Cycling is often the perfect way to explore a new city.
During the day, you gently pedal around quiet side streets and along bike lanes lining rivers and urban woodlands. You savor the smells of passing bakeries, enjoy glances of dogs frolicking in park meadows, and greet the crisp air with wide eyes and rosy cheeks. It’s all romantic and wonderful…
That’s when a leisurely cycle turns into the bike ride through hell. Commuter vehicles carrying 9-to-5ers anxious to get home fill the roads as black consumes day. Suddenly, you’re navigating bumper-to-bumper traffic and near-misses with cars driven by drivers distracted with tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s to-do lists.
All the while, you’re just hoping to be seen.
Or, in another case, you are seen, but you wish you were invisible. You wish you could fade into the darkness because you have a blinking hard hat strapped to your skull and crispy plastic wrapped around your chest like you’re a glow-in-the-dark trash bag.
Chic and invisible to drivers or a walking construction site.
These are the choices faced by fashion conscious cyclists. Or rather, have been the choices thanks to Tacita Vero, a London-based bike mechanic with a passion for knitting and helping people.
While repairing bicycles, Vero found the current bike apparel used to keep evening cyclists safe wasn’t very popular, and then decided to do something about it.
This reflective knitwear that Vero describes has become the backbone of On The Glo, a social enterprise that sells cool knitted fashion and helps a community in the Philippines at the same time.
On The Glo is marketed to cyclists, runners, and pedestrians who are both fashionable and socially conscious. On The Glo sells the standard knitwear—ear warmers, snoods, and beanies. The big difference is that these products are knitted with thread that is retroreflective, meaning the knitwear only appears to light up when the eye is at the same angle as the light source. So the knitwear is—as On The Glo’s campaign says—“incognito in daylight” but then “glowing in headlights.” Perfect for the active traveler looking to stay warm and visible to drivers during evening exploration of new destinations.
All reflective knitwear sold by On the Glo is ethically produced by women in Ifugao. Ifugao is a community within the Cordillera mountain range of the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Ifugao is built around rice farming. The area and its rice terraces today is considered a UNESCO heritage site, in part for being “a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.”
Many travelers visit Ifuago every year to enjoy mountains lined with terraces of black and purple rice paddies, farmed with traditional methods dating back 2,000 years. What they may not realize is that this area doesn’t produce enough rice to pay for necessities like healthcare and education.
On The Glo’s knitting work has allowed the women of Ifuago to earn extra income while still continuing the millennia-old tradition of rice farming.
There are many communities around the world known for knitting. Vero points out that many brands are already working with knitters in communities from the likes of Peru and Nepal, and said that On The Glo chose to work in the Philippines because they felt they could make a real impact in Ifuago.
And the impact is real. On the Glo currently works with 10-to-15 knitters, which provides additional income for 10-to-15 families.
Whether you’re interested in getting warm fashionable accessories for your winter travels, or simply for wearing around your hometown, why not buy knitwear that helps a worthy community? Warm your body, and your heart too.
Editor’s Note: Interested in getting this reflective knitwear before Christmas? Act fast! On The Glo is taking orders for Christmas delivery through Kickstarter until 11:59 GMT on November 23rd. After that, On The Glo will still be taking orders, but for post-holiday delivery.
While traveling the world as a digital nomad, Christina found it difficult to find the fine travel experiences that satisfied her conscience. She started The Wayward Post with Ziggy to help travelers find those travel experiences that are driving positive change and to give the Wayward hat tip to travel-related brands doing the right thing. All while amplifying the work of amazing writers and photographers.
When she's not writing for The Wayward Post, you'll find her working with do-good brands run by amazing people with the marketing agency, ZATWIC. Or maybe just drinking a craft cocktail. Follow her on Twitter.