Finding the right shoe in an eco-friendly way is not easy!
In the case of clothing, it is possible to find second-life clothing very easily or of eco-responsible design with a little effort. In the case of shoes, for reasons of hygiene and deformation, it is not recommended to put on used shoes.
How can a shoe be toxic for us and the environment?
The first challenge when it comes to shoes is obviously overconsumption. The industry worldwide produces 20 billion shoes per year.
It is estimated in France that 5.4 pairs of shoes are purchased annually, that women own on average 17 pairs while men own 9. In Canada, these figures are similar and while we observe a drop in price shoes, we also see an increase in the associated turnover ... This therefore means that there are more and more shoes sold on the market.
The very design of the shoes
The most common composition of a shoe is 25% leather, 17% polyurethane, 16% synthetic rubber, 14% ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), 8% polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other materials.
The materials used for their design generate pollutants or become pollutants at the end of their life. For example, when tanning leather, a potentially toxic heavy metal ( chromium ) is widely used. As for polyurethane and glues, they generate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
We can also understand that certain materials are made from petroleum and that, like all plastics, they are not biodegradable. The end of a shoe's life, which can come quite quickly, is not without its ecological footprint!
Transportation and sales
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy used to produce a shoe, the manufacturer Timberland has estimated that more than half of the energy used comes from the production and transformation of the raw materials used to manufacture shoes. The rest of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with shoes come from their transport and point of sale.
How to choose an ecological shoe?
Obviously, the first thing to properly assess is the need !!! We take a quick look at the needs in a country like ours. In a daily context, and ignoring professional needs for example, the basis would be:
- Sports sandals
- Clean sandals
- Sports shoes
- Clean shoes
- Winter boots
We arrive at a total of 5 pairs. When we choose them well, we understand that as an adult, it is possible to keep them for an average of 5 years... We should therefore not buy more than one pair of these at 5 years old, therefore one pair per year which represents 4.4 pairs less than the French average!
A more ecological shoe will be one that is made from materials with a smaller ecological footprint and renewable ones. We can therefore favor organic cotton, recycled plastic as well as vegetable leather and dye.
Although this does not apply to vegans, it may still be less environmentally friendly to favor the purchase of shoes made from cotton and plastic than one made from leather which is generally more resistant and durable. Here we still need to encourage the purchase of leather whose origin and tanning process (free from chrome) are known.
And while we're at it, we're also going to promote ethically designed shoes that provide adequate living conditions for workers.
What do we find at home?
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some brands of ecological shoes that we can find here.
So there are some great alternatives for our shoes.
It is our common responsibility to make more ecological and ethical choices in everything we consume, including shoes. The Internet is full of information on the different processes of brands and it is always possible to question the company of the coveted shoes.
We therefore invite you once again to use your power as a consumer!