The current way our society produces and consumes is not a sustainable system, we want to fix this but first, we have to understand why…
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. Most of which end up in landfills.
But why are we throwing them away, is it more than just fast-moving trends? I remember when I bought my first pair of really expensive shoes and still had to buy them used because I couldn’t afford a brand new pair. They were a pair of Vivienne Westwood all leather boots. Up until that point I don’t know if I had experienced the longevity of real leather shoes. Footwear that season after season just got better, they have been resoled oiled and well-loved.
The problem is big box brands don’t want you to wear them for your whole life.
In order to capture more sales, big brands have intentionally driven down the cost of their shoes over the past 50 years. To do this factories were moved to other countries where the labor cost was lower and switched to using inexpensive, synthetic materials. Now to capture even more sales they are marketing these materials as “vegan” (Gulp..) I know this is a sensitive subject. But the truth is very few of these are actually better for the environment and our ecosystem. Most all vegan leather is petroleum-based; in other words Plastic.
For the purpose of this article we disassembled a pair of “leather” sneakers from one of the big box brands, the upper, lining and insole were all plastic and inside we found all sorts of consumer waste used as filler in the midsole. We found newspaper and shredded plastic waste. The problem with plastic shoes is with heat and wear they become brittle and break down quickly, they then they end up in landfills, which depending on their composition take anywhere from 50-450 years to decompose.
This irreversible harm to our environment is why we only use the highest quality vegetable tanned Italian leather in addition to natural rubber soles and 100% cotton laces. Leather and natural fibers have a much longer lifespan and when no harmful chemicals are used to make the leather it can naturally biodegrade leaving no harm to the Earth. I know there is an investment in consuming this way, which is why we always offer complimentary repairs on our shoes, we want them to live as long as you want them to, but to leave no trace behind when they are no longer needed.
No matter your shoe size, your footprint is smaller with us.