After 4 months of searching for a more sustainable shoe I finally made a purchase. I based my criteria on a couple of key areas and then evaluated each and every shoe option. As a sportswear junkie I lean toward sneakers as my shoe of choice because they can serve multiple functions in my life. I ride a bike mostly, so I need a certain level of protection from the elements and from bike parts. I also like to run up stairs, down the hall and unload heavy boxes and bags from vehicles so sandals don’t work at all. Oh, did I mention I wanted a summer shoe..that would breathable in hot weather? So from a wide variety of choices it was easy to narrow down my options.
First off, I wanted to avoid made In china. This virtually eliminates 90% of shoes so my choices became easier. In fact, it immediately eliminated the ever popular Toms shoes. I even called Toms to find why they made shoes in China. Their answer was a bloated and shallow, “economies of scale” mouthful and when I suggested that China was not a fair labour country to make shoes, she got quite impatient and then said something along the lines of “ok, it’s price..it’s just cheaper to make them there!” Toms was out. Next I came across my old favourites, New Balance where they make some of their shoes in America and the UK. Great. Local manufacturing. Check. Recycled parts. No. Sustainability Initiatives? None that I could determine but you could customize your own pair of shoes. Great! Six hours after my design was complete I found out that they don’t ship these to Canada. New Balance was out.
Then I received an email from a site called FashioningChange about a shoe brand called Indosoles. The short of it is that it is a small shop in Indonesia that makes shoes out of recycled tire treads and organic cotton. Nice. Plus, they have fair labour practices. Double bonus. So I decided these would be my next purchase. Did I mention in all this that I didn’t leave my seat at my computer?
I received my shoes today and they fit great!
Progressive shoe shopping complete.
I was recently listening to Q, a radio show on CBC and a writer, 81 year old Tony Morrison said something that really stuck in my head. This made me wonder, mainly because not much on the radio sticks in my head. In her wisdom she mentioned that as a culture we have gone from calling ourselves citizens to consumers and now to taxpayers. At first this seems mildly interesting at best; I don’t particularly like the word consumer as it makes me think of a basic sucking mechanism similar to a vacuum, however once I thought about I was excited and even happy about it. If in indeed she is correct, and judging by Rob Ford’s “Respect for the taxpayers” campaign, she might be, then in effect the future is very bright.
Why? Well, this is not an essay and I don’t have the time nor capacity to explore this is in doctoral detail so I’m going to try to keep this as succinct as possible. Here goes.
First, being called a “consumer” is the equivalent to being called an ant. It is a term we used in business class to refer to the easily manipulated masses of people who we persuade to turn their wants into needs on a daily basis. Businesses, leaders, owners and almost every other person in any form of analytical position have no respect for this one dimensional character of modern civilization. Consumers suck. That is all they do. Think about it. What other action could a consumer do besides suck? So inherently the term is an insult and it shows the lack of respect that we have had for ourselves, the consumer, over the last few decades. Now, in some really obvious ways, we see where that term has left us; a broken economy that only works for the richest minority at the top. Everything we’ve done in the last few decades has been to please the “consumer”, this mind less sucking mechanism that has no bounds, no limits, no rules and surely no conscience.
On the other hand, being called a taxpayer is an entirely different scenario. Think about it. The first big difference is that the term doesn’t conjure up mindless sucking. Next, “taxpayer” imparts power to the owner of the term because it suggests that you are someone who is contributing to society. Politicians use the word in respect and deference to the people who vote for them and pay for their salaries and promises. Just say “I am a taxpayer” a few times over and feel the power!
So can a simple little term of reference mean anything in our complicated, multifaceted world of uber rich CEOs, poor families and angling young workers? Why not. Let’s make the best of it because it really seems like a colossal slip on the part of the mass juggernaut of top down greed mongers to let the word taxpayer fall into common use. As taxpayers you can push, vote, force, protest, pressure and complain your way to stopping greedy people and companies from taking away your rights, jobs, daycare, healthcare, clean air and non toxic products and you can make governments do things like be accountable and take actions that help…you guessed it, taxpayers! Governments have been helping greed mongers help consumers and help themselves for the last few decades and where did that get us? We are fatter, lazier and dumber because we’ve been told to suck for too long.
Maybe being taxpayers will motivate us to not only pay our government but pay attention, pay respect and pay forward for a society that doesn’t suck.
