Saturday, March 18, 2006

Recycling old shoes

Last week, I collected a bunch of old shoes from colleagues at work for recycling. All I had to do was send out a company-wide email and put up a large bin in an accessible area. The shoes came flying in. I'll be dropping them off today at a nearby running store that I'd contacted before embarking on this drive.

I learned something in the process. Most of us don't recycle shoes since we don't know that it can be done. Instead, we just put them in the garbage and ultimately it ends up in a landfill somewhere. However, if more of us knew about recycling, more of us would be willing to do so. One of the questions many of them had was: what happens to recycled shoes? I must admit, I didn't know much other than that they were broken down to be used for playground surfacing. I looked it up online and it's a bit more exciting than that. They actually break the shoes into their constituents such as fabric, foam, and rubber. These are then ground up into tiny bits which then go into the surfacing of playgrounds, soccer, football, and baseball fields, athletic tracks, padding under the floors of basketball/volleyball courts, weight room flooring, etc.

So, if you want to do something similar, it's very easy. Simply contact your local running store and see if they recycle shoes. Most would. Keep in mind they only recycle sports shoes. No dress shoes, no hiking boots, no thongs, no sandals. You could then contact your neighbors or work colleagues and tell them about your sole intention. Most people are very willing to cooperate and would be more than happy to get rid of their old shoes sitting in the garage/attic/backyard, if they know that their shoes are going towards a worthy cause. Go for it!

Sunday, March 05, 2006 to map running routes

Check out It's a google maps hack that lets you calculate the distance of your running route. You click "start recording" and simply double click on each point that you want and proceed to the next one on your intended route. The cumulative distance is shown so you know how far you would've run. This is a very useful tool for runners who would rather not have to measure their route in a car or wear a GPS unit.

Just out of curiosity, I compared it to's maps feature that I wrote about in my last post. For a specific route, I calculated the distance using both these methods. What do I get? Exactly the same distance. I think they differed in the second or third decimal point but that could be attributed to where I placed my points on the maps. This one was slightly faster than, but it's not exactly a fair comparison since this is a utility that was built on gmaps. It could have as well been built on Overall, I think it's very good.

Friday, March 03, 2006

maps at makes it easy to map running routes unveiled its new interface this week. I played around with the maps feature and found it to be immensely better than any of the current offerings out there. You can put in a start point and add as many destinations as you want. But, that's not the best part. The most compelling feature, in my opinion, was the ability to drag and drop the pins that represent the destinations. You can drop it anywhere on the map and it will automatically calculate the new coordinates for you.

This is exactly what I'd been wanting for a long time. In the past, when I would want to map out a route using web-based maps, I had to put in the street intersections for pairs of starting and ending points and do that for all the segments that made up my intended route and finally add up all the distances to get my final mileage. Needless to say, it was a tedious task that required quite a bit of time. This makes it really easy. Very impressive.

I don't expect it will be as accurate (down to the decimal) as using a bike odometer. Nevertheless, it could be a good tool to get a general idea of how long a route is.

Off to find a few new routes to go running.