Tag Archives: Nike

Getting into Better Shape with Technology


When summer comes along, and the warm sun and blue skies banish the gloom of winter back whence it came, it’s normal for us all to want to look our best. Everyone naturally puts on a few pounds in winter, between the claustrophobic confines causing our exercise routines to suffer, and the body’s natural storing of fat when cold weather rolls around.

Not only do we feel better physically and emotionally for putting the work into a summer exercise routine – our health and longevity benefit as well. Still, as the mercury rises in those thermometers, many of us fall short of our fitness goals, owing to how back breaking and tedious exercise can often be. Continue reading

Why I Love Sports

I’m a HUGE sports fan. Like MASSIVE, which is entirely curious because in my family I’m pretty much the only one. When I was 11 years old or so, I begged my father to take me to opening day at Fenway Park in Boston to see the Red Sox play. He looked at me curiously and asked me if they were playing the Celtics. You get the point.

Anyway, it’s one of the reasons I’ve been obsessed with the whole Tiger Woods thing. What I always loved about Tiger was that when I watched him on the golf course i knew I was watching all-time greatness. Like Michael Jordan or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. Like Kobe Bryant (who I can’t stand, but man is that guy awesome). Like Manning and Brady. Like Gretzky and Sid the Kid. Alas…

What I hated about Tiger was not really Tiger himself. His "transgressions", which while spectacularly tawdry and fascinating, were really between him and his wife. Well except that they ran so catastrophically in contrast to the image he so carefully crafted with all of his million dollar sponsors. That was really the reason why I got so irritated last week when I saw Tiger’s new Nike commercial and felt compelled to blog about it here.

Despite all of that, I watched a lot of the Masters this weekend. And I paid special attention when Tiger was driving, putting, pitching, and even just walking down the fairway. I suppose to that extent, I remain addicted to the drama of it all, because there was a part of me that was very much cheering for the guy, because I suppose it would have made one hell of a mythic story to see him resurrect himself from the ashes so dramatically back up to the triumphant heights of victory.

But then something even better – no MUCH BETTER – happened. Phil Mickelson – the perennial nice guy to Tiger’s now well documented bad guy – won in rather spectacular fashion. And when he did, he kissed his cancer stricken-wife and invoked his cancer-stricken mom. And well shit, that’s an even more mythic story in my opinion if Nike still has a few coins in the wallet.

There’s something pretty awesome about Sports to me and always has been. I dare say it’s spiritual which my father would probably contest. I’m actually thinking about writing my next book about it – the connection between spirituality and sports, but I’m getting off-track.

Back to Tiger and Mick. Back to scandal and the spectacular. You’know what’s terrible – watching Phil kiss his wife and tear up talking about how meaningful it was to win the Masters after such a difficult year, I found myself wondering what skeletons he had in his closet and when they’ll come out (hello Sandra Bulleck). But then I checked myself.  For today anyway, I’m blissfully ignorant of anything that may taint witnessing the true "thrill of victory" and I’m okay with buying into the story once more that even Nike couldn’t make up.



When the Tiger Woods madness first ignited in late November, I was all over it. I read with great interest some of the many scandalous allegations, and watched with jaw-dropping shock at how one of the most celebrated icons of modern pop culture crashed from his pedestal into the ashes of total self-annihilation.

In the aftermath, I tried to look at Tiger’s whole fiery downfall with some perspective (here’s my blog way back then). I tried to look at it with some empathy. And I tried to figure out where – aside from Tiger himself whose behavior was so reckless and pathological – the blame lay for what happened to him. As a consumer of media, a buyer of the myths that sneaker outfits, sports drinks, and car companies create to hawk their wares, I pointed to myself. I helped create the Tiger myth by buying the slick, fearless, perfect image of him that Nike and Gatorade and Chrysler souped up and sold. And so I swore to myself I wouldn’t buy the hype again when it inevitably came back.

Because I knew it was coming. I just didn’t expect it this fast. And to be honest, I’m kind of infuriated by it. Today, in advance of Tiger’s return to the links tomorrow at the Masters, Nike released a new commercial featuring Tiger – embracing him and all his flaws, and of course exploiting them to the very end in order to, of course, sell more wares. Watch the commercial yourself so I don’t have to describe it. It’s just a single long shot of Tiger while his deceased father goes on about how bad Tiger f’ed up and what he was thinking and feeling when he was doing it. Go crazy with your own crude jokes….now.

Look, Nike’s doing what Nike does. They stood by their man and they damn sure are going to make sure Tiger earns back a few pennies for them, if even it means picking at his fresh scabs to see if there are some dollar bills hiding beneath them.

Tiger, yeah I guess he’s willing to soil himself (pun intended) and once again start tapping that well (pun intended) to get back in the good graces of consumers. Admittedly I find the whole thing distasteful – Tiger’s willingness to so quickly exploit his and his family’s shame to make a buck. And Nike’s using his dead father’s voice – a celebrated philanderer himself by the way – to resurrect Tiger’s brand.