2011 was such a letdown that it doesn’t even deserve full sentences or paragraphs…or I’m just completely lazy at this point after a weary year of turmoil. So for now I’m just going to throw out some of my own headlines that I would have written about this year except that I was too busy fighting the good fight and well..losing and then winning and then losing more..and then recovering…and..well you get the picture. So here goes. See if you guess the real story from the phrases below.
1)Canada craps on the planet again.
2)Mother nature slaps hard when you keep raiding the cookie jar.
3)See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and do nothing about the evil that is right in front of your face when you were elected to do something about it.
4)Apathy isn’t a great video game but it helps big business.
5)Another two bite the dust.
6)Too much “i” not enough “we”.
1) Canada’s PM Stephen Harper pulls out of Kyoto, increases Tar Sands production and gives the finger to anyone who is concerned about clear air, climate change or the future.
2)Japan, probably the single greatest nation fishing the hell out of the oceans and killing whales by the hundreds gets hit hard by an earthquake and tsunami. Sounds like revenge.
3)Obama becomes a huge disappointment in the wake of the Wall Street Bank meltdown by Not making any significant changes to stop the rampant greed and fraud at the highest levels of the banking industry.
4) Occupy Wall Street gets bored and moves on as people raised on videogames realize that in the real world no one really cares how cool you are on the internet and they aren’t going to pay you real wages for getting more facebook friends.
5)Ghaddafi gets taken out by his own people and Kim Jong Il just dies and the world is rid of two more evil dictators. Yay!
6)Steve Jobs dies at the height of ipad, ipod, iphone, and itune mania, and we realize that what he brought to the world was “cool gadgets” that make people less likely to talk to each other in public.
Critical? Harsh? I’ll let you be the judge.
Enjoy the New Year!
In my search to be healthy and to find smarter and better ways to live I have been having conversations about eating beef and/or other meat as part of my diet. Personally, I have completely stopped eating fast food burgers and other beef products..well..primarily because they taste like cardboard and make me feel like a beached whale afterwards…you know “trapped on a beach without enough energy or brain power to move myself back to where I won’t die”.
As well, I am athletic(and want to continue to be) and I need to eat foods that are healthy. I would like to think that most people know that eating burgers is not healthy but there is more to it than just that. If you don’t know that eating burgers and fries is not in the least bit good for you..well..turn off your tv and start reading books you moron. Where was I? Oh, ok so I eat less beef..and usually feel better for it too but as I have recently found out meat production, and primarily the production of beef is going to kill us all faster than driving cars that run on fossil fuels.
Here’s the deal:
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” -Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report
“Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that’s more than the emissions caused by transportation.”
There you go, cow farts cause environmental damage worse than pollution from cars! Wow, not only is McDonald’s destroying your chance at being the next Arnold Shwarzenegger but they are also destroying the planet. Awesome. But then again who still eats at McDonald’s anyway.
And for all you people still relying on the protein excuse for eating burgers..hey, guess what..cheese has more protein than beef. Excuse me, I need to go eat a grill cheese and tomato sandwich..so good!
Just read an article in Fast Company about Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and as a clothing guy myself, I am pleased with his fortitude and direction. Patagonia has been leading the way in more sustainable fabrics for years and are an inspiration to the industry…though I might add that their sustainable products account for less than 30% of their product line. I would like to challenge him to go for a 100% sustainable product line, and I would also like to challenge almost every other clothing company in the world to add something sustainable into their product lines because it is those companies that are putting the nail in the human coffin by ignoring the environment entirely to make profits. As Yvon gets closer to death he is realizing that money doesn’t matter when you are dead. What matters is that you leave your children a legacy and a better planet.
I recently overheard someone in a coffee shop talking about living a minimal life like it was some new diet plan and it got me thinking…so I googled the term almost knowing that there would be hundreds of blogs dedicated to this “new” lifestyle and that they would most likely stem from New York. Why would I guess all these things? Well, because people from New York like to re-invent and rename lifestyles.
Anyway, a minimalist lifestyle can be defined as “owning less and living more.” so says Joshua Becker, the man behind the website Becoming Minimalist.
Without going into the complete study of the concept I would like to add that I think that we may all start to look at this lifestyle as a new alternative to living in the coming years because it means buying less crap from corporations who treat people like crap. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Personally, I am always trying to rid myself of the “excess everything” in my life especially as I seem to move every six months. But that’s another story. Today’s story is about creating a minimal wardrobe and I am quite sure I have developed the most minimal wardrobe possible so here it goes:
Let’s start at the bottom. Socks. I have always had sweaty feet. I don’t sweat much anywhere else on my body but my feet; especially when I drink coffee..weird I know. So when I wear cotton, poly or nylon socks my feet will smell bad by the end of the day. Sometimes I don’t even get to the end of the day before I have to change my socks. Well, recently my girlfriend introduced me, by way of a Christmas present to wool socks. Usually I can’t wear wool anything but these merino wool socks were the heavy winter version and for some reason they did not itch. (That reason just happens to be that Merino wool is a finer yarn than regular wool.)
