Sustainable Manufacturing (SM) is the only way we will get out of the mess we’ve made of this planet. It is about learning to make the stuff we want without destroying the resources we need. So, imagine that every person in the world could own a car. Can we accept the environmental impact of manufacturing six billion automobiles? Only a half billion passenger cars were made over the last 10 years. Now, what if every one of us wanted a new car every 10 years? If the average American can own their own car, so should the Chinese and the Indians and all of the rest of us Earthlings. Low and behold, like McDonalds and KFC, the rest of the world is importing our automobile consumption habits as well: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2008705546_apaschinaautosales.html
Anyway, I’m totally stoked about rolling out our 2009 bicycles, the zapatacycles.com website, and this Zapata Bros. Blog! We’re very enthusiastic about our bikes and we appreciate the opportunity to share them with you. Here at Zapata Cycles, we’re making bicycles that are stylish, durable, and safe, and we make them in ways that minimize impact to the environment. Compare our bikes to any others on the market today and we’re sure you’ll agree, ours make green look HOT!
We keep our imprint low by building with older steel and alloy components that are both beautiful and durable. Why they don’t make ‘em like they used to has everything to do with economics and nothing to do with the environment. Let’s face it, the materials and methods needed to make high-quality bicycles have not changed much over the last 30 years:
• Steel frame material
• Double-triangle construction
• Lug-brazed frame joinery
• Hub and spoke wheels
• Cup and cone bearings
• Chain-driven transmission
• Pneumatic tires
• Cable-controlled caliper brakes
Performance improvements that have been made possible from new technologies (carbon fiber, high-tech alloys, oversized tubing and axles, etc.) are modest at best and come at a disproportionate price, both to the consumer and to the environment.
Here are some illustrations that race fans might appreciate. If every driver could afford a Formula 1 race car, should they buy one and use it as a daily commuter? If every sailor could afford an America’s Cup yacht, should they buy one so they can cruise it around the lake when the weather is right? Just because the average middle class American can afford to buy a Tour de France race bicycle, it doesn’t mean they should. So, what’s the big deal if I buy Lance Armstrong’s carbon fiber Trek bicycle? The big deal is: waste of non-renewable resources, unnecessary CO2 emissions, chemical waste, and waste of durable substitutes, so on and so forth until it eventually raises your homeowner insurance premuim. And what would Lance’s bike say about me? It would say, “Check out this guy, he doesn’t mind creating a little waste for something that he wants but doesn’t need.” Hey, don’t blame me, its not like I had many better options! Sadly, the $2000 carbon fiber bicycle is not any more wasteful to produce than the $200 bike sold at your nearest sporting goods store. While riding your bicycle is better for the environment that the alternative, I’m afraid that building one was more harmful than we would like. But don’t worry, it’s no worse than all of the other manufactured goods we own. Seriously, the manufacturing industry is one of the biggest sources of negative environmental impact in the world today.
Something has got to give, folks. Before you go and get defensive, know that I’m in no position to complain about anybody else’s consumption habits. Like most Americans, mine pretty much suck too. In repentance of mankind’s sins done to God’s great Earth, we at Zapata Cycles have committed ourselves to changing the evil ways of the world. That’s one reason we’re so excited about our beautiful bicycles and about our (more) sustainable product concept. Hey, it’s your world too! So tell us what you think about bicycles, consumption, Sustainable Manufacturing, or all of the above.