Green Shoes

Being Sustainable Down to Our Soles




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Following an environmentally friendly lifestyle can be felt right down to our toes. Increase the life of footwear by being properly fitted in high-quality shoes, performing ongoing maintenance and patronizing cobblers. Pay extra attention to waterproofing shoes in winter and rainy seasons. Also, vegan alternatives to leather are available.

Shoe repairs annually keep nearly 1 million pairs of shoes out of landfills and save about 1 billion animals, according to My Shoe Hospital, in Austin, Texas, which express-mails shoe repair services. The company reports that total global footwear manufacturing produces nearly 1.5 million tons of waste leather per year. Much of it can be avoided.

• Proper maintenance starts with using a leather cleaner and conditioner, followed by applying polishes and waxes to renew color, cover scuff marks and soften the surface. A natural weatherproofing agent, like lanolin, seed oils or beeswax helps to further seal the surface to prevent water seepage.

• In addition to resoling shoes to extend their lifespan, some repair shops offer stretching services and fitting aids to improve comfort or preserve desired shape. Shop locators are part of the Shoe Service Institute of America and Society of Master Shoe Repairers websites.

• Conventional shoe leather not only involves killing animals, but also treating animal skins with toxic chemicals like mineral salts, lead, cyanide and formaldehyde. Materials like linen, cotton, cork, wood, imitation leathers and recycled faux suede are used in Olsenhaus’ vegan shoe line.

• Many sustainable shoe brands belong to the Better Shoes Foundation. Members include Lyf Shoes of Raleigh, North Carolina, custom-made of 100 percent recyclable materials; Osborn footwear, featuring fair trade production and eco-friendly materials; and Verdura Shoes, made from recycled fishing nets and other eco-friendly sources.


This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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