Want to help the planet, one step at a time? There are many ways to reduce environmental impact using footwear. From recycling shoes to repurposing them, there are plenty of actions you can take to help our environment. Even choosing a footwear brand that uses ethical and sustainable practices for developing their products helps.
If you're not sure where to start, we're here to help. Here are some easy ways to make sustainable footwear choices.
Running shoes often have a shorter life span than other styles you may wear day-to-day. After all, running shoes get drenched in sweat, beaten up, and their cushioning wears out quickly. Unfortunately, running shoes don't last as long as we'd like them to. While there are ways to prolong the life of your running shoes, they'll eventually wear out. That's no matter how well you look after them.
So, what do you do with your much-loved kicks once they're worn and torn? As running shoes can get significantly beaten up, they're not usually the right item to donate to a secondhand store. They aren't usually an item that people will want to reuse.
However, if your shoes are in good quality and aren't completely worn out, consider donating them to a thrift store or another organization. Perhaps your shoes didn't fit right, or your child outgrew them quickly. These types of shoes are ideal to donate to someone who would really need and appreciate them.
Soles4Souls is an organization that donates to give impoverished people shoes so they can attend school and work. They even plan work trips for groups and individuals to distribute the shoes.
Another company, One World Running, gives shoes to runners in need. The nonprofit was established after sports writer Mike Sandrock visited Africa and was motivated to make positive change.
Choose Vegan Shoes
Vegan shoes are produced without animal by-products or materials. Many non-vegan shoes are made from materials like leather, suede, wool, fur, silk, or shearling, all of which are from animals.
Vegan shoes, on the other hand, are produced from synthetic fabrics. Vegan leather is a popular option, which is made from polyurethane (PU), a form of plastic that bonds to a cotton backing. Another common vegan shoe material is vegan suede, which is produced from microfiber synthetic fabric. Rather than a leather sole, animal-free eco-friendly shoes are produced with a part-recycled resin sole. The insoles use recycled cardboard.
Petroleum-based faux leathers do have specific environmental impacts. However, when compared side-by-side with animal leather, faux leathers are the lesser of two evils. Animal leather is treated with harmful chemicals to stop it naturally decomposing. These chemicals include chromium, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. Most leather tans in countries with limited or no health and safety and environmental regulation. Pollution exuding from tanneries is a significant issue and is one of the most harmful toxic pollution problems in the world.
Often, locally-sourced vegan leathers made in line with environmental laws are a much better option. Many people wonder whether the glue used to make vegan shoes is vegan too. For centuries, glue products were created from the collagen from animals like horses, pigs, and cows.
However, in the past 50 years, synthetic glues have become more common due to low cost, consistency of quality, and effectiveness. While some shoe producers still use animal glues, most of the shoe glue used today is vegan.
Repurpose Old Shoes
If you have a pair of running shoes and the only issue is that the cushioning is worn out, why not repurpose them? You can use these shoes for tasks that are likely to make them grubby, such as cutting the grass, working in the garden, or painting the walls.
That way, you have a pair that you can throw on quickly. You could even remove the backs and wear them as handy slip-on shoes to take the dog out for a walk. When your running shoes are looking a little worn, don't hesitate to repurpose them to make the use of them and cut down on waste.
Are You Ready to Reduce Environmental Impact Using footwear?
With billions of shoes being produced each year, it's evident that immediate action is crucial. It's time to redefine our relationships with fashion and consider the environmental impact of our clothing choices and shopping habits.
If you're ready to reduce environmental impact using footwear, consider recycling and repurposing your footwear. When you buy new shoes, select brands that are eco-friendly and use a combination of recycled and natural materials in their production process.
For footwear that's sustainable and positive for the environment, check out our wide selection here at Earth Friendly Shoes. Love your shoes, like the good friends they are.
Long-term change is essential to us. We aspire to show that sustainable and vegan shoes can be just as successful as other footwear brands, affecting and contributing to the business decisions that other companies make when choosing specific materials and practices in the production of their shoes.