So I wore them for a day.
They didn’t smell.
I was amazed so I wore them for another day.
5 days later they didn’t smell but I was getting a little nervous.
I decided to wash them because, even though they really didn’t smell, I was starting to creep myself out. Since that day I have averaged at least a work week out of a single pair of wool socks thus cutting down on the need to do laundry and the need to have huge drawer of rotating socks. Not only does it save you time and money on laundry but it also saves the environment too!However, the average cost of merino socks is somewhere around 14-20 dollars but considering the huge advantages, durability and extended use it makes for a really good investment.
Just in case you are concerned, I consider myself a very clean person, showering everyday and attending business meetings where I don’t have the option to be unclean or smelly. I would advise anyone to try this out because it made my life a lot simpler…and I guess more minimal because I have less socks and laundry. Next time we’ll chat about pants that you can wear for a month without washing.
P.S. The socks that I wear are Smartwool and Wigwam but there are numerous companies out there making merino wool socks. If you are sensitive to wool like I am you might want to rub them on your skin for a few minutes before buying.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here because designing groundbreaking garments is taking most of my time now.ha. But I just saw this beast and it’s getting close to Christmas..so Santa are you listening because I would like this Grace e-bike. Ok, I don’t really need it but I’m asking for it because it is by far the best looking E-bike I have ever seen. This is what is going to make people get out of their cars and ride to work. I mean who wouldn’t want to be seen racing down the street at a max. speed of 45 km/hr in the downtown core on this gem. Although, it’s probably a little heavy to pedal-I couldn’t find out how much it weighed on the website so if anyone knows?
That’s it. Short. Sweet. Good eco design. Enjoy. Happy Holidays!
I have spent the morning reading articles, blogs and twitters about Rob Ford winning the election for Mayor of Toronto and I would like to add my “two cents here”. Why? Because most young, downtowners and left leaning types are baffled by the results. Plus, I think the rest of Canada may be baffled by the results as well considering that Vancouver, and now Calgary, have elected “progressive” mayors. When I say “progressive” I mean a platform that incorporates taxes, transportation, culture and the environment in balanced way. I could go into more detail but it would bore you and quite simply Rob Ford ran on a campaign to cut taxes, red tape and spending; nothing else. While it is in part admirable that he wants to cut spending in a recession it does not represent a progressive approach to manage an international city. I think this where we have a great divide. A lot of people think that this approach is too limited. A lot of those people live downtown. Other people, those in the majority just want to pay less taxes….that’s it.
Regardless, Rob Ford won because of marketing. He was better at condensing his message into “respect for taxpayers”, “end the gravy train” and “I’m just a regular, honest guy who makes mistakes too”. But don’t kid yourselves he had help from the Conservative Party of Canada and from the Republican Party in the U.S. Let me repeat that…the Republican Party of the USA!! You can Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and the Bush presidency for what is effectively now winning elections in Canada. The campaign strategy goes like this: find big chunks of the population and measure their emotional responses to current issues like the recession. Of course, a lot of people are afraid they will lose their job, lifestyle etc. and they realize that everything is getting more expensive..especially for older people who grew pretty wealthy in the last few decades and are now looking at retirement. Oh, did I fail to mention that the majority of Canadians are over 50?
So here’s the mass thought consensus: “I’m scared for my future. Everything is more expensive now.”
And here’s the Rob Ford plan(and the Conservative and Republican Party): “Get mad! Blame your government for overspending and throw the bastards out!” “Rob Ford is like you. He’s mad. He wants to stop the ridiculous spending too! Oh, and he’s a regular guy like you.” “Vote for him and he’ll get the job done!”
Brilliant. Simple. To the point. Now get thousands of people to repeat this message to your target demographic and also make sure you tell them that…and this is key; “You can’ trust the other guys. They spend too much money.”
This strategy works for Coke, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Starbucks and George Bush.
Does this mean that stupid people voted for Ford? No. It means that the other candidates didn’t understand marketing. Think of it this way; Rob Ford is like Tim Hortons, George Smitherman is like Starbucks and Joe Pantalone is like your local, independent coffee shop. Time to get a coffee.