5 Eco-Tips When Choosing Your Next Pair of Shoes
Footwear has been an ongoing integral part of our fashion wardrobe. From hipsters to fashionistas, shoes can make or break your outfit. Worldwide we produce approximately 23 billion pairs of shoes each year. That is an average of 3 pairs of shoes per person per year. While this fact alone is astonishing, what is even more astounding is that the average pair of shoes takes 30-40 years to degrade! Ninety-five percent of discarded shoes end up in landfills every year!
These facts have led many footwear companies to change the ways that their products impact the earth. The future of footwear is green. More often these days, trending footwear companies are choosing to have a sustainable approach. There are many choices out there for footwear. We need to be more cognizant of who is making our shoes, what our shoes are being made of, and where they go after we are done with them.
Here are 5 eco-friendly tips to take into consideration when buying your next pair of shoes:
- Find a Pair You Love
The footwear you buy says a lot about your personality. A study conducted by the University of Kansas found that people will judge many aspects of who you are based on the shoes you wear. When buying your next pair of shoes make sure that they are not only comfortable, and durable, but fit your style and personality. This way you will wear them often. To be eco-friendly, you want to make sure that you wear them a lot. Simple n’ Delight.com, a website about sustainable living, says that a great rule for determining sustainability is to wear things so that they amount to $1 per wear. The longer you can wear your shoes, the better it is for the environment and our landfills. You are better off buying ONE quality pair of shoes than buying many pairs that will be discarded after a few uses.
- Check the Website
When buying your next pair of footwear make sure to check the company website first. Most companies that have green initiatives will be very transparent about their efforts. Many eco-footwear companies will make sure that the shoes that they produce are carbon neutral. They often use sustainable materials, and directly and indirectly reduce carbon emissions. Check for certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, OEKO-TEX, and the Cradle-to-Cradle certification logo. These certifications will tell you that the company is moving in the right direction.
- Look into Recycling Programs
Mainstream companies such as Nike and Adidas are realizing the importance of shoe recycling programs. Check to see if the shoes you’re buying already have a recycling program. Leather and cotton decompose quicker in landfills. Plastics may take hundreds of years of breakdown, and so recycling is important. Nike’s recycling program grinds down old shoes to use as playground turf. I.CO closes product loops and makes sure that used shoes are broken down and turned into new products and materials.
If the company you insist on buying from does not have a recycling program, try donating your used shoes to soles4souls.com. They are an organization that gathers shoes and gives them to those in need. This will offset some of the environmental impacts.
- Sustainable Materials
Choosing sustainable materials for your footwear is one of the most effective ways to be more eco-friendly. The best materials include vegan leather, wool, cotton, hemp, or recycled rubber and plastic. Used tires have been a huge environmental problem. Some companies, such as Timberland and Indosoles, are recycling used tires as materials to use in their soles.
Companies are coming up with some very exciting new products. Pineapple leather, and plastics from fishnets polluting the ocean are being used in the production of new footwear. If you are buying leather itself, the most sustainable way to wear animal hyde is to make sure that it is dyed using vegetable dyes. Traditional leather dyes are extremely toxic to our environment and cause water and land pollution.
- Good for Humanity
How can a shoe be good for humanity? Well, many companies today are giving a part of their profits back to a humanitarian cause. Toms footwear, one of the pioneers in the industry, started an initiative to give pairs of shoes to those in need. Since then many companies have adopted programs to improve the quality of the world through footwear. Companies can give back in many different ways. Ethical labor standards, donation programs, funding education, and supporting minority communities are all initiatives that are fueling a new industry of footwear.
About the Author
Eva Petruzziello is the Editor-in-Chief of Simple n’ Delight, a website about sustainable living. She follows sustainable fashion trends closely and leads a healthy and non-toxic lifestyle. She is a leader for Eco-Schools and teaches children how to live a more sustainable and environmentally sound life. In her own life, she embraces steps towards clean living. She reduces waste, purchases ethically, and adopts sustainable strategies to save money and keep our planet green. Follow Eva on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.