Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Kinds of Shoes Are Good for the Environment?

What Kinds of Shoes Are Good for the Environment?

Many materials used in shoes require large amounts of energy to make. Plastics are refined from fossil fuels, a process that contributes heavily to the production of greenhouse gases. Natural materials such as leather and rubber are often harvested in an unsustainable way that contributes to harmful emissions and deforestation. In addition, many shoes are thrown away after only a few uses and end up clogging landfills. However, you can buy eco-friendly shoes and have a positive impact on the environment.

Used Shoes

    If you want to limit the environmental impact of buying shoes, your best bet is to buy used. Many vintage clothing stores--as well as some new ones--stock a variety of pre-owned footwear, some of which is in very good condition. Unfortunately for the environment, it is not uncommon for shoe consumers to buy a pair of shoes, wear them a couple times and then get rid of them as styles change or, for children, feet grow. Vintage shoes can also look cool, especially when they're paired with classic clothing. By wearing used shoes, you spare the environment from the impact of the shoe-making process, which includes harvesting raw materials, manufacturing, and transporting.

Recycled Shoes

    One of the best ways to save the environment and still protect your feet is to buy shoes that are made from recycled materials. This is because the harvesting and processing of shoe materials can heavily tax the environment. Most shoes are made from a mix of natural and synthetic materials. The natural materials, including cotton, leather and rubber, are often the products of conventional agriculture practices that use large amounts of pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers. Synthesized materials, such as plastic and nylon, are made from crude oil, the processing of which causes pollution and releases toxins into the environment. For these reasons, a number of shoemakers specialize in shoes that are made either entirely or mostly from recycled materials. Many shoe stores are beginning to stock environmentally conscious brands. Be sure to try to find out the amount of recycled material in the shoes, because a higher percentage is better.

Fair Trade Shoes

    While many shoe brands employ massive overseas manufacturing operations that can be dirty, exploitative and dangerous, others have worked to make their products ethically. Some shoe companies try to give back to Third World countries by donating new shoes for every pair they sell. Look carefully into where shoes are made and try to determine whether the process is ethical. Some nongovernmental organizations examine the ethical practices of shoemakers to determine their social impact. Some online stores specialize in fair-trade shoes, and the careful shopper can actually trace some shoes to their original factory using the Internet.

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