CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—Utility and sustainability intersect at Green Machine Cycles, which opened in late September in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. With a focus on cargo bikes and accessories for everyday use, owner Ezra Hozinsky also aims to reduce the shop’s environmental impact.
Although Hozinsky is a seasoned bike shop veteran, having worked for years as a mechanic and in retail, it was ultimately his training as an architect that inspired him to open a ‘green’ bike shop.
“The field of architecture introduced me to the broadest mindset when it comes to executing a design and construction project with sustainability in mind,” said Hozinsky. “There are so many things to take into consideration in the context of one project, and as I worked in different shops, I was inspired to think about bike shops in that same way.”
Hozinsky said that when it comes to sustainability, bike shops and the industry have their fair share of shortcomings.
“In a retail shop, just looking at some of the products for sale and for use in the repair shop there are areas I knew I wanted to address in my store. For example, most lubricants and cleaners are toxic,” he said. “Packaging is often excessive and wasteful. And so much of this stands in contravention to what the bike stands for—the cleanest and most energy-efficient kind of transportation there is.”
In order to create an eco-friendly shop with an attractive retail environment, Hozinsky knew he would have to open his own. In December 2012, he dusted off the business plan he written five years prior, and worked on getting Green Machine Cycles off the ground.
Hozinsky says that in building out the 1,000-square-foot store, he went to great lengths to reuse and repurpose existing materials. Energy-efficient LED lighting is used throughout, and he is working with a recycling service that guarantees that 100 percent of recyclables picked up will be properly recycled. Hozinsky has also built some of his displays from reclaimed materials and plans to put some of the mountain of cardboard a shop receives every day to good use in other projects.
In the repair shop, Hozinsky is dedicated to using only non-toxic, biodegradable and in most cases, plant-based lubricants and cleaners. Most administrative tasks are done electronically to save paper, and Hozinsky is working on filling the shop with as many plants as possible to improve air quality and add to the ambience.
“I’m chipping away at a lot of the small aspects of creating a sustainable environment to make cumulatively bigger impact,” said Hozinsky.
Green Machine Cycles features bikes from Kona, Xtracycle and Soma, and Hozinsky has plans to bring in more dedicated cargo bike brands in the future. A full array of commuter and touring accessories are available, including trailers, baskets, racks, bags, packs, locks and lights.
Hozinsky says the full-service repair shop already has more work than he can handle on his own. “People are finding us,” he said. “And it’s been really good so far. We’ve been open just over a week, so I couldn’t be happier.”