thing you notice when you ride up to Green Guru Gear’s warehouse space, tucked in-between auto shops and artist studios in east Boulder, is the overflow of bike tubes and other discarded adventure gear protruding from a shed.

Since forming as a company in 2005, Green Guru has upcycled:

  • 315,420 pounds of Bike Tubes
  • 81,713 pounds of Wetsuits
  • 4,717 pounds of Climbing Rope
  • 11,500 pounds of Tents

That’s a little over 500,000 pounds of recycled materials.

The company currently makes over 75 products.

Not bad for a team of a 10-employees, working day-in and day-out to make the world just a little bit more eco-friendly and provide outdoor folks with quality gear that’ll last a lifetime.

Used Material Gets Second Life at Green Guru

All of the products that Green Guru creates are still based on the original idea that Lewis had while working on his product design assignment in college: old materials may have been finished in their first life, but they are still durable and functional, so they should be given a second life, explains Lewis.

But Green Guru’s founder isn’t working to monopolize the upcycle gear industry.

“Green Guru is a leader… and we hope that others will follow to collectively help be part of the solution so we have an outdoors to enjoy in the future,” says Lewis.

He also hopes that people will use Green Guru Gear as a model in their own life.

“The more that there is consciousness about waste and purchasing decisions that help reduce waste, the better off we are as a community,” he says. “This reduces the need for virgin materials and production outputs, helping reduce climate change as well as promoting an overall enhanced understanding of stewardship and resource conservation.”

Do you have a bin full of old bike tubes, used climbing rope, or tents that you’ve been looking to recycle? You can either find a certified Green Guru Recycling partner, here or directly send the materials to:

 

GREEN GURU

Attn: RECYCLING PROGRAM

2500 47th Street Unit 12

Boulder, CO 80301

Andres Segarra
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TOP 9 BIKE CITIES IN THE AMERICAN WEST

Bike commuting is a great way to save some money, get and stay in shape, and help keep the planet going strong, but not all cities are created equal when it comes to their level of bike commuting friendliness.

A city’s bike commuting friendliness is based on a couple of different things:

  1. The amount of bike lanes, paths, and trails that are easy to navigate and take bike commuters through a city’s popular areas.
  2. The mutual respect that drivers and bike commuters have for each other.

City’s that have a large amount of lanes and path designated for cyclists, as well as a population that mutually respects each other on the road, are the ones that will be the best for bike commuting.

Here are the top 9 bicycle cities in the American West that take bicycle commuting to the next level.

#1: Boulder, CO

#2: Denver, CO

#3: Ft. Collins, CO

#4: Portland, OR

#5: Seattle, WA

#6: Salt Lake City, UT

#7: Eugene, OR

#8: Oakland, CA

#9: San Francisco, CA

 

Andres Segarra
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Adventure Gear Brands That Call Boulder Home

If you travel up and down Colorado’s Front Range, there’s one place that is unlike any other in this state's region— Boulder. For many years, Boulder was a little, dirtbagging, hippie college town that outdoor enthusiasts loved for it’s close proximity to world class climbing, mountain biking, skiing, road cycling, and other outdoor sports as well as its cheap rent and like-minded community.

Green Guru Gear was first established in Boulder during 2005 with a mission to create high quality, sustainable, adventure gear built out of upcycled materials like old bike tubes, neoprene from used wetsuits, and climbing rope.

Davidson Lewis, CEO of Green Guru, says that he got the idea for Green Guru by working his first job at a bicycle shop.

“I was tasked with fixing flat tires pretty much all the time,” remembers Lewis. “At the end of the day, I also had to take out the trash and couldn’t believe how many tubes we were throwing away daily. I then thought, 'Hey! This material is still good, so why is it being thrown away?' Mixed with some new materials they were perfect to be made into new gear keeping them out of the landfill and telling a story of their previous adventures.”

Lewis moved to Boulder in 2001, he believes that the success of Green Guru Gear is owed in large part to the adventure brand community in this small city. 

“Boulder is a great environment with outdoor brands,” says Lewis, adding that “the startup community has been great for networking and we have been able to land some great mentors.”

Here are 3 other adventure brands that call Boulder home.

Polar Bottle

Polar bottle has been keeping drinks cold for cyclists for over 20-years. Their founders— Robert Heiberger and Judy Amadible — first started out in a garage in Boulder crafting their iconic bottle that is engineered to keep liquids cold for long cycling trips.


That was in 1994.


