Mean, Green, Carbon Footprint-Reducing Machine!


I need to confess something. I feel a deep sense of guilt. You see, I drive an SUV. A smaller, underpowered SUV but nevertheless an SUV.

I've been known to eat meat on occasion. I have, with deep shame, even bought bottled water. I know, I'm a beast.

But before the bile rises in your throat and you snap shut your solar powered, low-draw laptop in disgust and pedal away to your off- the -grid yurt to meditate the bad vibes away, hear me out for a minute.

I want to change. I'm not quite ready to forego driving my beloved Xterra to the Oregon coast each summer loaded down with hundreds of pounds of camping gear, our dog, and wind-powered surf-toys just yet, but I am looking for ways to reduce my carbon foot-print.

Quite literally.

I may have stumbled on to a product that quietly and sustainably promises to reduce some of my guilt in a manner not entirely dissimilar to "half the fat" Haagen Dazs ice cream (is it just me, or does it make sense that it's now ok to eat two pints of ice cream, 'cause the fat content is equal to just one?). Maybe a different blog for a later date. Anyway, back to the issue at hand:


For the last couple of years I've been weaning my self off of shoes with thick, wedge shaped soles and bloated, over-cushioned designs for running and cross-training. My first experience with a "minimal shoe" was with the Nike Free line of running shoes, which tend to encourage a more "natural", mid-fore foot strike running form as opposed to the less-efficient and potentially injurious heel-strike style that is encouraged by a thicker, more cushioned shoe.

Watch any barefooted elite runner's style and you'll see a shorter, quicker stride and the first contact of the foot is biased more towards the mid-fore foot. This results in both more efficient cushioning and spring from the foot and lower leg's naturally elastic energy-return system.

Minimal shoe designs allow and encourage this style of running without forcing people to adopt a completely extreme and unprotected barefoot training style. A caveat to those considering minimal shoes: it takes at least a number of weeks before you can safely complete the transition from more traditional running shoes to the newer style of minimal shoe due to the fact that your soft tissues will not be prepared for the new stresses placed on them.

Your intrinsic foot muscles and calves will likely initially feel a little sore as they adapt to the increased work load that they've never had to do in the past. If you push the milage and/or intensity too quickly, injuries may result. It is also a reality that some people are better served by thicker, more supportive traditional designs than by the flatter minimal designs. Recently, I went to look at other minimal running shoe options at the Frontrunner's store here in Victoria.

It was here that a very interesting option was offered to me: the Brooks "Green Silence".

The sales person pulled out the distinctive black and green shoes and began to list the specs of the shoes. I was already familiar with the idea of minimal designs but what piqued my attention was how the shoes were constructed. 75% of the shoe is made up of post-consumer recycled materials.

As I laced up and performed my in-store test flight, I also learned that the shoes are constructed using 50% less materials than traditional manufacturing methods. This means less waste, labor, and energy output relative to the construction of most shoes. The laces, meshes, gillies, and tongue webbings are all derived from recycled plastic bottles. The heel counters are made from recycled CDs.

All those old Glass Tiger CDs had to end up somewhere, I suppose.

Water based adhesives are used throughout the shoes and non-toxic soybean oil - derived pigments and dyes are used as colorants. The midsoles and sock liners actually biodegrade about 50 times faster (in about 20 years) than regular EVA midsoles, leaving behind no plastic.

The shoes felt instantly comfortable, incredibly light, and struck a nice balance between suppleness and support. As I strode around the store, I was sure I heard the inviting trickle of a cool stream.

The rush of traffic outside faded to the sound of leaves rustling in a warm breeze. The smell of fresh earth filled my nostrils. Actually, none of these things happened, but my heart soared with the good I was about to bestow on the planet by buying these shoes. I paid for the runners and left the store, shoes cradled gently under my arm. I was a changed man.

As I drove the ten blocks home, alternately sipping from my BPA free, reusable water bottle and gnawing on organic carrot sticks, I eyed my new shoes perched on the passenger seat. "You and me", I said softly, eyes getting misty, "We're gonna make some big changes on this little planet together. But first I've got to get some gas. My truck's nearly empty already".

Hey, baby steps, right?

Blog Post by Christopher Curran, Registered Massage Therapist

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