Sustainable Living

How To Repurpose Bicycle Helmets

Unique And Creative Ways To Upcycle Your Outdated Bike Helmet When Recycling Isn’t An Option

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Helmets have a limited lifespan—kind of like infant car seats. After some time, the parts of a helmet—such as the foam and adhesives, begin to degrade—resulting in a subpar level of protection.

Because of this, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), recommends replacing a bicycle helmet every five to 10 years, which basically places helmets in the category of disposable products.

In that case, you absolutely must buy a new helmet, but what is the fate of the outdated one? What if you don’t want to send the old bicycle or motorcycle helmet off to the landfill? What are the alternative options?

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Option 1: Recycle


One option is to call your local recycling center and ask if they recycle the plastic portion of the helmet. If that’s the case, you can take the helmet apart and place the plastic casing into your recycling bin. I’ll be honest, they probably won’t accept them. But don’t be discouraged, because there are other pretty cool alternatives to landfill disposal.

Ten years ago in Portland, Oregon, a helmet recycling program was in the works, but unfortunately, it never went anywhere. I believe the man behind the concept didn’t have enough investors or something to help him build a facility with necessary equipment. That’s too bad.

Another option is to send your helmet into a recycling program called TerraCycle who would take it apart and repurpose the components—BUT, I believe you have to order a special shipping box and it’s very expensive. A small zero-waste shipping box costs around $137.00 and can be filled with as many sporting goods as you can fit. The question is, do you want to spend that much money?


Option 2: Donate

You can donate your old bicycle or motorcycle helmet to your local emergency response department (like the fire station) for training purposes. They will happily take your helmets and use them to teach their students how to safely remove a helmet when a motorist is injured.

Never donate an outdated helmet to an active motorist or cyclist—this is irresponsible and can cause a head injury and even death.

Option 3: Upcycle

Another great option is to upcycle your old helmet into something purposeful. Many people opt to turn their helmets into planters, which look unique and add charm and character to a backyard or garden. Simply line the bottom with some newspaper and add soil and seeds, or transplant an existing plant into it.

Many people also repurpose old bike helmets into unique lanterns and lamps that look awesome in a man cave, garage or even kids’ room.

Need a bowl? Bike helmets work amazingly well as fruit or popcorn bowls! You can paint them and use them in the home or break room at work for this exact purpose! Perhaps you have a Stars Wars fan in your life, in which case you can paint the helmet in the likeness of R2D2 or BB8 and create a Star Wars themed snack bowl!

And lastly, they can be painted and transformed into Halloween candy bowls or used for trick or treating! The strap easily works as a “bucket handle”. And they can most certainly be crafted into a costume accessory or scary yard display during the spooky season as well!

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Until bicycle helmets are manufactured to be sustainable and recyclable, these are the best options for keeping old helmets out of the landfill—and they’re not such bad options.

Below are some amazing and creative examples of repurposed bicycle and motorcycle helmets to help inspire you! I hope you enjoy these ideas and please give these talented folks below a follow!

4 replies »

  1. I love the idea of upcycling a helmet! The idea of putting lights in it is pretty fun, especially if you love cycling! I actually hadn’t thought to do anything with an old helmet before.

    Like

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