Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Sweat is never going to make athletic shoes.

Neither will they make underwear, which is the other thing that's difficult to get used (and impossible to get used to the idea of getting used). I wrote No Sweat and asked them to make athletic shoes and underwear and they wrote back to politely decline and to try to convince me that what I really want is yoga pants. That was two, three years ago. I still don't want yoga pants and No Sweat still doesn't make athletic shoes or underwear.

Here's why I no longer care:

Because it occurred to me that even with a conscientious manufacturer, buying a new item is usually worse for the environment than buying a recycled item. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this. Like if we're talking a 40-year-old fridge vs a new ozone-friendly fridge where just plugging the older item in is equivalent to going out and shooting pandas. But shoes? Definitely better to re-use. I started having recourse to the ninety trillion pairs sitting in Goodwills all over the nation because everybody's squeamish about used shoes. I have not bought new shoes since the one pair of No Sweats I bought a few years ago. My feet show no signs of putrefaction, and I have more shoes in more styles than Imelda. All for a tiny fraction of what new-shoe-buyers spend, plus I'm not encouraging manufacturers to add to the apparel glut and I'm keeping my truckloads of reclaimed shoes out of the landfill and the garbage gyres for, well, given my attitude to shoes, probably the rest of my life. Win, win, win!

So if I want underwear, I try to be extra nice to all the talented seamstresses I know who make underwear out of old T-shirts. If I want athletic shoes, I look and look and look until I find them used. I have also revisited the notion that athletic shoes are necessary in the first place. After all, what did basketballers play in back when basketball was invented? Chuck Taylors. What do the winningest Olympic track stars win their medals in? Their bare dang feet. I think it's just possible that Nike's success is related more to hype than to a decline in injury rates caused by their $98 shoes. If there are any peer-reviewed studies in feet science that say that encasing your feet in a wad of foam prevents injury or improves performance, I want to know who funded the studies. I do not buy it. In every sense of the phrase.

Meanwhile here is Jack Nicholson in 1978 showing off the car that, if we lived in a more awesome world, we would all be driving past the grocery story, where we of course never go.
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