But who I really am pointing the finger at, once again, is us: the consumers. Are we going to go along for this ride? Are we going to play stooges again? Buy into Tiger’s comeback, his resurrection, and spiritual awakening story, imprinted with a Nike swish for good measure? Come on people, just don’t do it all over again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m watching the Masters this weekend and with great curiosity to see if the brother’s golf game is as strong as it was a few months ago when he was ploughing not just through the competition, but well seemingly everyone else as well. But spare me Nike. Don’t tell me what to think about the dude. Don’t just do me the same you wan’t me to just do it. And well, yeah thanks for dropping the Just Do It from Tiger’s new commercial. Way to stay classy.


What’s Up With the Rainforest: City Exodus Adds to Fears for Haiti Crops

We are in an age where issues have an increased complexity and are global in scope. Citizens all over the world have an increased responsibility over issues that by there very nature connect all of us together. Isolationism and unilateral policies on issues of environmental conservation and protections can no longer be a policy stance. Deforestation and climate change are issues of global importance, that will require collective ambition and collective action. We were delighted to see this point of view come across the Rainforest Newsladder this week. You posted some important stories on the impacts of these issues on the individual level – from the devastation in Haiti to consumer choices in Europe, our top stories this week highlight how choices affect our future. Along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, we invite you to become a part of the conversation. The Rainforest Newsladder is a collection of stories from all over the world that are posted by individuals like you, who want to make sure these important issues are getting attention. We use the this weekly post to highlight some of the best user posts from throughout the week.

Our first story brings us to the devastation in Haiti, as a country tries to rebuild. Haiti was a fragile nation with a fragile economy and infrastructure before the earthquake. Those problems have increased exponentially as people are beginning an exodus from Port-au-Prince to the rural areas in search of food, shelter, and opportunity. Will they find anything when they get there? According to a recent article in the Financial Times, 97% of Haiti’s rainforest have been destroyed due to decades of slash and burn agriculture policies. This has created a serious depletion in soil nutrients, which has in turn reduced the amount of arable land. The complexity of the problem was compounded when the Agricultural Ministry was destroyed by the earthquake and with it valuable information on the upcoming planting season that is only a month away. These are issues that do not have a simple answer, so we encourage you to continue to post stories to the Rainforest Newsladder and keep Haiti’s redevelopment and land-use practices in the news cycle.

Next we move to the UK, where a BBC commentary by Andrew Mitchell is striking a cord with how consumption drives rainforest destruction. His piece almost seems redundant if you have been following this issue. Simply put, consumer choices in wealthier and emerging economies are driving land-use policies in countries where rainforest destruction is a profitable business. The story sites destruction of rainforests in Brazil for cattle grazing and destruction of rainforests in Indonesia for palm oil production. This seems like a story that continues to be told, but for good reason. If systems will not change, Mitchell is urging consumers to make the change. We back this idea and for it to work we need to be more conscious consumers. This means not buying products that are taking advantage of the current system of rainforest destruction. You have choices as the article points out. Nike has committed itself to not purchasing leather for its sneakers that come from cattle grazing on cleared rainforest land. Brazil’s major supermarkets – Pao de Acucar, Wal-mart, and Carrefour – all announced they would no longer accept beef from ranches involved in deforestation. A helpful tool is also to look for the Rainforest Alliance seal on products. The seal is proof that land-use practices in the production of that product are sustainable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been under heavy fire since the Copenhagen Summit concluded. The Rainforest Newsladder was flush this week with stories relating to the IPCC’s challenges in 2010. Matthew McDermott over at Treehugger, put together a great list of facts and fallout. The article looks into the facts about the Himalayan Glacier melt controversy (no they will not be gone by 2035), and a host of other problems that have damaged some of the credibility of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning group. McDermott’s conclusion (and I agree), there were some mistakes made by the IPCC in citing facts and using non-peer reviewed data, but the science behind the report is unquestionable. Climate change is happening and problems in the IPCC’s handling of these mistake should not discount that fact. Climate deniers are trying to gain the upper-hand in this debate and they are using these IPCC shortcomings as their only fuel, spending more time discounting citations than science.

Don’t wait for this weekly post to hear what’s up with the Rainforest Newsladder. Visit us today and post your favorite stories from around the Internet. You can also continue this conversation on our Facebook page. Along with our partners Rainforest Alliance, we look forward to talking with you.

Deeply In The (RED) This World AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day and the last three years I have written a post on this day. It always to me a day when I can look at the glass and see it half full, but also, sadly, half empty. For the past three years, I and my company have worked for Product (RED), a unique concept started by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa working with The Global Fund

Just as when you work on an airline, you learn the tricks of the skies, or when you work on an Italian restaurant chain, you discover that Americans really really like Chicken Parmesan, my working on (RED) has, every day, given me insight into not only the ongoing fight to help save lives in Africa.

Like every World AIDS Day, well, actually like every day in Africa, over 4,000 people will die of AIDS. Saving lives is as simple as buying pills that cost less than a dollar and then getting them into the hands of those suffering from AIDS (in and of itself no small feat.)

First of all, despite my affiliation and you will soon learn, my affinity for (RED) – today is World AIDS Day, so no matter how you choose to, please do something today for AIDS. There are still so many suffering here, in Europe and around the world, so please do something to help.

