A few weeks ago, during another unseasonably warm fall day, my husband, in a pensive tone,

A few weeks ago, during another unseasonably warm fall day, my husband, in a pensive tone, posed a question: “Will it be embarrassing for you, to put your coat on again this year?” This seemed like an odd query, but I understood immediately what he was saying because my winter coat has a capital “c” — it’s the Amazon Coat. Along with thousands of New Yorkers (or at least what feels like thousands), I bought a $100-ish puffy coat from Amazon last winter. Boxy, wide, with an unholy assemblage of zippers and giant pockets, the coat was not particularly stylish, but it was not not stylish. It kind of confused my eyes to look at it. Yet in a world where the other so-called viral winter parka sported a goose label and can cost more than $1,000, the Amazon Coat was, well, cheap. Remarkably cheap. One click away. By the time it arrived in my Twitter feed around early 2018, it was a quick jump to arriving in my apartment. In 2019, though, the coat seemed smaller, sadder and definitely dirtier, slumped in the corner of my closet. What happens when the moment for such a specific product passes? Who will be wearing the coat for another year, and who will be sending it to the great clothing ...

Petroleum fuels your morning run as much as coffee and oatmeal. The footwear industry relies on

Petroleum fuels your morning run as much as coffee and oatmeal. The footwear industry relies on the goopy lifeblood of plastic, and running shoes in particular are dependent on the stuff. For runners to do their job—stabilize your foot, soften impact, and give enough bounce—the typical shoe ends up being constructed from almost entirely plastic and foam. From lace loops to decorative decals to stiff outer soles and cushy innards, running shoes are an intricately manufactured stew of acronyms: TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), and PET (polyethylene terephthalate). “It’s a crazy material,” says Sebastien Kopp. “A running shoe has to have flexibility, strength, and memory; plastic is the best and cheapest material to do that.” Kopp is a co-founder of Veja, a French shoe company that built its popularity on fair trade practices and sustainability. Its new shoe, the Condor, is the company’s first performance runner—and a hard won lesson on just how difficult it is to make a shoe without plastic. Veja bills the $150 Condor as the first “post-petroleum” running shoe, though that claim is a bit of a stretch. The shoe still has plenty of virgin plastic in i...