Text by Kaitlyn Kochany and photos by Sarah Greene
There are a couple different ways to think about “living green." The first is to buy high-end organics, locally sourced food, and products that are designed to minimize their impact on the world. This is often expensive; after all, those hybrid cars and bamboo yoga pants don’t come cheap.
The other is to practice living simply: going to swap meets instead of buying a new wardrobe, for example, or bike to work instead of driving. Often driven by economics as much as the desire to be “green,” this approach creates a more conservative spender. Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing wrong with splurging on some organic juices or buying ethically raised meat - but it’s tough to shop our way to big-picture change.
Nowhere is this more evident than Toronto’s annual Green Living Show (now in its seventh year). Three days and hundreds of green vendors, ranging from holistic body treatments, to alternative education paths for children, to the shiniest new zero-emission cars. Consumers throng to the Direct Energy Centre for a chance to grab great deals, and admission is free with an e-waste donation (regularly $16 for adults). However, folks who were looking to beef up their cycling gear were sorely underserved.
Cycle Toronto volunteers with petitions for BIXI expansion
While Cycle Toronto and Momentum magazine both had booths, no bicycle or cycling gear vendors were present. The only traditional bikes we saw were being offered as raffle prizes.
Genuine Health bike giveaway
There were small nods to cycling lifestyle here and there - a T-shirt screen printed with a bike that read “Burn Fat, Not Oil,” and a couple messenger bags from local designers totem - but at a show that had a half-dozen cars on the floor, not to mention presence from both Metrolinx and the TTC, the only two-wheeled rides we saw were e-bikes.
You can step on the new Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT (scheduled for 2020-1) but not sure yet whether there will be room on them for bikes
These included Zümaround, a company selling battery-powered two-wheeled scooters that are a total blast to test ride. The Zümarounds are billed as “electric kick scooters,” and they resemble bikes (albeit without pedals, a chain, or a seat). They come with a variety of frames, ranging from curvy city rides to mini-scooters that can fold for easier storage. Unlike e-bikes with non-functional pedals, these scooters will actually make their riders sweat (when they don’t use the motor).
Emmo also had a booth, which was offering discounts on their ubiquitous electronic bikes (e-bikes). They ranged from fairly standard-looking bikes with a discreet yet powerful-looking assistive battery, to a heavy-duty bike that would pass for a scooter on first glance. They’re bright, attractive, shiny machines ... but are they bikes? One thought: if you’re going to call it a bicycle, it’s always helpful to have pedals that actually do something.
The guys at the Emmo booth assured us that e-bikes are for roads - not bike lanes
The Green Living Show comes just over a month after the Toronto International Bicycle Show, so maybe bike companies have decided to focus their energy (not to mention their money) on a more two-wheel-oriented event. Still, it was disheartening to see how few companies offered bikes or cycling products (fun fact: did you know your CAA membership will tow your bike to the closest repair shop?), and it would have been great - not to mention green - to see more cycling-oriented products.
CAA advertises its Bike Assist program at the Green Living Show
Hopefully next year will have a bigger and better range of products appealing to cyclists.
The Green Living show continues today (Sunday, April 14) 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Direct Energy Centre (Exhibition Place).
Admission to the Green Living show is $16 for adults and $12 for students and seniors; admission is free if you bring in electronic waste for recycling or if you show your April TTC pass, GO Presto Card, day pass or tickets (more info here).
For more information on the Green Living show, visit the website here.
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