rusted bicycle

Tips on How to Recycle a Bicycle

You’ve started spring cleaning and realized that you have an older bike that isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps it’s broken down or has rusted beyond repair. It’s been sitting in the basement or backyard for too long, and you’re wondering what you can do with it. You feel bad throwing it in the trash, but you’re unsure of your other options.

Can you recycle an old bicycle? Yes! You can recycle old bikes by donating them to organizations that will refurbish and repair them. Your city may also have a waste management program that will recycle the metal. Lastly, you can try to sell the old bike or give it away free online or through a thrift store.

Depending on the bicycle’s condition you have a few different options on what you can to do with a bicycle that you need to get rid of. 

Sell it Cheap or Give for Free – Unless the bicycle is truly a big mess of rust than there’s a good chance that you could sell the bicycle for cheap on Craigslist or another buy/sell website. There are cycling enthusiasts who buy cheap bikes to work on them or strip them of parts. You’ll also have people who want bikes, because they take them to the metal yard to sell them for metal. The metal on a bicycle can bring in $10-$14 sometimes depending on the going rate.

I personally took a junker of a bicycle off the hands of a friend for free, because I wanted a bike to work on. I had never much experience with the mechanics of a bicycle, and wanted something to test on. Would I have paid even $20 for the bicycle? Nope! But free? I took it, and it ended up being a fun project to work on.

Post your old bicycle online for dirt cheap or free, and I bet you’ll have someone express interest.

Ask at Your Local Bike Shop – Your local bike shop will be in the know about options to reusing and recycling bicycles. They probably have had to look into it before, and can be a wealth of information on exactly how you can recycle a bike in your community. Some local bike shops even have connections with recycling programs, because they have bike frames and parts to recycle.

Donate to an Organization – Thrift Stores will take used bikes as long as they’re still working. Even if it’s an old bike they’ll gladly take it as long as you can still get on it and pedal. They get enough customers that they will be able to sell it. There’s also organizations that will use functional bikes and get them in the hands of people in need. Check out organizations like Bikes for the World who get bikes into the hands of children around the world.

If the bicycle you have is currently inoperable then you can look at different organizations that will take in bikes to refurbish and repair. In my hometown there’s an organization that takes in older, broken bicycles to repair and salvage for parts. They fix these bikes back into working order, and give them to the homeless in our community. It’s a wonderful way to reuse a bicycle, and help people in need. Search around online, and I bet your city has something similar. You’d be surprised! Save space in the landfill, and help your community.

A website that is incredibly helpful to finding a place to recycle our old bike is Earth911.com. Just put “bicycle” into the search and put in your ZipCode. The website will bring up various organization in your local area that will accept bike donations.

There’s also plenty of organizations that use bike parts to create different designs and creations. Bike Furniture Design is a company that uses bike parts to create unique and creative furniture. Another company is Resource Revival who creates medals, bottle openers, and other fun creations all with bicycle chains. If you live west of the Mississippi in the United States you can send them your old bike chain, and they’ll put it to use.

Check your Local Waste Management Center – Contact your local waste management center and see if they recycle bicycles. Depending on the type of metal that is used on the frame of the bike they may take it in to be recycled. The easy part about recycling bikes is that they are mostly metal. Metal is one of the easiest things to melt down and reuse. A recycling center can strip off any rubber, plastic, and get it down to the metal.

Ask your Local College – If the bike is still in working order, but only older you can check with a local college. Many college students would love to have a bicycle to get around town. Not every college student has a vehicle, and so having a bike could make a huge difference. Give your local college a call, and see if they have a way of getting your bike into the hands of a student.

What about recycling bike tires? You can totally recycle bike tires and tubes, and there’s plenty of ways to do so. Check out our article “Can your recycle bike tires?for ideas on how you can save the planet and recycle your bike tires.

How to recycle bicycle chains? Clean them up and give them to an artist to fix into a sculpture or other piece of art. Bike chains can be crafted into a variety of functional and beautiful pieces. The other option is take them to your local waste management plant. The metal can be melted down and reused.

Get Creative! – You could also get creative on your own, and utilize the different parts of a bike for various things. I’ve heard of people recycling and reusing bike saddles by making stools out of them. People have used bike tubes as tie-downs. Is there a way that you can re-purpose your bike into another functional or creative use?

The good news is that you don’t need to toss your bike into the garbage, but it can actually be reused. There’s no need for your bike to waste away in a landfill if you’re willing to take the time to one of these options. Research some of these options in your community, and find one that suits your fancy.

Thanks for helping the environment by taking the initiative to recycle your old bicycle. If you’re thinking of purchasing a bicycle maybe consider buying a used bike. Another way to help our planet is by refusing to buy “new” all the time. Check out your local ads. If you’re thinking of getting into bike commuting – you can definitely find a used bike to fit your needs.

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