If you cycle, you may want to consider donating your old inner tubes to Cycle of Good – a company in Chilomoni, Malawi where people are combining battered old bicycle inner tubes from England with locally printed cloth to create wallets, pocket wallets, purses, glasses cases, pencil cases, phone cases and panniers. The company also create other recycled and eco-friendly items, such as bags made from local cloth, baskets made from palm leaves and even refurbished bicycles. Since I’ve just brought a Cycle of Good wallet for Husband (and kinda have my eye on a phone case for myself), I thought it would be a good time to write about them.
Cycle of Good is a small company – right now they only employ 10 Malawian tailors to craft their products, though their plan is to eventually employ 100. These craftspeople earn a good wage – above the national living wage – enabling them to support themselves and their families without having to rely on charity to get by. They also get paid holidays and pensions.
To learn to make the products, all the tailors have passed a 2-year diploma in Tailoring and Design, then completed further training in accessory production. The 2-year diploma teaches people how to make clothes, and is completed using old sewing machines donated from the UK (to donate a sewing machine – or a book or a bicycle – please visit https://www.krizevac.org/act-now/donate-items/). Volunteers from around the world then teach interested graduates how to make accessories.
Cycle of Good is a part of the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise, a support hub to help people begin and maintain new businesses. These non-profit businesses together fund local community projects such as The John Paul II Leadership and IT Training Academy and the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre, which is based on the UK’s SureStart model and provides three meals a day, professional day care, healthcare, education and family support to up to 175 children, including orphans and other vulnerable children. The Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise is, in turn, supported by the Krizevac Project, a Christian charity founded by Tony Smith. See more at https://www.krizevac.org/
The wallet I got for Husband looks good, and most importantly it seems pretty robust – Husband wears his things out really quickly! However, he has a lot of cards and he can’t fit them all in the wallet, so we’re going to need to get him a card wallet too. This wasn’t a problem with the larger Mayan cotton wallet he had before (http://www.fromthemayan.com/product/recycled-mayan-embroidered-textile-wallet/), but but after only 2 years that one’s falling apart, so hopefully one made with inner tubes will last for longer! (My Mayan wallet is even older and still going strong, by the way.) The Cycle of Good wallet also has no popper or velcro to fasten it shut. At first Husband found that it was difficult to get cards in and out of the card holders because the plastic stuck to the rubber, but as it’s breaking in it’s getting better (this isn’t a problem in the main part of the wallet, as it’s lined with brightly colored Malawian cloth).
If you have inner tubes you’d like to donate, you can send them to Krizevac Project, Atlas Works, Paragon Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 1NR – or, if you’re in Leicester, Just Fairtrade in St Martin’s Square has become a collection point (http://justfairtrade.com/). For more about Cycle of Good, please visit https://www.cycleofgood.com/