The cycling industry might have been sluggish off the start line, but it’s started to move up a green gear or two. As big brands carve out Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies, and smaller, agile brands punch above their weight with innovation, bike stores are also playing a part. Are you already one of them? 

If not, and you’re wondering what more you can do to put your best environmental pedal forward, we’ve got some great ideas to share. From brands you stock to how you package up products and even kit out—and clean—the bike shop, this list includes some easy wins you can adopt immediately and some bigger, potentially more game-changing suggestions. As always, we’re keen to hear from you about anything else we can add to the list.    

1. Develop an ESG policy for your bike retail business

OK, let’s handle the paperwork first and then get into some juicier ideas. We’re recommending this as a starting point because, well, it’s a solid starting point. Developing your business ESG policy is a chance to define what’s important for you and your customers. From this comes a framework on how you can achieve elements within the policy. 

It’s a great blueprint to keep you on the right track. It’s also an opportunity to be transparent with your customers and demonstrate your intentions. These will invariably resonate with a growing, engaged audience who will appreciate what you’re doing and no doubt reward you with their loyalty. 

2. Stock environmentally-friendly bicycle brands 

We mentioned early on that bike brands have increasingly embraced a more sustainable way forward. Whilst nobody has achieved flawless 100% carbon neutrality, their efforts are genuine. 

Big brands like Trek now power their main headquarters and all US manufacturing with renewable energy sources. They’re funding responsible trail systems for public access, reducing single-use plastics and adopting recycled plastic to produce bike accessories like bottle cages and helmets. 

In the world of cycling apparel, global names like Santini SMS are increasingly turning to recycled fabrics and yarns (their World Champion jerseys have been sustainable since 2021) and advanced technology to reduce waste. They create limited product runs from leftovers, opt for TIPA compostable packaging, and source local wherever possible.   

Then there are businesses that are not so much adopters but inventors. The chatter dialled up at last year’s Taipei Cycle Show when Taiwanese tyre producer Maxxis unveiled Seawastex, a programme focused on turning old fishing nets discarded in the sea into nylon threads to produce tyres. Let’s wait and see what that brings. 

Start-ups like antidot, a 100% biodegradable bike cleaning brand from Germany, show how cool green can be. With all their manufacturing taking place in a 150K radius and using 90% renewable raw materials and as much recycled plastic as possible, they are doing their bit to keep a low CO2 footprint.  

3. Offer refurbished bikes 

As good as new is retro-edgy. It’s been the cool thing to in other areas of life for decades (think vintage clothes shops, second-hand charity stores, and, of course, cars), but it’s now becoming big in the world of bikes. 

Provided the bikes have undergone thorough maintenance in your store, and you’ve restored them to near-new function and form, then everyone’s a winner. The customers won because they got an (almost) brand-new set of wheels for a fraction of the price. You’ve won because you’ve made a profit on a low purchase (and you’ve no doubt factored in an ongoing bike maintenance plan as part of the deal), and the environment’s won because you’re all re-using, not consuming. 

4. Champion bikes for urban mobility projects 

You have probably already been doing this for years, but we’re putting it in just to be thorough. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Utrecht… For decades, these cities have shone the light on pedal-powered urban mobility. Younger cities like Melbourne, Vancouver, and Portland, Oregan, are increasingly adopting bike-friendly planning and policies, but more can be done. 

Be the champion of this cause—lobby your local Member of Parliament, organise strategically mapped shop rides, circulate flyers, and become the community’s bastion of common sense. 

5. Run an environmental audit on your business 

Unless you’re based in a big city with the resources, it’s unlikely you’ll find a single person to come in and make a comprehensive environmental audit of your business. However, you will have access to an electrician or a plumber, for instance, and they are well-placed to determine how efficiently you use your energy, water, and wastewater. 

By introducing more energy-efficient light globes and water-efficient tapware, you will save your business money and help to save the environment. It’s important to start somewhere, so use your available resources to determine how green your business is (or isn’t) running. 

But there are plenty of other initiatives that don’t require a tradesperson to highlight. Dedicated recycling, changing window dressing to allow more natural light to move into the building, patching up heat escape holes, and stopping water leaks once and for all are easy wins. They don’t require an expert; just someone to walk around, identify them, and do something about them. 

6. Turn your bike shop bag into a moving billboard 

Where’s the novelty in store-branded shopping bags? Retailers have been doing it for years! 

True enough, but we’re not talking about plastic bags with your logo or paper bags with an ink stamp of your brand. We’re talking about relatively cost-effective canvas bags that will live a life beyond your shop. They’ll turn into sturdy, reliable library bags, grocery bags, swim training bags; who knows what else they will carry and where else they will carry it! They’ll live a long and prosperous life with your brand front and centre. 

7. Embrace biophilia in your bike store

Biophilia is the new buzzword, but it’s just a fancy name for creating closer connections with the environment. We humans like to push boundaries and redefine realities. However, we’re at our healthiest when we’re close to nature. So bring nature to you. 

Open windows and let in fresh air (rather than aircon) whenever possible. Speak to your local florist or plant nursery and get some great greenery indoors. Why not see if you can negotiate some kind of local cross-promotion? You get the plants for free if you promote where they come from. If you’re not confident in anyone’s green thumb qualifications, make sure it’s a Monstera or a Snake Plant, and you won’t go wrong. 

8. Shred your paper packaging into mulch 

Speaking of greenery has us thinking about circular economies. You probably have a steady stream of cardboard and paper coming into your store and eventually leaving via the recycling bin. You might be able to go one step better than that. 

First, invest in a good shredder that can significantly reduce the volume of disposed paper. Second, do you have a community garden organisation, a school garden or some other kind of not-for-profit green initiative? Cardboard can make great mulch, so touch base and see if you can provide a helping hand to other locals. 

9. Clean green 

We mentioned bike cleaning products earlier, but what about store cleaning products? 

From cleaning the staff toilets and kitchen area to wiping down floors, benches and windows – it’s easy (and cheap) to go green. Ditch the chemicals and replace them with something as simple as a vinegar and water solution. If the smell isn’t to your liking, just add fresh lemon juice or some essential oils. Failing that, there are more eco-friendly options on the supermarket shelves. 

10. Communicate your ESG efforts with customers 

Be loud and proud about what you’re doing to help the environment. It will resonate with customers. Also, be open to their ideas – encourage your community to make suggestions; you never know where it might take you and what doors it could open. 

The BikeExchange team is here to help. If you’d like introductions to any particular brands, more information about any of these ideas, or connections to other bike stores we know are doing fantastic work in this area, reach out to us! 

Connect your Bike Shop
Connect your Bike Shop