Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The life of a running shoe

As I mentioned last month, I recently became a vegetarian. This transition has not been entirely smooth, but it has ultimately been worth it. Now that I am looking back on my decisions to make this lifestyle change, I think part of the decision also came from the way that many of the new friends I have made through running are more socially and environmentally conscious. I am not going to suggest that all these people who I have met running have been "tree huggers" but when you spend a lot of time out there hitting the trails or the pavement... you seem to develop a stronger bond with the environment you are running in.

One of the common concerns that people have is the amount of trash that running seems to produce. Most of the time that concern arises for me during a race and seeing cups or packets of energy gels all over the ground... I hate the thought of litter.

But a few weeks ago, I started to think about other ways that running has impacted the environment around me, and how I can reduce my carbon footprint.... I think what actually was the catalyst for thinking about the reduction of carbon footprint was the evening I brought home pair 2 and 3 of running shoes to use for rotation while training this summer. 

I still had my old pink nikes and my blue brooks ghosts... I saved them for obstacle racing and kicking around. But although the treads are already worn through to the point of being virtually non-existant, I didn't want to throw them away because I feared that they would sit in a landfill.

According to a new online shoe store called Kindrunner, this is not an unusual fear. Most runners will retire their shoes after 300-500 miles, and they then use these running shoes around the house until the soles are stripped. Once stripped, runners will then toss them in the trash where they will be carted off to the local landill and sit, without breaking down for 50+ years.

50 years from now, I will be almost 83. And hopefully a grandmother.

If it takes 90-100 years for shoes to fully biodegrade (as Kindrunner has referenced), and if I continue to throw away shoes as I burn through the treads, how many pairs of my shoes will be sitting in a landfill when my grandchildren are 40-50 years old.

One solution is the appropriation of old recycled rubber from shoes into things like flooring, track surfaces or synthetic turf, but the potential for this is limited.

Just thinking about the damage to the environment makes my heart hurt.

But Kindrunner has developed a solution. One that not only addresses the environmental impacts, but also the social implications of poverty in developing countries. This is particularly important to me when we consider that many of the running shoes sold in this country are produced at low cost in these same poverty stricken areas, many under less-than-ethical conditions. They offer an incentive program to those who want to donate their old shoes...

What is cool about Kindrunner is that you get all of the things that you would at your local specialty running store. You get in-depth gait analysis, and you get the experience of passionate runners who have been in the running industry for a number of years.

Unlike your local stores, you get expert advice and fit... and you don't have to put on clothes and leave your house to go shopping or talk to someone. And unlike the other online stores, you get "expert product review videos" for all of their products, so you can learn about what you are buying before you actually buy it. They suggest alternatives too.

MOST IMPORTANT, they also have a purchase incentive program (called Kindness Cash Rewards). Using their FREE 3 WAY SHIPPING, you buy your shoes from them and have them shipping to you for free. Free return shipping if you want to return something for any reason. Next, you take the mailing labels that came with your purchased product and mail in your worn out running shoes (at THEIR expense). They then give you credits to use toward future purchases, and they donate the shoes to the needy via partnership with organizations like Soles for Souls.

Run. Repurpose. Repeat.

Its that easy for everyone to win here.

  • You win because you get good product at good prices.
  • Your wallet wins because it gets to keep some of your hard earned money through fair prices and incentives.
  • The environment wins because of less waste filling our landfills and lower carbon footprint.
  • Needy people win because they get shoes that they can still put to good use.

It really is a scenario full of win. And I can't wait to see where this company goes!

For more information, please visit my friends over at www.kindrunner.com and like them on facebook.

***P.S. I need to share the excitement that yours truly has been chosen to be an ambassador for Kindrunner.com. How exciting! But not quite as exciting as being socially and environmentally responsible.


  1. Sounds like a great company! I need to get some new shoes, but have no idea where to start.

  2. The manufacturing of shoes deals with molding them to various size and shapes there are many by product of the shoe industry which may take approximately 100 or more years. Some chemicals may take 1000 years to decompose.

    Barker Marine

    Men Shoes UK

    1. that's great info to know... particularly as we become so much more aware of our carbon footprint.

    2. There are methods through which we can safely dump these chemicals but they are costly that's why shoe manufacturers ignore methods and dump waste hear and there which becomes hazardous for humans and animals.

      Barker Marine

      Men Shoes UK

    3. Thanks for the info Barker Marine, this is all really good information to know about as we try to reduce our impact on the environment.