Since then Polar Bottles has become a leading company in the sport hydration industry that is still focused on the philanthropy and advocacy within the cycling community, worldwide.

Exxel Outdoors

You may have not heard of Exxel Outdoors, but there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of one of their companies, like:

Kelty, Sierra Designs, Slumberjack, Wenzel, Ultimate Direction, or Mountain Trails.

All of these companies make high quality outdoor, adventure gear for every type of explorer. From high alpine mountaineering to car camping and everything in-between, you are sure to find something for your outdoor needs from one of Exxel Outdoors’ companies.

American Recreation Products was the original parent company of the above companies, but they were acquired by Exxel Outdoors in 2015. Instead of moving the new parent company out of Boulder, Harry Kazazian and Armen Kouleyan — founders of Exxel Outdoors — realized the company culture and growth potential they would have merging their brands in Boulder, Colorado.

Brett Jordan, President of Exxel Outdoors (former owner of American Rec) said in an interview, “the founders recognized that what runs any business is great people, and there are great people here. Even though they were buying American Rec., they chose to reverse integrate into American Rec. and move to Boulder.”

Sea to Summit


Sea to Summit got it’s name from the company’s founders being the first Australians to summit Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen via a new route in 1956, making them the first people to climb from sea level to the tallest summit in the world.

Fast-forward 61 years and Sea to Summit is one of the top companies in the outdoor adventure space that has its North American operations headquartered in Boulder, CO.

Tenkara USA

The name Tenkara comes from Japanese and is a method of fly fishing that only uses a rod, line, and fly.

Founder of Tenkara USA, Daniel W. Galhard, brought this method of fly fishing to the USA to give people another option for fly fishing who were interested in the sport, but thought that getting into it was too complex.

While still based in San Francisco, Galhard made a trip to Boulder in 2010. Like most people who visit Boulder, Galhard was immediately enthralled by the easy access to the mountains and social community.

“He liked that Boulder attracts people who are open-minded and interested in exploring different alternatives. Moreover, Boulder was home to a growing number of outdoor companies and had a thriving start-up scene,” says Randy Schofield in an article on Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Andres Segarra
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How To Become a Bike Commuter & Start Saving $$$

Sitting in traffic is a drag. It’s literally the worst, and anyone who tells you different is a liar.

Not only does it suck to be stuck in traffic, but it’s terrible for the planet and your wallet.

What if you could be flying through traffic, passing cars, and getting to your destination much faster than you would be sitting in a car during rush hour, all the while saving money?

Unfortunately, we’re not talking about some futuristic mode of transportation like the hyperloop or a magic carpet.

What we’re talking about is the two wheel, pedal powered bicycle. But the same old two wheeled bicycle that you rode as a kid has received some major updates in the last decade.

For the most part, they’re much lighter, quicker, and depending on the type you want, some even have a handlebar throttle that works with an electric battery to get you up those steep hills faster and with less energy.

The following shows you how to become a bike commuter — the gear you’ll need and how much money you can save in the process.

Where will your commute take you?

The first thing you’ll need to determine before we get into gear is where you’ll be going. Bicycle commuting doesn’t solely mean commuting to work. For some people that’s a feasible idea, their work place is under 20 miles from their house and there is a major route they can use to get there that will be safe.

For other people, bike commuting to work is out of the question, so they’ll be bike commuting to the grocery story or to run major errands during the week.

If you’re not sure whether or not bike commuting to a specific destination will be possible for you, try looking on google maps.

You can put in your destination just like you do when you drive in a car, but instead of selecting a road map, you can select a bike map by clicking the bicycle icon above your starting point.

For example, here at Green Guru Gear we’re based in Boulder, Colorado. If we wanted to ride our bike from our offices in east Boulder to a grocery store in central Boulder, then we would put in our starting and ending points, click the bicycle icon and Google would show us all the major biking routes to our destination.


Other things to consider:

  • Length of Route
  • Elevation Gain (Moderate / Flat Riding or Strenuous / Hill / Mountain Climbing )
  • Climate

Choosing the Right Bike for your Commute

Any bike will work for bike commuting. What’s most important is that you’re comfortable on your bicycle. You don’t even need to go out and buy a brand new bicycle. For the frugal buyer, your best bet for finding a used bicycle is to look on your local area’s Craig’s List.


You can also check out this great list compiled by Gear Patrol called The 9 Best Commuter Bikes For Any Budget.


Electric Bikes

For those of you who have longer commutes than other people, but would really like to get into bicycle commuting to cut down on expenses then we suggest checking out an electric bike.

