A bicycle that washes clothes–I’m not kidding! Snowboard sales slide, climate change is seen as one of the main causes and snowsports athletes step up. Enjoy your Here Comes The Weekend version of GSB News & Notes.
BIKE WASHING MACHINE: GET FIT, DO LAUNDRY THE CARBON-FREE WAY
If someone asked me if I could do my laundry while riding my bike, I’d probably say something like, “Sure–I’ll put my clothes in the washing machine, go for a 40 minute ride and then move the laundry over to the dryer.”
A group of students at Dalian Nationalities University in China, are working on a different, greener, and, it says here, incredibly novel answer. They invented and designed the Bike Washing Machine (or BiWa), a stationary bike that will wash clothes through pedal power. To be clear, the students are only in the design concept stage and it’s not known if/when they will go to mass production/market.
Side view of the Bike Washing Machine, or “BiWa”, a new product design from a group of students at Dalian Nationalities University in China. (Credit: The Homestead Guru)
Still, BiWa certainly seems seems eminently marketable: It is cool, provides meaningful benefits (exercise, green, cost savings), there’s nothing out there like it and, from a technological point of view, at least to a layperson like myself, it seems plausible. Perhaps the barriers to competitive entry are low but that’s a marketing, not so much a product challenge.
Here’s how BiWa works: “When you ride this bike, the pedaling motion causes the drum of the washing machine to rotate,” the students wrote on design site Tuvie. “At the same time, superfluous electricity is generated, which can be used to power the display screen or stored for future use.”
At least three key questions seem unanswered as of now:
- How long does it take to pedal through a load of laundry?
- Can the same drum be converted into a dryer?
- How much would BiWa cost?
A fourth question–could there be a BiWa-type device you could actually ride outside?–has a prospective, affirmative answer in the form of another concept featured in Tuvie (what a fantastic site!) from designer Barbara Tobolova.
Designer Barbar Tobolova’s mobile version of a Bike Washing Machine. Laundry and detergent would be placed into the rear wheel. (Photo credit: Tuvie)
I guess if the Tobolova design wins the BiWa Wars, cyclists will fill their water bottles for drinking–and for the wash cycle. Who’da thunk it?
SNOWBOARD SALES GO DOWNHILL; CLIMATE CHANGE SEEN AS ONE OF THE MAIN CAUSES
The number of Americans who snowboard dropped by about half a million over the past five years.* And purchases of snowboards, boots and other gear have steadily declined since their 2007 peak of $325 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
Source: National Sporting Goods Association
These data form the crux of a story in the February 19, 2016 issue of Quartz by Chase Purdy, who concludes that, “economic uncertainty and climate change [my italics] have contributed to declining global sales and participation over the past decade, leaving some in the industry wondering about its future.”
Kelly Davis, a lobbyist for Snowsports Industries America (SIA) quoted in Purdy’s piece, goes right to the record-setting drought and climate change when citing key reasons for the decline: “For starters, there’s less snow. One out of every five US snowboarders lives in California, which has suffered a pernicious drought for the last four seasons.”
California did get a welcome, El Niño-induced reprieve from the drought’s effects, pushing the state’s snowpack to the deepest level it’s been in five years. Nonetheless, says Purdy, “Worldwide, changing climate patterns has the entire snow sports industry feeling nervous.” Davis adds that [Snowboarding and all snow sports are] “the ‘Canary in the Coal Mine'” when it comes to climate change.”
Facing existential and financial threats to their sports, elite snowboarders and other snowsports athletes are not sitting still. Protect Our Winters (POW), a Pacific Palisades, CA-based non-profit, was formed in 2007 by cold weather athletes to push the climate change fight. POW’s roster of 70+ snowsports stars, including founder, snowboarder and climber Jeremy Jones, and X-Games boardercross star Ralph Backstrom, gives loud, passionate, and substantive voice to the fight against climate change through educational initiatives, advocacy and community-based activism. And the snowsports industry, from resorts to manufacturers to the SIA, has joined the athletes to spread the word.
Founder Jeremy Jones shares the Protect Our Winters story (2:41)
* Source: Physical Activity Council
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