Posted on June 19, 2012
Stuff Barefoot Runners Say
That’s a video by the guys at InvisibleShoe.com, which pokes a little fun at the barefoot running trend. Considering the fact that the company’s entire business is aimed at those barefoot runners, it’s a real sign of a sense of humor. Invisible Shoe sells custom-made running sandals based on the huaraches worn by the Tarahumara of Mexico, who are known for their distance running. In the most basic sense, these are thin soles made from the hard rubber most shoes have for their outsole that are tied to your feet by shoelaces. The idea behind the running sandals is to have the least amount of material on your feet while still acknowledging the fact that flesh and sharp things on the ground don’t get along so well. I’m not going to try to explain them in more detail than that. I don’t think I have the skills. Just go to their site and look for yourself.
I was given two pair of these a while back by the company to try out. I was interested in barefoot running and thought that these may be some of the greenest shoes possible. The first set was a custom-made set of the 6mm Contact. I followed the instructions on their site to outline my foot on a piece of paper (my foot barely fit given then I’m easily a size 12) and mark where the holes for the string should go before faxing that in. The other set was a make-it-yourself kit for the 4 mm Contacts.
I’m going to be honest. I haven’t done a darn thing with that make-it-yourself kit. It’s been sitting on my dresser since the package came in the mail. It wouldn’t be fair to Invisible Shoe if I had made them and then reviewed that pair anyway. I have none of the crafting ability that earned our Homo habilis ancestors their scientific name. I have tried out the pre-made sandals however. The only difference between the two sandals is 2mm of thickness. The reason it’s taken me so long to review them is that they came in during the peak of my training for my first half marathon. I just didn’t have the time to take away from my training schedule to try these out for fear of messing with my stride or my leg health. After the half marathon I was focusing on increasing my speed in the 5k distance in order to qualify for a better starting wave in the Peachtree Road Race. Again, I stuck these to the side until I had a break in formal training to really give them a fair shake and that came only recently.
First, I’m not going to say that these are for everyone. While there seems to be a nearly infinite number of ways of tying the things on, there’s always that part of the string that goes between your toes. Some people have a thing about that, and honestly, I’ve had a little bit of problem with chafing on the side of my toe from the string on my right foot, although the fact that the left has had no problems suggests this is something a little tweaking could solve, assuming that all that’s needed isn’t just letting my foot get used to the shoe. After all, I don’t normally wear flipflops or the like. That section of skin just isn’t used to touching anything.
Another slight problem is that for the less-than-dexterous like myself, tying these things can be a little difficult. One good thing is that one of the suggested tying methods is for making these sandals slip-ons, which means you’d only have to tie them once. There are, however, some pretty impressive tying methods that turn these into works of art. Me, I’m not that gifted.
Other than that, I like these. I ran over the rough gravel in my driveway without any discomfort. I got a little sand in there running on our sandy dirt roads, but didn’t have any issues on pavement. There is no cushioning at all here, but your body will likely get used to that if you start off slowly and work your way back up to your current mileage. Also, if you read my post about what to do with your old running shoes, these sandals solve most of that problem. Because they have no cushioning, there’s no reason to dispose of these until you wear a hole in one, which is likely going to take thousands of miles instead of the recommended hundreds of miles you’re supposed to get from normal support running shoes. After that, you can pretty easily recycle these. After all, most of what they’re recycling from your running shoes are the soles. Buying less and recycling more? You can’t get much greener than that.
Posted on March 27, 2012
My wife’s family love card games. Me, not so much. I lack the attention span for most games, so much so that I never even really got too into video games because I’d get bored by the second level. When I was offered a chance to review Spot It!, a game by Blue Orange, I knew I’d be a pretty tough judge. If I approved, it was going to be a good game. Just to make sure I gave it a fair shake, I asked my card-game-loving wife and my 4-year-old son to help me test it out. Read more…
Posted on February 28, 2012
This post isn’t about tips or advice for how you can become more green yourself. This is public confession of areas where I fall short of my own ideals. Maybe by admitting my problems I can find the motivation to improve my performance.
- I use too many plastic utensils. This is one flaw that is actually more of a character flaw than a failing of my Greenist ideals. I am a forgetful person and I also find it difficult to develop and maintain habits. I take my lunch with me to work daily and I use reusable containers for this. My water bottle and travel coffee cup are also reusable. For some reason, however, I struggle to remember to throw in a fork or spoon from the kitchen drawer while packing my bag in the mornings. I started to develop the habit in December, but then the vacation days of Christmas intervened and I ended up back at square one having to use my emergency stash of, and later raiding the cafeteria for, plastic utensils. This is insanely frustrating. There’s not even a real reason to need the plastic in this case. It’s easier to remember the metal fork and take it home to wash than it is to go hunt down plastic in the 20 minutes I have for lunch each day. The real forks and spoons work better. Luckily, I have gotten back into the swing of things lately, but all it will take is the next vacation for this to become a problem again.
