h2. Foot Fetish


green sneakers
Image: Adam Levey

When it comes to shoes, going green without going completely barefoot has never been easy. Leather comes from livestock; nylon from petroleum. “Look, any piece of footwear is made almost entirely out of oil,” says Jay Peery, director of sales for Environmentally Neutral Design (END), a Portland shoe company that formed in August 2007. Peery and his colleagues—a trail-tested band of former Nike and Columbia Sportswear execs—have set out to change that. To wit: All END shoes use bamboo fibers in their liners, and the laces and webbing are made from recycled soda bottles. Moreover, the shoes use 30 to 50 percent less material (like webbing and padding) and less glue than the typical running shoe, creating a lighter sneaker (10 ounces, compared to most others, which weigh between 12 and 15). The price is a little lighter, too—when the line of 13 models debuts in stores this fall, each pair will retail for $65 to $95. Still, the END team isn’t satisfied—they’re hoping to find a way to make a shoe entirely from materials that will decompose quickly in landfills. “And we have a dream of eliminating the shoe box entirely,” says Peery. Now that’s thinking outside the box. —CDB

Data Dump


Computers are dirty things. And we’re not just talking about the poppy seeds lodged in your keyboard. Each year computers make up 3 million tons of the trash in our country’s landfills, and as they decompose, they leach more than 70 hazardous toxins—like lead, mercury, and cadmium—into the earth. Which is why in 2006, the Portland-based Green Electronics Council launched www.epeat.net (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT), a kind of online environmental clearinghouse for computers and other electronics. The site provides detailed information on more than 500 computers, such as the amount of heavy metal each one contains, how energy efficient it is, and whether the manufacturer will collect and recycle old machines. Models that pass muster are stamped with EPEAT’s Bronze, Silver, or Gold award, a sort of LEED certification for computers. In 2007, consumers worldwide bought 109 million EPEAT-approved computers, keeping 124,000 metric tons (the equivalent of 700 passenger planes) of hazardous waste out of landfills and reducing greenhouse gases by about 3.31 million metric tons (that’s like taking 2.6 million cars off the road for a year). Now that’s what we call purchasing power. —KC