I sit here writing this, just as the clocks in Europe are turning to tomorrow, and watching the news, I am worried that the day when we should be turning our attention to this horrible disease that has literally claimed the lives of millions, I am worried that tomorrow instead we will be obsessed with a couple crashing a White House dinner (they should be in jail) or Tiger Woods’ marriage (they should be left alone.)

It is natural and I think expected that it is hard for everyone to always focus on something like AIDS, and especially AIDS in Africa. It is an overwhelming issue and one that seems so distant. However, those four thousand people who will die tomorrow, each and every one of them is someone’s mother, father, brother, sister or spouse.

And yes, there is something you can do.

(RED) is a very simple, very powerful and sometimes misunderstood concept. When you buy a (RED) product, from a cup of coffee at Starbucks to the new Nike sneaker laces which were announced yesterday in London, a portion of the proceeds from the sales goes directly to The Global Fund – 100% of that money goes to Africa. 100%. (And in the case of the Nike laces, it’s 100% of the profits.)

If you want an ipod, why would you not get a (RED) ipod? If you want a new baby stroller, why not a (RED) Bugaboo one? If you want shoelaces, go with the new (RED) ones from Nike. Other partners include Dell, Armani, Starbucks, and many more.

Today on World AIDS Day, you can do a few more things to help turn yourself (RED) and let the world see you get it. You can go (RED) on Facebook and you can help us make Twitter (RED).

It might not seem like much, buying an ipod, or a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but collectively, we have done an amazing thing. Together, each and every one of those (RED) purchases has added up to over $135 million going directly to The Global Fund and directly to Africa. That’s something we can all be proud of, and something this holiday season I would encourage everyone to help add a little bit to that total. (And, in fact, many (RED) partners are raising their donations today, so you might as well get the shopping started early.)


Shoe Fetish, Eco Style.

Last time, we learned that your yoga mat may be messing with Earth’s Zen. Today, we look at another staple of the American workout: tennis shoes.

Not the Chuck Taylor kind. The rubbery, cushy, pumped-up, neon kind that may or may not feature springs, air pockets, reflectors, retractable wheels and motion-sensitive lights.

Training for the New York City marathon in 2004, Sarah wore through three pairs of these running-shoes-on-‘roids in twice as many months. In an era when the majority of "tennis shoes" are purchased not for athletic endeavors but for comfort, these products don’t hold up to the promise suggested by their $100 price tags, she noted (and then doled out for another pair).

But with ye olde cobbler long dead (re-soling Jesus’s Birkenstocks in forgotten profession heaven) and cheap production methods shortening the lives of shoes, Americans have gotten into the habit of pitching worn out (or simply undesired) kicks and buying new ones. Shoe-shopping has become something of a fetish, a joke, an emblem of the spoiled housewife who fills her emotional void with Italian suede.

We could go into Manolos, but we’ll focus here on sporty treads, not just to stay on-topic but because they account for a third of the U.S. shoes market.

The production of athletic shoes is infamously shady, from a human rights perspective. Historically, manufacturing giants such as Nike have followed cheap labor, exploiting workers in developing countries so that they might enjoy enormous profit margins. (Nike has really turned itself around in recent years, however, and is now one of the greener players on the field.)

In terms of Mama Earth, your walking shoes definitely walk all over her. They’re loaded with plastic components, such as vinyl, that produce cancer-causing emissions when manufactured AND during their decades-long (some say centuries-long) decomposing process in landfills.

As for the cushioning that has been the foot’s savior, it’s the landfill’s curse. Typically made of polyurethane treated with flame-retardant chemicals, the soles and lining of discarded shoes seep toxins into our earth and water–evidenced by studies finding these chemicals (penta-BDEs) in human breast milk. This bad-ass chemical is banned in Europe, but U.S. polyurethane foam still kicks it poison style.

Leather shoe components may result from inhumane slaughter, may come from species other than claimed on the packaging, and certainly were fashioned with highly toxic, energy-guzzling methods.

Then you’ve got all the stuff that holds your shoe together. Glues, solvents and such. It won’t touch you when you’re running, as far as we know, but it’s a health hazard to the poor people assembling your shoes, and ultimately to your grandchildren when they drink water tainted by the Reeboks you threw out a half-century ago.

Whoa, player, what’s the good news? Nike has a well-established shoe recycling program, Reuse-A-Shoe, that turns old tenneys into basketball courts, tracks and other sports surfaces. The company also has designed an eco-friendly boot that incorporates hemp and recycled rubber waste.

Last year, Brooks introduced a biodegradable midsole. And some companies, such as Birkenstock and Splaff, have environmentalism embedded into their mission statements.

And Simple’s Green Toe line (Simran loves ’em) are green from sole to lace.

Besides shopping for conscientious brands, you might ask yourself if you need to be shopping for shoes at all. Sarah says emotional shoe-shopping is a habit worth kicking. Simran, who has been called Imelda by quite a few, says make your fetish eco and try Charmone Shoes, Terra Plana or Beyond Skin.

This post was written by Sarah Smarsh and Simran Sethi. Thanks to the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Lacey Johnston for research assistance. You can find the entire Life Cycle series here.

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