10.12.2010

Clean Water for Everyone

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6.13.2010

Closet Full of Running Shoes

My love affair with running began six years ago when a friend of mine asked me to join a local running group training for the Los Angeles marathon. At the time, the thought of running 26.2 miles seemed like a joke. I told friends I was doing it just to get back into shape with the hopes of being able to run a 5k.

What started as an impossible thought turned into reality as we added a mile or two each week. Just like The Beatles sang, I too was able to get by with a little help from my friends. For, really, without them, I'm sure I would have quit after that third mile. My friends kept the hours of running interesting -- from the long detailed stories to the times we had to sit down from too much laughter.

I became a running addict. And, though I'll never run another marathon (so say my knees), I do count myself among countless amateur runners everywhere. I buy my shoes at a running store and where specially designed clothes that wick away moisture (sweat).

Which brings me to the purpose of this post, the shoes. When running regularly - two to three times or more per week - your shoes are of vital importance. They help correct foot pronation and provide much needed cushion. Though my knees protest a bit now, running would have been just plain painful without proper shoes. Unfortunately, the right shoes don't last that long. For with all that pounding on the pavement, you need to replace your running shoes every 6-12 months, depending on how many miles you log.

Not wanting to throw them out, my closet started to fill up with old pairs. Some were donated to my local Goodwill. And, then I heard about a program called Soles4Souls.

"Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you. The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 10 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently donating one pair every 9 seconds.) The shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries."

It was incredibly easy to do - I found a drop off location on the Soles4Souls website, went to the local shoe store that accepted the used shoes, and dropped them off.

Of course, I have to hope that the store does due diligence and that the shoes actually end up being used as described above. But, all of these programs require that I put away my inner cynic and just take that leap of faith.

Other Shoe Recycling resources:

Recycled Runners
Runners World

5.18.2010

What a Difference

I still can't believe we lived through 8 years (8 years!) of you-know-who. Meanwhile, though his presidency hasn't been without a few bumps along the way, the following information released from the President's Cancer Panel just proves we are in a different era. I hope it lasts for more than another two years...

For those of us who have already been limiting our exposure to chemicals and toxins, this is welcome news - the more this kind of thinking becomes mainstream, and the more science behind it - the easier limiting toxins will be (as demand for toxin-free cleaning products, etc. increases, chain grocery stores will carry more of these products, making all our lives easier).

Parents and those who care about avoiding cancer, please take the time to read this - and make your own decisions (reports of this kind are best taken with a grain of salt). Reprinted here from a May 12 item in The Atlantic by Marion Nestle:

"President's Panel: 'Eat Organic Ward Off Cancer'

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times ("New alarm bells about chemicals and cancer") for telling readers about a report on chemicals and cancer released last week by the President's Cancer Panel.

I had never heard of this panel—appointed during the Bush Administration, no less—and went right to its 2008-2009 annual report.

The Panel says that the "risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," that "nearly 80,000 chemicals [are] on the market in the United States, many of which are ... understudied and largely unregulated," and that "the public remains unaware ... that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults."
evidence suggests that some environmental agents may initiate or promote cancer by disrupting normal immune and endocrine system functions. The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health, even though we may lack irrefutable proof of harm.

I'm guessing this report will cause a furor. Why? "Lack irrefutable proof" means the science isn't there. In this situation, the Panel advises precaution. Check out these examples selected from the recommendations:

• Parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children's exposure to toxics. Ideally, both mothers and fathers should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

• It is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.

• Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing ... food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers [translation: organics] and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.

• Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feedlots can be minimized by eating free-range meat [translation: don't eat feedlot meat].

Expect to hear an uproar from the industries that might be affected by this report. The American Cancer Society (ACS) doesn't like it either (see Denise Grady's take on the report, also in the New York Times), since the report implies that the ACS hasn't been doing enough to educate the public about this issue.

The ACS said in a report:

Elements of this report are entirely consistent with the recently published "American Cancer Society Perspective on Environmental Factors and Cancer" ... Unfortunately, the perspective of the report is unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer, and by its dismissal of cancer prevention efforts aimed at the major known causes of cancer (tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones, sunlight) as "focused narrowly" ... it would be unfortunate if the effect of this report were to trivialize the importance of other modifiable risk factors that, at present, offer the greatest opportunity in preventing cancer.

ACS says the Panel does not back up its recommendations with enough research. Maybe, but why isn't ACS pushing for more and better research on these chemicals? However small the risks—and we hardly know anything about them—these chemicals are unlikely to be good for human health. Doesn't precaution make sense? I think so."