Is Brooks Running the Best Green Source for Runners?

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Photo: PRNewsFoto/Brooks Sports, Inc

You a runner? Or an exercise-oholic? And you want your workouts to reflect your green lifestyle? Well, the race is ON or at least for me and a few friends to find the best performing green running equipment. Since February of this year (2009), I've made it my personal mission to seek out the most excellent green products in the running world as I train for my first marathon in November. Most people think running is a simple sport in which all that is needed is a good pair of shoes to be active. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You may wonder how much equipment is needed to be a serious runner. The easy answer is more than you can imagine. Depending on where you live and the goals you have for distance and speed, the amount of equipment will vary greatly.

A Long List of Equipment
A list to consider looks something like this — winter gear: gaiters, gloves, tights, pants, balaclavas, shells, jackets and warm socks spring and autumn apparatus: knickers, thermal sleeves and long sleeve t-shirt summer paraphernalia: t-shirts (optional for the guys and girls too, I guess?) and runner shorts.

Then there's the other stuff like water bottles, power bars, speedbelts, quickdraws, backpacks, camelbacks, watches, pedometers, heart-rate monitors, shoe wallets, safety vests, sports bras, energy gel, iPod cases and undergarments (like sports briefs and wind briefs). If injury prevention is important to you, you'll need equipment like a knee strap, ankle wrap, arch wrap or insoles and if you're a parent, there's a good chance you'd want a runner's stroller for your little one to go along with you for a run in the park. And that's just stuff you need to run. Food, sports nutrition, and diet are a world unto its own.

Goal Setting
My goal is simple — to road test ever green product on the market for runners. Not as a expert of sport, or an ultimate athlete, but as the average guy (I'm not a certified personal trainer or a trained expert) trying to walk the talk of being green while learning about what it takes to cross the finish line of a 26.2 mile race and making sure the products aren't just green, but also perform well. So I figured I'd start with the most obvious piece of equipment first — shoes. A fellow green enthusiast and runner (Paul Schlader pointed me toward my first stop - Brooks Running.

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Graphic from Scott Sagan
The Skinny on Brooks Shoes
Brooks has some really awesome green stuff in the works - like their to-be-released Green Silence. The company has already made a green name for itself winning the 2006 Runner's World International "Best Innovation" Award for their environmentally sustainable development products. The Brooks BioMoGo is the first-ever biodegradable running shoe midsole. By adding a non-toxic, natural additive to the MoGo compound, the shoe invites anaerobic microbes to eat it once it gets to the landfill. The concept makes perfect sense when you compare it to the traditional Ethylene Vinyl Acetateâ„¢ (EVA) midsoles which can last up to 1,000 years in a landfill. The BioMoGo biodegrades 50 times faster bring the breakdown period to 20 years! The midsole is produced in a way that reduces waste by 50% to conventional methods.

Brooks' commitment goes beyond the midsoles. All paper use is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. They use only soy-based inks. Along with other responsible measures for their Spring 2009 Footwear and Apparel catalog, the company saved 14,000 lb. of wood from trees (that's 44 trees), 15,989 gal. of water (enough for 1,599 five-minute showers), 4,877 lb. of exhaust emissions (equivalent to driving a compact car 6,372 mi.) and 2,646 lb. of solid waste (equivalent to 91 32-gal. cans of garbage). Plus, for you non-meat eaters, BioMoGo is vegan-friendly.

The shoe box is fully biodegradable, 100-percent recycled paperboard. The stuffing and wrapping inside has been reduced and is also made of biodegradable, 100-percent recycled materials. It's estimated that the eco-friendly shoe boxes will save an additional 1,680,617 lb. of paper (that's 14,285 trees), 5,882,159 gal. of water (equivalent to 341,985 eight-minute showers) and 3,361,233 kW of energy (enough to power basic items in 672,246 homes).

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