Is it time to ditch the eco box?

Is it time to ditch the eco box?

05 August 2013 by Charlie Stockford

Well, I finally did it – after 20 years of the frustration of going everywhere sat in a small metal box I am once more officially a proper biker! I finally took the plunge last week and bought myself a new Harley Davidson Sportster Iron (matt black, obviously).

Having test ridden a few bikes over the years and not really finding something that felt right I’d almost given up on bikes. Then I came across an article about bikes ideal for women under 5’2 that talked about Harleys. It reminded me how much I always wanted a proper Harley of my own when I was younger so I popped up to Riders Bristol one lunchtime to see what they were like these days.  After sitting on a few in the showroom and chatting with the lovely Jeremy I took a Sportster Iron for a test ride -  I was completely smitten.  My little Smart car has served me well especially with the roof off during these wonderful summer days but I needed a change.  I even had legitimate justification; we’re going to see a decrease in parking spaces at work, so switching to a bike makes perfect sense! So last week I took the plunge. I picked up my brand new Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Iron one sunny day after work and promptly named her Jemima.

After riding her to the office for the first time today the question came up around Harley’s and how eco-friendly or unfriendly they are.  So, I thought I would do a little research and find out.

How sustainable or green is she?  Jemima that is; well she emits 107.0 CO2 g/km, does 50 odd to the gallon and costs  £17 tax per year.  Harleys aren’t renowned for being the most economical and quiet but if I’d wanted that I would have bought an electric scooter; and this I think is the really interesting thing – people often bemoan that making an environmentally friendly choice when picking transport means making a boring choice, but my new Harley emits less CO2 per km than my smart car (which is 115 CO2 g/km) and is most definitely not a boring choice.

Additionally, Harley are actually working towards genuine and pretty ambitious sustainability targets. According to Harley Davidson’s 2012 Sustainability Report, their manufacturing facilities aspire to reach zero landfill status. I am not sure by when, but they have established a goal of less than 10% waste to landfill for 2013 for the US manufacturing operations which is a 3% reduction on 2012 – all in the right direction.

Some of Harley’s initiatives are creative and admirable. Their project with Systech/LaFarge (a Portland cement manufacturer) is about taking Harley plant waste and using it as fuel in the kilns.  The remaining ash is then incorporated into the cement which is reducing their landfill waste from 20% to less than 6%; impressive indeed.  Their projects for other plants are making equally impressive impacts upon their waste including last year taking 4 tons of compostable material from one of their cafeterias and giving it to Growing Power an urban farm and then purchasing the cafe's locally grown produce, a really nice supply chain.

Harley Davidson is well known globally for their charity work amongst the different groups worldwide. Their 2012 corporate charitable giving topped $4.5 million in grants and merchandise. They have supported Disabled Veterans Harley’s Heros, breast cancer organisations, local community projects as well as, funding research and program services children and adults suffering from muscular dystrophy. I know that the UK Harley Davidson Owners Club for the South West are very active  so I might just have to go along and join in some of their events and fundraising.

Updates will follow of my biking adventures so watch this space…..

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