About your shoe addiction

by Anna Marie Cooper June 05, 2014

As an effort to stand against the world of fast fashion, I have been making the effort to wear only items that are American-made or vintage. The clothes are easy enough for me of course, but there are still shoes and accessories to consider. While it's been difficult, I have been keeping it up for about a year now.

After seeing this video about the toxic cost of leather, I am immensely glad that I made that decision. Shot in Kanpur, India by Sean Gallagher, this short film focuses on the leather industry and the environmental and human costs of mass market industrial practices. While it's beautifully shot, it is upsetting. But you know what? Sometimes the only way we are ever willing to change our behavior is if something does upset us.  Being upset about this – while uncomfortable – is actually a good thing. If it upsets you, it means you’re feeling empathy for the people and animals caught up in this destructive industry – which is more than we can say for the businesses that perpetuate it.

I think a lot of people watch something like this, feel helpless, and then shrug it off thinking that they can't do anything. That isn't true. Here's a few small things that you can do to help:

  1. Don't buy crappy, cheap shoes. Duh. They don't last, and so the efforts of the workers who made them are especially pointless.
  2. Buy vintage! There are a lot of rad vintage stores all over the place. I got my favorite leather jacket at a local Goodwill.
  3. Repair your shoes. I just sent two pairs in to get fixed. Not only does it help support your local economy, it also prevents supporting industries like the one above.
  4. Buy fair trade leather. There is fair trade everything these days.
  5. Make it yourself! I spied a workshop for making your own leather sandals that is being hosted in my city. Now I am even more inspired to do it. Check out what is available in your area. More and more, people are returning to “old-fashioned” ideas about quality and handmade goods. You’d be surprised at what you can find in every city encouraging people to DIT (do it themselves).
  6. Share the video obviously. The more you know and all that.

    Even the smallest efforts to change your behavior can make a difference. Seriously. All you have to do is choose not to buy those crappy shoes from UO that will fall apart in a season, or make an effort to repair something before throwing it away. Even those little things can help. Retailers will listen to you, and retailers will listen even harder to a lot of you. If you want to learn more, I highly suggest reading this article over at Gizmodo. It gives you a more worldwide look at the problems in the industry, and more specific numbers. After that you are free to go look at cat videos like I know you really wanted.

    via Featureshoot





    Anna Marie Cooper
    Anna Marie Cooper

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