See China's infamous bicycle graveyards and learn 7 excellent ways bikes can be recycled.

Good news: Bicycles are catching on in China!

What was once viewed as a symbol of poverty is now cooler than Copenhagen. And the two-wheeled trend couldn't have caught on sooner. Because in case you haven't heard, China has, erm, a bit of a smog problem — particularly in Beijing and other urban environments.

Among their many wonderful benefits, bicycles are efficient, affordable, and help cut down on smog and traffic congestion ... at least, until people start abandoning their bikes en masse, creating massive bicycle graveyards across college campuses.


Oh yeah. That's the bad news. While the highways have opened up a bit, some college campuses look like this:

Photo by VCG/Getty Images.

That's the scene at Jinan University at the end of the semester. To be fair, a lot of these bikes are corroded, bent, or otherwise junked. But they kind of lose their environmentally-friendly appeal when all that steel and rubber gets left in large piles of scrap on the side of the road.

Some parts of the country have found ways to turn these bicycle cemeteries into refurbished bike share programs; other places have robust communities of scrappers, who rely on salvaged parts to earn their livings. But there are plenty of other uses for simple machines like wheels and pulleys too.

Here are a few cool ways that people around the world have found to repurpose pedal-powered parts, turning steel-and-rubber graveyards into hubs of innovation:

Photo by VCG/Getty Images.

1. Gears and pedals can be used to create corn de-grainers, water pumps, and other agricultural machines.

A bicimáquina from Bici-Tec in Guatemala. GIF from Bikes Not Bombs/YouTube.

2. Even damaged wheels or frames could make life easier for people with physical disabilities.

Wheelchairs made from repurposed bicycles by Ability Bikes in Ghana. GIF from Bikes Not Bombs/YouTube.

3. Scrap parts in general can be used to empower communities by giving them free access to learn mechanical engineering skills.

DIY bicycle maintenance is a lot easier and a lot cheaper than owning a car!

A youth mechanic apprentice at CESTA in El Salvador. GIF from Bikes Not Bombs/YouTube.

4. The rubber from used tires can be used to re-sole shoes.

GIF from Tyrone Corbett/YouTube.

5. Or to build rugged furniture for your home.

Recycled rubber tire furniture factory in Indonesia. GIF from Bali & Beyond/YouTube.

6. There are plenty of other crafty ways to repurpose metal bike parts too (though perhaps they're more Pinterest-y than practical).

If you don't need a spinning pot rack, there are plenty of other ideas on the Internet. GIF from Laurent Saidah/YouTube.

7. Or you could just ... ride it.

GIF from Queen/YouTube.

Bicycles are the perfect people-powered transportation machines. They're just as good in cities as they are in rural environments, and they're even better for people on a budget — because if you do your own upkeep, the only thing it costs you is a workout for your calves (which is always, always cheaper than the price of gasoline).

Bikes are good for humans, and they're good for the Earth. It only takes a little bit of work to go from this:

Photo by Whoisgalt/Wikimedia Commons.

To this:

Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images.

Most of us don't think of a bird as a cuddly pet, but Swoop the snuggly magpie didn't care what humans think. After he was rescued by New Zealander Matt Owens, the baby bird became a beloved part of the family—the family being Owens and his cat, Mowgli.

"It was just sitting there bleeding, sort of unable to walk properly and it looked like it had been abandoned by its mum so I just picked it up and decided to take it home," Owens told Newshub. The timing of finding Swoop couldn't have been better. Owens' dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the bond he formed taking care of Swoop gave Owens an extra dose of love and comfort.

Mowgli wasn't sure about the new family member at first, but soon took to Swoop and the two became fur-feather friends. The Dodo recently shared a video on Facebook highlighting Owens, Swoop, and Mowgli's story, and it's unbelievably adorable.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

Bill Gates has always been passionate about providing vaccines to the parts of the world that lack resources. On Friday he came through again by announcing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committing $150 million toward efforts to develop and distribute a low cost COVID-19 vaccine to some of the poorer countries of the world.

According to Vox, this latest financial commitment brings the total Gates has dedicated to the pandemic to around $500 million. He is hoping the funds will keep vaccine costs down to increase accessibility beyond just the wealthier populations. As Gates told Bloomberg, "We're trying to make sure we can end it not just in the rich countries." Gates is working with the Serum Institute, which is the most prolific vaccine producer in the world, to make $100 million doses that would not exceed $3. In general, companies producing the vaccine have agreed to keep the profit margin low."


Keep Reading Show less