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.
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.
Through a network of outdoor gear brands and retailers (like Patagonia, REI, Kelty), 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:
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.
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:
Attn: RECYCLING PROGRAM
2500 47th Street Unit 12
Boulder, CO 80301