Simon Harmgardt is a second-year university student, studying Commerce at Queen’s University. His interest lies in environmental philanthropy. Six years ago he began an initiative called ‘Life Cycle’.The goal of Life Cycle is to save bikes that are destined for landfill sites, fix them up and provide them to disadvantaged people, both locally and globally.
It’s incredible the number of mechanically sound bikes (most need very minor repairs) that people are throwing away. In many parts of the world owning a bike is a privilege – not a given. Having a bike can make a tremendous difference in the lives of disadvantaged people, especially in the Third World. For most of these individuals, it is their only means of transportation to get to work, the market and school. Oftentimes entire families must share one bike – and in many cases even that is considered fortunate. Here in Halton there is substantial need as well. Although many individuals are very fortunate and do not give a second thought to owning a bike, for others buying a new bike is not financially feasible.
Teenage boys in the Dominican Republic have used Life Cycle bicycles to facilitate micro-business. Since bikes are not readily accessible, the teens operate a bike rental business, allowing them to make an honest living and consequently, contribute to their family’s well being. The teens learn to do minor repairs on the bikes, empowering the youth become self sufficient.
Each year more than five million used bikes are discarded in North America. For the past six years Simon has been working diligently to keep bikes out of landfill sites by putting them back on the road, providing environmentally friendly transportation to those in need. Life Cycle bikes have allowed more than 375 people to have an economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that they didn’t have before. Environmentally, the Life Cycle program raises awareness about waste diversion and reuse. Many of the bikes Life Cycle “rescues” are in good shape and simply in need of a “new home”. This initiative gives these bikes a second chance, encouraging members of the community to reuse items. This innovative and resourceful program allows Simon to combine his love of serving others with environmental ethics.