July 07, 2023
By North St. Bags
It’s no secret that the cycling industry, and the manufacturing of goods in general, creates a ton of waste.
Event tents and banners often get tossed once they’re out of date, despite being in perfectly usable condition. Deadstock is thrown out. And it’s true, things just aren’t made the way they used to be. With the rising costs of inflation, labor, materials, production, and transportation, many manufacturers skimp on quality to keep familiar prices, inadvertently decreasing product lifespan. All of this leads to more materials piling up in the landfill—but it doesn’t need to be this way.
These rugged outdoor materials are a great source of upcycled fabric. They're durable, often weatherproof, and come in snazzy colors and graphics. Instead of sending them to the dump, we can give them new life as durable bike bags, closing the gap of a circular economy.
With our Upcycled Collection, we take your favorite packs and build them with reclaimed materials, rescuing hundreds of pounds of waste from hitting the landfill. Here’s a closer look at how we take materials destined for the trash and give them a new life on the road.
The first step is to get ahold of the fabrics before they end up in the landfill. Our current upcycled collection is made possible with donations from Burley, SRAM, and Life Time Events. These brands had materials from deadstock, and event tents and banners that were no longer in use, and saw the value in recycling them.
As mentioned above, these gently used materials are often durable and weather resistant, and come in a variety of bright colors and graphics, making them ideal for reuse as durable bike bags. They include:
Upcycling these gently used materials not only keeps them out of the landfill, but also gives them new life and allows us to create durable bike bags using fewer new materials, closing the gap of a circular economy. Plus, by using reclaimed materials, each bag is unique so you’re guaranteed that no one will have one exactly like yours.
It’s a win-win partnership for everyone, from the end-user to the planet.
The next step is to prepare the materials for cutting, and then deconstruct them with the goal of salvaging as much as possible. Cutting the patterns sometimes requires creativity to work around the existing structures, align graphics, and make the most efficient use of the materials!
Here’s a peek at the process of deconstructing Burley trailer covers for the upcycled Burley Pioneer 9:
Finally, it’s time to put it all together! We make the same designs you know and love, just using the upcycled materials for some of our most sustainable bags yet. Some products, like the Burley Pioneer 9, use almost exclusively salvaged materials, whereas others, like the Upcycled Davis, use a mix of new and reclaimed fabrics, depending on the nature of the designs.
Here’s a highlights reel of the Burley Pioneer 9 sewing process:
North St. first started working with upcycled materials in 2020 to use the odd bits of fabric and leftovers from pattern cutting, reducing waste. We’ve been selling these one-of-a-kind weirdo bags ever since! Then in 2022, we launched a larger limited-edition upcycled collection of packs and panniers, made from the donated Life Time Events and SRAM materials. And this year we released the Burley Pioneer 9.
So far, we estimate that we’ve saved over half a ton of waste from entering the landfill, including highly durable Cordura and water-resistant vinyl, both ideal for a recycled use.
Our goal is to continue using upcycled materials wherever it makes sense—and if you work for a cycling brand, we’re open to collaborations!
North St Bags
2134 N Flint Ave Portland, OR 97227
open hours: M-F 1-5pm
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