Sustainable cycling companies: Morvélo

Cycling as a whole is given a bit of an easy ride on the global sustainable stage, despite the fact that the manufacturing processes behind a lot of the stuff we all like to use in pursuit of cycling are often pretty sketchy. For an industry built on people’s desire to spend time enjoying the outdoors, there’s a lot of room for improvement regarding its impact on said outdoors, from discarded gel wrappers to carbon frame manufacture. The clothing industry meanwhile, is home to some pretty scary statistics of its own in regards to waste and emissions.

80 billion items of clothing – an uplift of 400% compared to 20 years ago – are produced every year. Those items of clothing are used 36% less, and the CO2 emissions from clothing manufacture is predicted to grow 1200% by 2050. So as a clothing company specialising in cycling, Morvélo figured it was high time that they held themselves to account. We spoke to Jack Davey from Morvélo to find out more. 

“We’re no Patagonia, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be.”

As a small independent business, they are hoping to prove to others in the industry that it is possible to be sustainable and responsible while remaining financially viable. Jack Davey said: 

“Our numbers are a little on the small side so it can feel like a drop in the ocean for sure, but without all the drops there would be no ocean to discuss. As cyclists, or simply people who like to spend time outside, the natural world is our playground so we all have plenty of incentive to make the right choices. I’m sure we won’t get everything right first time, but we’ll be documenting everything publically so other businesses can benefit from our screw-ups!”

sustainable cycle clothing

From day one of the new, eco-conscious Morvélo, simply viewed every decision made, as an opportunity to take the low impact route. “Small changes to start off were easy, since we were mostly doing it anyway. We all cycle to work, and operate a low-waste office. International travel is extremely limited for us: we run our photoshoots in UK locations (even if it means shooting short sleeves in January!) and communicate with our overseas suppliers over Skype and Whatsapp, with face-to-face meetings kept to an absolute minimum. Eco-sensibility aside, this stuff just makes good financial sense. Another quick win was to up the proportion of Bluesign-accredited fabrics we use in our products – many were anyway, so switching out one or two was no big deal. We signed up to Shift Cycling Culture to start sharing our findings with other brands via their Shift Industry Hub, and also became a member of the Sustainable Apparal Coalition.”

sustainable

“Making systemic changes further back in the pipeline has been a little bit more difficult so in the meantime we struck up a partnership with One Tree Planted, donating with every order that we receive. They are responsible for some fantastic reforestation schemes and, while donations can quite fairly be labelled as “throwing money at the problem” this partnership serves to offset the damage we do while we improve sourcing and production.” 

Back in July last year, Morvélo switched from sending out orders in traditional polybags to using D2W biodegradable plastic and paper post bags. More recently, the team have been looking into compostable packaging and chatting with Repack about their trash-free packaging. “With every decision we make, we now take a waste-free or other low impact route wherever possible.”

“We have struck up a partnership with Alpkit, who have an excellent repair service so that we can offer warranty repairs should a bit of stitching fail. It won’t always be the most cost-effective solution for us, but it will contribute to reducing production quantities and potentially saves a serviceable item of clothing from being condemned to landfill. Moving even further back up the production line, we are also conducting research into a sportswear circular economy using technologies such as soluble threads (at very high temperatures of course), recycled zips and bioplastic fabrics. We are working on a jersey design project with Sustainable Product Design students at Falmouth University, as part of the Cradle 2 Cradle initiative. Closer to home, we’re also toying with the concept of creating a jacket and/or jersey using existing fabrics, to see if it would be possible to make new garments from old kit.”

Something of a seismic shift for Morvélo has been the launch of our new brand, The Overland. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the driving force behind The Overland is enabling people to buy less clothing in the first place. The products are genuinely multi-purpose, so those of us who get into a whole range of outdoor pursuits need not have a wardrobe for every activity. As a certified lycra lout myself, I know that nothing quite beats slaying a col in a nice new pair of bibs and a well-fitted jersey – but commuting, casual rides, even a more leisurely club run are now conducted in The Overland attire that also gets a lot of wear off the bike.

sustainable cycling clothing

“Going forward, our biggest goal is to use recycled, and easily recyclable, fabrics with every product. A major trip hazard that we’ve come across is that it’s relatively easy to create a garment from entirely recycled materials, but those materials are no longer recyclable. Far from ideal. Where these future Morvélo products may not be easily recycled by a consumer, we would like to offer a returns platform so that we can handle that. In early-stage product development, we’re taking a look at whether garments could be created with easily replaceable high-wear panels. We’ve also got some pretty exciting developments on the way for t-shirts that can be recycled and born again as – you guessed it – a new t-shirt!”

