For those of us who are striving to look, feel and do good, one way that we can achieve it is by employing sustainable practices in our footwear. While thousands of shoes get donated every year, even more get thrown in the trash. With a very rare exception, most shoes do not biodegrade. Worse than that, they can leak toxic substances such as tanning stuff, glue and dyes into our waste streams.
Eye Just Gotta Eco Ya:
- The average American owns 18 pairs of shoes.
- Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. (U.S. Department of the Interior)
- It takes over 1000 years for the average shoe to biodegrade.
- Toxic Materials in Shoes: Dimethyl Fumarate,Nonylphenol Ethoxylates, Plasticiser Phthalates, Chromium
11 Tips For Sustainable Shoes
1.) Support companies that give back: Offsetting carbon footprints, many companies give back. One of my favorites is Toms Shoes, who started the first one for program. For every shoe sold, they give back to others in need, including giving sight, giving water and giving shoes and much more. Best yet, Tom’s Shoes are affordable especially with this Tom’s Coupon.
2.) Purchase from Fair Trade companies: Fair Trade companies support local business, providing jobs, medical, education and needed skills in areas of poverty. The do not hire slave labor and support sustainable practices. Sole Rebels (Ethiopia), Oliberte Footwear , Sseko Designs (Uganda) are a few.
3.) Shoes from recycled materials:. There have been shoes from old Kimonos, wool, denim, leather (Sergi Rossi) and cork. Levi’s Did a Upcycled Jean Collection Shoe. Shoes have been made from old canvas, medical supplies such as bandages, FedX packages, garbage (Nike) Subway seats, newspapers, billboards, PET bottles, seat belts and more.
The most popular are shoes utilizing discarded tires. With over 1.5 Billion tires thrown away every year and a major source of illegal dumping practices, Indosole is not only a B-certified corporation, the shoes are meant to last making them extremely eco-friendly.
One that is true to our hearts the shoes made from Ocean Trash coming from Adidas.
Okabashi out of Georgia mades built to last sandals from trash. Plus, you can send back your old Okabashis to them to be recycled into other Sandals or other projects. That is what they call a closed loop.
4.) Sustainable materials; Sustainable materials include organic cottons and hemp. Hemp is one of the most eco friendly materials on the planet. It grows everywhere, doesn’t need much water and no pesticides. Rawganique offer a big selection of hemp shoes. Use of organic materials such as cotton.
5.) Vegan shoes: Vegan’s do not use animal products. In shoes, one cow can produce 18 pairs of leather shoes and uses over 1 Million gallons of water. The market is expanding in this arena. Beyond Skin, Olsen Haus, Melissa Shoes, Keep, Iron Fist, are just a few brands.
6.) Local companies: There are several ways to Buy Local. Buy from a local merchant or buy from a company that makes the product. In this case United States. The following companies have shoes made in the USA, Bedrock Sandals, Gurkee, Jack Rogers, Piper Sandal Company (Texas) Rainbow Sandals (California)
7.) Sustainable practices: The shoe industry is trying to incorporate more green practices into their selections. Nike Shoe Reuse, reuses shoes to make gym floors, Timberland has incorporated some sustainable practices. Some companies use zero VOC glues and applications, reuse cardboard in the heels. Others offer flat or recycled packaging. The Sustainable leader is definitely Patagonia. Their motto Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Re-imagine.
8.) Biodegradable Shoes: One of the biggest issues about shoes is the fashion/trend aspect and the lack of recycleability. While hard to find there are a few that are making shoes that do decompose. Oats Shoes is making shoes that bloom. Puma launched their biodegradable InCycle collection which is Cradle to Cradle certified.
9.) Make your own shoes. Did you know you can make your own shoes? DIYer’s can turn old jeans into shoes and remake broken flip flops,
10.) Reuse; The goal is to keep shoes out of the landfill. You reuse by updated the look, make into planters, make art. Check out our Pinterest Board, Reuse and Recycle Shoes for ideas.
11.) Donate: There are many places to donate shoes including the Goodwill or check out Shoe Donations.
One of the most eco friendly things you can do is take care of your shoes so they last longer. Resoling, cleaning and storing properly will help keep shoes in good condition and out of landfills.
For those shoe-ista’s, looking good and doing good can be done with many sustainable shoe options.