How we can reduce our throwaway lifestyle—starting with shoes
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
Where do shoes, cellphones, computers, and Ziploc bags go when we have used them up? I don’t know for sure, but it’s probably a landfill somewhere. Our attitude towards how we consume goods is wrong and has to change.
I’ll use shoes as an example of how our buying habits are detrimental to the health of both our planet and our wallets. The main purpose of shoes is to make life more bearable while walking on rough surfaces—but since we moved past that simple goal, shoes have become a major fashion statement. Look around at the sort of footwear trends we see now: most of us are wearing athletic shoes made in sweatshops overseas.
I had been wearing colourful shoes like this for some time—until I had a revelation. I was thinking about my favourite pair of Nike shoes that I wear almost everyday. They developed a hole in the toe rather quickly, and now the sole is wearing out. Then I started to think about the shoe repair shop in New Westminster that I used to pass by often. How many cobblers were around before athletic shoes became the norm? I pay a lot of money for disposable shoes, and I can’t go even get my Nike’s sole repaired at the cobbler. My favourite kicks are built to die young, and that’s why I am done with athletic shoes for daily wear.
The famous Copp’s New West Shoes on Columbia Street that closed earlier this year and then burnt to the ground last month was a seller of Dayton Boots. Dayton Boots is a local company which makes a variety of shoes built to last. Terry Brine, who was the owner of Copp’s, says that “It’s not unheard of to have guys who get eight, 10, or even 12 years out of their Daytons.” In that time period I would likely go through 20 pairs of athletic shoes.
The notion of purchasing a pair of handmade, stylish shoes is rather romantic, but it makes a lot of sense. Leather boots are way cooler than whatever is likely on your feet right now, plus you save the expense of constantly having to buy new shoes. If you invest in a quality pair of kicks that are made using timeless techniques, such as properly welted soles which can be replaced, you will be able to bring your shoes to local businesses that can repair them.
There is a time and place for athletic shoes; if you’re out running or playing basketball, then wear some high-tech inflatable shoes. You will get a lot more life out of those shoes if you wear them solely for their intended purpose.
I’m not an environmentalist, economist, or marketing man. I’m just a guy who thinks it’s illogical to buy shoes that are made in crappy working conditions overseas, sent here on giant boats, and then sold in a giant corporate chain, only to be used for less than a year before being thrown out. A lot of consumer habits today are illogical, likely due to how illogical our minds are; we’re more concerned with staying current with trends than anything else.
I’d like to start a revolution, with its foundation based on footwear. If we buy things that last, buy things that are produced locally, and buy quality products that support their local workers, then our communities will be much better off; and better communities create a better world.