The Incredible Impact of Buying Shoes

According to Planet Shoes, it can take 1,000 years for the sole of a typical shoe to fully degrade.

1,000 years! Let that sink in and stir you up.

Knowing this puts an entirely different spin on buying footwear. At least, for me.

No more popping into a shop and picking up whatever strikes my fancy. Now, it takes time, research, and thought.

But, the process can be simplified if you have a helpful information resource and take to a reliable, eco-friendly brand or two.

Planet Shoes is one place that offers a simple guide to sustainable shoe facts. The online store provides:

  • a list 40 “Eco Brands” (see warning below);
  • A list of “Eco Logical Materials”.

But buyer beware. Here are 4 factors to consider when you are seeking less environmental impact from your footgear.

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Bee Wise

My neighbor’s honey bees have died.  All of them.

She said, in a friendly, but sarcastic tone, “Don’t worry, we won’t have bees but we’ll all have cell phones.”

There is a fantastic die off of bees all around the world, which could have a dramatic impact on the production of fruits and vegetables that require pollination.

In her article, A World Without Bees, timethief reports:

“Can you imagine a world without bees? Entomologists are studying the reasons behind an enormous bee die off.  They call it Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and if they cannot find a solution the 80% of fruits and vegetables that require pollination may not make it to market.   Places bees can forage for pollen without being poisoned by pesticides have dramatically declined, and the cause of CCD appears to be related to diseases from pesticides, but no one is certain.”

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How Far Would You Go to Save a Tree?

Worldwide, the equivalent of 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet everyday, adding up to almost 10 million trees a year.

Astounding, isn’t it?

That’s only 10% of the 270,000 “trees” worth of paper-related products that are discarded each day in landfills and water systems.

On top of that, according to Treehugger:

“Making a roll of toilet paper uses 1.5 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water and 1.3 KWh of of electricity.”

How can Mother Earth possibly keep up with us humans?

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Rising Tides

Bangladesh - Climate Change Impact

“More than a third of the world’s people live within 62 miles of a shoreline. Over the coming decades, as sea levels rise, climate change experts predict that many of the world’s largest cities, including Miami and New York, will be increasingly vulnerable to coastal flooding. A recent study of 136 port cities found that those with the largest threatened populations will be in developing countries, especially those in Asia.”

I was stunned by these facts as I read “The Coming Storm” in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic while waiting to have my vision checked.

What grabbed my attention in particular was the life of the “char dwellers” in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  Char dwellers are:

“…the hundreds of thousands of people who inhabit the constantly changing islands, or chars, on the floodplains of Bangladesh’s three major rivers—the Padma, Jamuna, and Meghna. These islands, many covering less than a square mile, appear and vanish constantly, rising and falling with the tide, the season, the phase of the moon, the rainfall, and the flow of rivers upstream.”

Yes, these islands are constantly disappearing.  And so char dwellers are constantly moving – as often as once a year or more.  Since the islands can suddenly disappear, they are prepared to move in a matter of moments.  They create highly portable homes that can be taken down, moved, and put back together at a new location in a matter of hours.  They live with their suitcases at the foot of their beds.  The char dwellers are the epitome of resiliency and adaptability.

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