Where’s My Biodegradable Shoe?!

April 17th, 2009

“Where’s my flying car?  Where’s my fucking jetpack?  Where’s my alien dancing girls?”  -From Doktor Sleepless, an ongoing masterpiece by Warren Ellis.



For well over a year, I have been wearing worn-out shabby shoes.  I have been wearing these unwearables because I have been searching for shoes that are biodegradable, recyclable, or both (that is, they can be dismantled into their component parts, some being composted and others recycled).  With the possible exception of “Simple,” which is nearly impossible to find in Vancouver (and I will not buy something online that I haven’t tried on first) such shoes do not exist.

Now that my feet (and legs, and body) have started to complain loudly about the rotten scraps of fabric, rubber, and plastic that I wear on them, I am going to buy new shoes.  Dirty ones.  Non-biodegradable ones.  Because that’s all there is.

The world is built in a very stupid way.  Obviously I’m speaking in terms beyond shoes alone: nearly every product we can buy is still based on that nonsensical cradle-to-grave model.  Why the hell aren’t there more closed loops, already?  The book “Cradle to Cradle” explored that idea in 2001, and the concept of the closed loop has been around since long before then.

And yet, we still have the same old crap squelching through the same old rotting system, only to be left stinking in a landfill, never to biodegrade.  When will manufacturers account for the disposal of their products?  Amongst individuals, if a person makes a mess, they are expected to clean it up.  Why is it different for the companies that make the garbage we eventually have to throw away?  (Note: there is no “away,” there is only a country-sized maelstrom of plastic swirling in the Pacific Ocean.) Why can’t I return my worn out goods to the people who made them to dispose of?

I want to write more, but I’m literally inarticulate with rage.  We’re sitting here at the twilight of an era; night is coming.  Whether that night dawns on a green world or a scorched one will depend in no small part on what we finally decide to do with our waste.  This is bigger than shoes, of course, but wouldn’t it be nicely poetic if we began by moving forward, shod with sustainability itself?


April 5th, 2009


Say it with me: I am always already “beach-ready.”

‘Tis the Season of the Bootcamp.  A poster at an intersection near my house touts the miracle of the “Booty Bootcamp” – for the ladies, according to the sign.  My workplace is partnering with a local gym for a “Beach Ready Bootcamp.”  Bootcamp, bootcamp, bootcamp, everywhere you look.

The notion that one’s body is unacceptable for public display after six months of winter’s indoor huddling is patently ludicrous.  In this day of supposedly liberated ideals, it should be painfully unnecessary to say that it doesn’t matter what you look like.  And yet, we have the bootcamp.  A four-week (or so) intensive set of workout sessions, designed to whip our flabby sedentary bodies into a semblance of attactiveness, that we might once again attain a form suitable for scanty swimwear.  As if we aren’t always already suitable to wear whatever we damn-well please.

Naturally, these bootcamps are largely just a symptom of entrenched unattainable ideals, but it’s hard to see language like “beach ready ” or “booty bootcamp” and not see them as a perpetuating engine of the Myth of the Perfect Physique.  Mind, the notion of an intensive workout is not in itself an offensive thing.  Exercise is healthy, and if the bootcamp gets an otherwise inactive person doing something physical, so much the better.  But please don’t say it’s for the sake of beauty: it’s the wrong motivator, one that can only lead to dissatisfaction for all but the most dedicated, disciplined, and genetically lucky (not to mention the large role class plays in being able to “work out” at all).

Why do I even need to say this?  Why are we still so cowed by society’s expectations that so many of us still believe ourselves to be ugly, when we are not?  Why stress and strain to be beach-ready?  We always already are.

In a later post, I will explore the linguistic implications of “working out” in one’s spare time, and the philosophical difficulties of repeatedly lifting the same heavy objects for hours on end.