This weekend I stopped by REI to look for some hiking boots or trail running shoes. Ideally, I want a shoe that is durable, supportive, breathable, extremely comfortable, and waterproof. Definitely waterproof. I have put off hiking on damp and rainy days because I have not yet purchased what I feel is an essential item. But choosing Gore-Tex means I will not be.
Choose convenience or Sustainable Products?
In my search for waterproof travel shoes I discovered that the seemingly only available option is Gore-Tex.
I admit that I didn’t know much about Gore-Tex until recently and even what I did know was limited to “it’s bad for the environment.”
After doing a little more research I’ve learned that Gore-Tex is essentially the same material as Teflon®, a perfluorochemical, PFC. (If you don’t know much about Teflon you should know this:
Cooking with Teflon pans can kill birds and it’s chemical compounds have been found even in polar bears in the Arctic.)
The never-ending green traveler’s dilemma
If you want to know more about Gore-Tex I’ve listed some additional resources below. But the key thing is this: the chemicals in Gore-Tex are bad for my personal health and they are bad for the environment. But, wouldn’t it be nice to have breathable, waterproof shoes?
Concerns with your green values
I want to buy “made in America” products. I really do. The problem is, I often can’t find them. Sometimes when I do find them, I can’t really justify affording them. It is an ongoing situation… especially when my children were younger and were growing out of their clothes quickly. If I buy second-hand, not-made-in-America, is that better than buying local products new?
We are all doing the best we can, and even by being mindful of our choices we are already ahead of most. So, I’m stuck with this green traveler’s dilemma: Will choosing Gore-Tex hiking boots/shoes that will be convenient and practical for me (short term) or do I find something else that will, in the end, be better for my health and the environment (long term)?
Green Travel Gear Products on the Market
With so many new Green Travel Gear products on the market, it’s hard to know what to trust. Here’s a collection of our favorite, tried and true, environmentally-friendly travel gear. To buy it for yourself, or read more on Amazon, click the image or the title.
Green Travel GearKlean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle
How it’s green: Klean Kanteens are BPA (bisphenol A)-free and made of stainless steel, so they last longer than plastic bottles. Plus, they eliminate the need for wasteful bottled water. See our Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle Review here.Mountainsmith Recycled Eco-Friendly Backpacks (for Men and Women)
How it’s green: Mountainsmith’s recycled backpacks are made from recycled plastic bottles. There are many styles to choose from for women, men, and youth, so every traveler should be able to find one suited to her needs. Still on the fence? Read our review of the Mountainsmith Lily recycled backpack and our review of the Ivy by Mountainsmith recycled backpackWrap-N-Mat
How it’s green: The Wrap-N-Mat is a great alternative to disposable plastic baggies, plus it’s small and light, so you can take it anywhere. Read our Wrap-N-Mat review.Microfiber Quick-Dry Towel
How it’s green: Microfiber towels take up far less space than normal towels, so you can pack light – and the lighter you pack, the less of an environmental impact your luggage will have.Ex Officio Quick-Dry Underwear
How it’s green: With quick-dry underwear, you only need to pack a few pairs, even for long trips. You can wash them in the sink or at your campsite, let them dry overnight, and wear them the next day.Diva Cup
How it’s green: Say goodbye to tampons and pads. The Diva Cup is the perfect solution for every (female) green traveler. It’s made of silicone and it’s easy to clean and store.
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Resources about Gore-Tex:
What is Gore-Tex? Gore-Tex is a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
Minnesota Department of Health on PFCs
Gore-Tex’s Attempt to Make Gore-Tex Seem Environmentally Friendly