Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eco-Friendly Shoe Companies Strive Toward Sustainable Products

"Green" is on the tip of everyone's tongue, but what does it mean to be "green?" And for that matter, what makes a company "eco-friendly?" These are important questions consumers should be asking themselves, and questions I've been asking myself about some of the products we offer. So I did some research on three brands we carry that consider themselves eco-friendly. El Naturalista, Terra Plana, and Simple have taken on the ethical responsibility of paving the way toward sustainable shoes. Sustainable shoes would use resources that are easily renewable and can be harvested without damage to the environment from which they are taken.

These three companies use a variety of recycled materials including rubber, polyurethane, cork, carbon, plastics, and even car and bike tires. They also try to use 100% biodegradable materials such as crepe rubber, jute, and bamboo. El Naturalista makes a strident effort to use natural materials and dyes, and to avoid polluting substances wherever possible. While each company has taken a slightly different approach in material usage, all seem to be striving toward the long-term goal of 100% sustainable shoe making.

Are there truly "sustainable" or "green" shoes? Terra Plana sums it up in their Ethical Policy: "Sustainable shoes are like the stars, We may never succeed in making them..." And although they may never succeed in a making a completely sustainable shoe, the important thing is that they're trying. We are in the midst of societal change, and these companies recognize the need and importance of this change. Sustainable shoe making is a constant process of re-evaluating material usage, as well as production methods. For an eye opening look at shoe production on the international level, check out the Terra Plana blog concerning shoe production in China.

Although there is not a 100% sustainable shoe currently on the market, there are companies out there working hard towards this goal. Make it one of your priorities as a consumer to be informed about the products you purchase, as well as the ethical policies of the companies that make those products. The goal of a healthy Earth goes hand-in-hand with the goal of sustainable products. Give your support to those that support change!

Written by Halle A. Riddlebarger