- I use paper towels excessively. Unlike problem #1, which was really more about my forgetfulness than it was about my status as a Greenist, I secretly prefer paper towels over dish towels. They wipe up liquids better. They don’t start stinking by the next day. I don’t have the image of rampaging microbes dancing in the back of my mind while I use paper towels. They’re already right there on the counter. That’s probably part of the problem.
- I have three refrigerators, a 3-foot-tall freezer and a 6-foot-tall freezer in my house. We don’t even use the third fridge or the small freezer. That’s a crap ton of wasted electricity, and part of it is just because I’m too lazy to get rid of the unused appliances. We do need more than just the one refrigerator, though. We get a lot of fruit and vegetables from the garden and local farms in the summer to freeze for the year and we also buy a local hog or cow on a regular basis to last us for months so we don’t buy as much industrially farmed meat. And don’t ask me to give up my beer fridge. That one is normally full.
Of course, now that I’ve admitted my flaws, I’ve done no good if I don’t make a plan to improve in those areas. The plastic utensils are a work in progress, and one that has already progressed well. As for the paper towels, I need to just suck it up and use cloth more often. I can perhaps find a spot in the kitchen for our kitchen towels instead of their spot in the bathroom closet to make them more accessible. As for the small freezer and the fridge, I really just need to donate them both to the local mission store. They both work and both could be put to good use by someone else. Now I just need to find a date on the calendar where I have enough time to actually do that.
I know I can improve in these areas, and several others, but this Greenist thing is a process. I didn’t expect to go from nothing to an elite runner when I started running two years ago. I was 60 lbs. overweight and hadn’t run more than a few yards at a time in almost 10 years at the time. I had to work to where I am today, 40 lbs. lighter and much faster, but still far from an elite distance runner. I want to keep improving. I continuously raise the bar for my running goals and look for ways to make myself faster, fitter. In my opinion, being a Greenist works the same way.
Anyone else have any faults they’d like to own up to?
Posted on February 14, 2012
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Chris Molnar.
For hundreds of years, Valentine’s Day has been a celebration of romantic love. Today it is celebrated with gifts like flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards. But once the holiday is over, what do you do with the endless packaging of all those gifts and cards?
This Valentine’s Day, let’s turn the red into green with Valentine’s projects, gifts and ideas that are all eco-friendly.
Finding ways to recycle and reuse those gifts and packages is a great way to be a friend to the environment while still enjoying the holiday. So if you are looking for greener options, check out these ideas and tips. Read more…
Posted on February 2, 2012
image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36027131@N05/3440278634/
My husband and I are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our first child. Along with being extremely excited, we are also overwhelmed, anxious, and concerned about how to raise a child in this world in a manner that aligns with our values. One of those values, of course, being as environmentally aware as possible.
Posted on January 31, 2012
Like the shoe? That’s one of my new running shoes. I’m a little torn as to whether I think they’re hideous or freaking awesome, but this post isn’t really about those shoes, at least not yet.
Last year I went through three pairs of running shoes. As the year went on, I gradually upped my mileage to the point that I ran 101 miles in October and have averaged more than 60 miles each month since, even though I’m not currently training for something specific. I fully expect to run more miles this year than last meaning I’ll probably go through at least three pairs again this year. While I may be a much thinner and fitter version of the self I was two years ago, I’m carrying a lot of dead weight in old running shoes. Read more…
Posted on January 5, 2012
In an unrelated series of events, I recently decided to purge my sock drawer of any and all socks that I just don’t wear. Either because of color, fit, or fabric, I would wager many of us have socks that just aren’t our favorites and, as a result, get worn very little.
But what do you do with used, but not used up, socks?
Although technically still wearable, I doubt there is much of a market for used socks. And if they aren’t yet worn out, I hate to see them thrown out or, at best, relegated to a textile recycling center, especially when they could still work for a reuse project.
So after some google searches, I found a recommendation to make socks into reusable swiffer pads- perfect! Although we gave up buying disposable swiffer pads years ago, we still have the sweeper around and the convenience of the thing is still very appealing. Only problem was, I could find the suggestion of making socks into a reusable swiffer pad, but I was having far less luck finding actual tutorials for such a project. The fact that etsy has these cool crocheted swiffer socks wasn’t helping my search, either.
So I came up with my own solution. Read more…
Posted on January 3, 2012
Photo: Olivier Bacquet
For years I’ve made coffee the old fashioned way with a drip coffee machine and paper filters. I did get the brown, unbleached filters. I don’t normally drink any coffee during June and July when I don’t have to work, but that’s still hundreds of filters thrown away each year. This is especially annoying as I also drink tea, but I buy it loose so I don’t have the waste of a used teabag (and also the option to buy better tea). Why should I had to add paper to the coffee equation?
Posted on January 2, 2012
I love those creamy, spicy, coconut milk-laden dishes you get in Thai restaurants and I wanted to make my own. I found this recipe on a site called Nutritioulicious, and I’ve tweaked it a little to my tastes and the contents of my kitchen. Serves four. Read more…