Human motion; the most basic form of transportation. We may sometimes take for granted the seemingly simple ability to move with our own two feet. However, not everyone is afforded that basic movement. Preservation of the human body is an interesting form of conservation that we had yet to consider before setting out on this #KnowYourBrand Campaign. Yet through the stories of some amazing people whom we have met along the way, our eyes and our minds have been open to forms of conservation that we had never truly appreciated.
In this episode of #KnowYourBrand, we were fortunate to meet with Barefoot Ted, an acclaimed runner and forefather of the minimalist/barefoot running trend, and discussed his take on conservation with regards to his company Luna Sandals.
Back to Basics with the Tarahumara Tribe
As a highly accomplished ultra-runner, Barefoot Ted was always looking for the most basic form of protection for his feet while running. Over a decade of researching and testing, Ted mastered the natural running technique and has shared his philosophy with the world. Many of you may know Barefoot Ted through Christopher McDougall’s award-winning book “Born to Run,” which features the Tarahumara Tribe in Mexico.
The Tarahumara of Mexico are renowned as the best long distance runners in the world. The tradition of long distance running was developed out of necessity to communicate and transport between villages, as well as to hunt. Tarahumara runners have been known to run down deer and turkey on a hunt. The runners easily cover distances of 200 miles or more in a matter of two days, making communication between tribes much more timely.
In Barefoot Ted’s search for a natural running technique, it was only rational that he visit the tribe renowned for long distance running. What he found was that these incredible athletes were very in tune with the ground below their feet, only seeking to protect, not support, their feet with their shoes. Sandals made from old tires and leather straps are the norm, providing just enough protection as to not injure the feet. These sandals are called “huaraches.” Ted’s first pair of these huaraches were made for him by Manuel Luna, a Tarahumara runner for whom the brand was eventually named. Luna Sandals uses the minimalist style that the Tarahumara huaraches are based on to make a minimalistic sandal that is eco-friendly, human friendly, and high quality.
Conservation of the Human Body
Running isn’t typically thought of as a conservation effort, but that’s where we were so intrigued to hear Barefoot Ted’s approach to conservation. Conservation of the human body. How does running relate? To think about running not as a sport but as a mode of transportation, then we have a different perspective. The Tarahumara runners do not run out of sport, but out of necessity to live. Transporting materials, communicating between tribes, and even hunting is enabled by running. And what happens if one of those runners is injured due to improper footwear? Waste.
Injury as a form of waste is all too real, and admittedly, not something we think about typically as waste. Injury results in wasted time, wasted efforts, wasted money, and even wasted material. Human movement is wasted when the body is injured. In our discussion with Barefoot Ted, our eyes were opened to this theory. Ted’s philosophy has many implications on human movement and human conservation. And he’s just plain inspiring to listen to!
A Car-Free Urban Society?
In our current society, injury results from many aspects of transportation, not just running. Of course, car accidents are the major cause of these injuries. A human body isn’t made to travel at 65mph, and therefore can’t withstand an accident at that rate without injury. Barefoot Ted has this crazy idea to make urban areas that are car free. Crazy? Maybe. Impossible? Maybe not…
Traveling on foot is the most basic form of transportation, and it reduces the waste produced by vehicles. Emissions, space, injury… all are forms of waste created by vehicles. Ted’s philosophy is that if we created an urban society where human propulsion is the most common form of transportation, then we could reduce that waste. We are intrigued with this theory, and we would love to see more about it. We are very big proponents of utilizing public transit whenever possible, and walking not only allows for increased maneuverability, but it also is great for exercise and appreciating the sights as you walk. Although a completely car free urban area would be difficult to create, we could easily move to a society that uses less cars as transportation and more walking, bicycles, public transit, and even Ted’s newest project the Solowheel.
Reducing Waste in Luna Sandals
Okay, so enough of the philosophical forms of waste in movement. Let’s talk about Luna Sandals and their production. Just as the original huaraches that Manuel Luna made for Barefoot Ted, most of these sandals are made from waste tires. Now, these aren’t used tires that have been driven on for 30,000 miles and then tossed out. These tires come straight from the Michelin factory. The tires are tires that cannot be sold due to a manufacturing defect, and would otherwise be scrapped. Luna Sandals takes these tires and makes them into sandals, stamping them right out of the tire tread. Taking a waste product from one company and turning it into a useable product for another company is a great method of conservation!
Initially, Barefoot Ted used ground up tires to make the soles of the sandals. His theory in this was that he could use more of the tire and therefore produce less waste. What he found, however, was that the process of grinding up the tire, along with the glue used to hold the rubber together in the sandals, was actually less eco-friendly of a process. Additionally, the sandals were not as high quality and therefore would wear out faster, ending up in landfills. So moving back to a sandal stamped directly out of the tire itself actually produced less waste. Through trial and error, he developed Luna Sandals to be eco-friendly and high quality so that they don’t end up in a landfill.
Another fun fact about Luna Sandals is that the leather straps on the sandals are made from grass-fed cattle. This method is a more sustainable cattle raising process and helps to ensure that the entirety of the animal is used and there is no waste. Any leather scraps that cannot be used for the sandals are given away to local artists and craftsmen to use in their crafts as well.
A Growing Trend: Luna Sandals
Luna Sandals is a small company that is continuing to grow and grow. Over the next few years, we are excited to see where Barefoot Ted takes this company and the conservation efforts that he stands for. We will definitely be following up with him in the future! Check out Luna Sandals at lunasandals.com, and let us know if you have any more questions about Luna Sandals, Barefoot Ted, or the Tarahumara runners. Thanks to Barefoot Ted and his team at Luna Sandals, you now #KnowYourBrand!
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NOTE: We were NOT paid or compensated in any form for this review of Luna Sandals. All opinions stated are our own and all facts stated are to the best of our knowledge. We do not make any guarantees on behalf of Luna Sandals.
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