Paper or plastic? That may be the question for bike helmets in the future.
Three designers from the Royal College of Art in London have created the Paper Pulp Helmet, but that’s actually not as risky as it sounds. The molded bike helmet is made from discarded newspapers that are shredded into strips, then blended with water and an “organic, food-safe additive” that helps the helmets remain water-resistant for up to six hours.
After the ingredients are mixed together, the helmet is heat-dried and molded with ridges, which create its ability to withstand impact. The chin strap to keep the helmet in place is also completely recycled and recyclable, made from woven paper and string.
The Paper Pulp Helmet has gone through safety testing at the Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, although according to Wired U.K., it has not yet been put to the test at SATRA, the leading product-testing facility in the U.K.
The helmet’s creators say the inexpensive (it will cost about $1), one-inch thick helmet is not intended as a substitute for a serious cyclist’s more durable helmet. Instead, it offers a solution for occasional riders, such as those who use London’s bike sharing program, which is notorious for having much fewer helmets available than they do bicycles.
The helmet’s inventors — Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas — say they hope to have the helmet on the shelves by the spring of 2014. And while it’s doubtful that Tour de France riders will be clamoring for the helmet anytime soon, it could provide an ecological safety solution to London’s helmet shortage.