Electric bike’s have come along way in the last decade or so. They’re cheaper to buy, and are more technologically advanced.

These bikes work the same way as non-motorized bikes except for the fact that they have an electric motor built into the hub of the bicycle along with a handlebar throttle like on a motorcycle. As you pedal the electric bike, you charge the battery that is connected to the motor. When the battery is fully charged, then you can stop pedaling and use the handlebar throttle to control the bike’s acceleration.


Cargo Bikes

Cars don’t only function as just modes of transportation, they also double as cargo haulers.

Lucky for you cargo bikes are one of the biggest trends. You can literally haul anything with them from kids to groceries and everything in-between. Check out these Cargo Bikes from our friends at Cruiser Boutique.


Cargo + Electric Bikes

Don’t want to pedal all your cargo around? Then check out these electric bikes that double as cargo bikes.


Bike Sharing Programs

Maybe a bike isn’t in your budget this month, but you do want to get into the habit of biking. Many cities in America have a bicycle sharing program within their commuter centric areas.

For a full list of bicycle sharing programs in the United States, click here.

Commuting Gear

Once you’ve selected what type of bike you want to buy, then it’s time to get a bag that can stand up to the test of time, while looking good at work or wherever you’re using it.

At Green Guru Gear we make outdoor and urban commuting backpacks, messengers bags, and accessories from upcycled and vegan materials.

Our top recommendations for the first-time commuter are:

Double Dutch Dual 40L Pannier


Freerider 31L Pannier 

How much $$$ can you save?

The savings are based on how much you stop using your car and start using your bicycle.


Let’s say you decide to go all-in. Your place of work is close enough that you can bicycle commute, you feel comfortable selling your car, and you plan to only rely on ride-sharing and bike commuting to get you to your destinations.

Use Kiplinger's Calculator to determine how much you'll be saving each month. 

Maybe it’s just not feasible for you to give up your car altogether, because the distance you go in your car far exceeds what you could do on your bike.

If this is you, then what you’ll be saving on is gas (and maybe insurance). Many insurance companies now have ways to track your driving habits. Some companies put a tracking beacon in your car to measure how much you drive. The less you drive, the less you have to pay.

Besides Monetary Savings

You can save on much more than just costs. The most apparent one is the planet. Reducing your carbon footprint will go along ways to keeping our planet healthier.


In addition to making the planet a healthier place, you’ll also be improving your health by bike commuting.


Research shows that bike commuting is one of the best ways to stay healthy.

It can be difficult to fit a gym workout into your busy work / life schedule, which is why bike commuting is such a great way to stay active. It’s literally like a gym on wheels.

Andres Segarra
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5 Bike Gifts for Your Rad Mom

 

Gift giving for your adventurous, outdoorsy mom can be difficult — the usual gifts don't cut it, but that new full suspension mountain bike or squirrel suit might have to wait until a later date.

So what’s a child or wife or husband to do?

Get her some Green Guru Gear, it’s built to last through all the adventures mom can throw at it, and it’s made out of 100% upcycled, vegan materials, so she'll be proud of your purchasing decision.

Here's 5 gifts that she'll love!


#1: Dutchy Pannier

The Dutchy is made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes and can handle any adventure your rad mom fancies taking it on. From easy jaunts around town to flying down dirt roads with kids in tow, the Double Dutch will be their go-to pannier for everything.

#2: Commuter Backpack

Does your mom need something that’ll look good on the beach, in the city, or on the commuter to work?

Our pick for those specifics is The Commuter. It’s made out of upcycled bicycle inner tubes and street sign scraps, and crafted to carry the necessities and then some. 

#3: Pedaler 17L Messenger

The Pedaler is one of our smaller messengers, but is still insanely packable and will keep your mother or wife's life organized. The Pedaler is designed with upcycled, brightly colored fabrics. It’s sure to get your mom noticed on and off the commute.

#4: Double Dutch Dual Panniers 

Most companies require you to buy two panniers at double the price. At Green Guru, we think that’s just downright silly. Get the Double Dutch Dual Panniers for those times when your awesome mom needs to haul groceries for the whole family. 

#5: Free Rider Pannier

Sometimes your rad mom just wants to drink a glass of wine and eat some dinner with her friends. She doesn't want to deal with anyone else but herself. For those moms (every mom), we present the Free Rider Pannier. It's super packable and can haul anything you can fit in it. 

 

Andres Segarra
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