In our bicycle insurance packages, we can cover your clothing if they are damaged in the event of a crash. Get your free quotation here. 

 

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Eco Conscious Cycling Brands Pt 2

While we want the best quality gear for the best prices, how often do we consider what cost these come at? From the extraction of raw materials to the factories’ pollution, labouring standard and carbon footprint of transportation, every step in the production process requires important decisions.

We had a wave of positive feedback from our first post on eco-conscious brands and happily it was just the tip of the iceberg. In the second instalment on this topic we’re looking at some more companies whose methods and ethics are proof that stylish and practical sporting gear needn’t cost the earth.

Cycling

Coffee and cycling – a longstanding match made in heaven. The team at OORR love the stuff so much they’ve even put it into their jerseys! Their fabric is made from coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles (polyester) and as coffee grounds have a reputation for absorbing and removing odours, they help keep the fabric fresh no matter how hard you sweat.

For every garment sold, OORR will also plant 5 trees, which can be a good way for our British readers to offset the carbon footprint of shipping these items over from Australia.

Eco Conscious Cycling Brands

Triple 2′s eco credentials stem in part from their multi-purpose approach, designing cycling clothes that can also be outdoor clothes or just, well, clothes.  This makes them perfect for the more casual cyclist and for encouraging people here in the UK that cycling doesn’t have to mean head-to-toe, hi-vis lyrca. Offering repairs, crash replacements and a recycling scheme, Triple 2 want you to get maximum wear out of their garments to buck the trend of wasteful fast fashion.

Try the Merino Halfzip Jersey for a smart, polo shirt style look that’ll go as well with jeans as it does with cycling shorts.

Eco Conscious Cycling Brands

TRiathlon

If you prefer to stick with a big name brand you already trust, Sundried have released a collection of active wear made from 100% recycled materials. Taking a leaf out of OORR’s book, these materials again include plastic bottles – we get through 13 billion yearly in the UK alone – and coffee beans. Sundried boast a drying time “200 times faster than cotton” for these products; perfect for this seemingly endless heatwave.

With a muted monochrome palate, the items will easily fit into your existing workout wardrobe.

Bonus points also go to Sundried for being long term supporters of Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity tackling plastic pollution.

Eco conscious cycling brands

Another company blazing a trail are Davyj, they create their swimwear from regenerated nylon yarn from fishing nets, which makes up a tenth of all marine waste.

Their aim for a 60% closed loop by 2020 means that once your swimsuit has given up the ghost, you can return it back for them to reuse the resources. But don’t worry, as the sturdy nature of the kit means it’s built to last as many lengths as you can manage. We love the Baywatch feel of the striking red pieces.

Wetsuits are typically made using foamed neoprene and whilst this to date is the best stuff for the job, it’s some of the worst for the planet. To give you an idea of how well it biodegrades, it was originally used to line the bottom of landfill sites. As a result, leading name Zone3 are working to include ‘green neoprene’ in their wetsuits. As well as this, each wetsuit has a recycled polyester lining made of 45 recycled plastic bottles.

So, what do you do with your wetsuit when it’s at the end of its life? British company Finisterre are working to develop a solution for wetsuit waste, as the nature of neoprene means old suits can’t be recycled. Their ‘Wetsuits from Wetsuits‘ project aims to do just that and develop a fully recycled, recyclable wetsuit. Once the project launches they’ll be looking for donations so keep hold of any old wetsuits you might have lying around.

And FInally…

While we’re on the topic of being green, here’s a final top tip.

Invest in a GuppyFriend. Simply stuff your dirty kit into the bag when you do your laundry and the bag will trap the tiny synthetic microfibers that break off during washing. This stops the fibres escaping into our waterways and oceans.

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