The scale of the problem

In 2018 alone, over 24 billion new pairs of shoes were produced. On average, that is over three pairs of shoes for each person in the world. With the footwear industry profits forecast to soar to over $500 billion by 2027, the trend shows no sign of changing. 

Taking its toll

For the environment, there are many problems associated with the modern culture of disposable footwear. Shoe production comes with a high carbon footprint, not to mention its demands on non-renewable materials. 

Pollution from shoe production has also been known to affect everything from water pollution to toxic airborne chemicals. Worse still, many cheaper shoes are made from non-biodegradable materials, meaning they are left in landfills permanently. 

The impact of the shoe trade on humans is considerable too. From generally poor working conditions to the death of 1,134 workers in a Bangladeshi factory, exploitation is rife in the industry.  

How ethical footwear helps

Choosing ethical footwear such as these skate sneakers helps address this problem. Ethical footwear manufacturers take pride in producing shoes from recycled plastics. They also endeavor to use natural materials that cut out the need for and byproducts of processing. This can include the use of rice waste, ethical, organic cotton, and rubber. 

Knowing what to look for when selecting ethical footwear can be difficult. Almost every shoe manufacturer has a section on their website saying the right things about sustainability. However, figuring out which ones actually do what they say is more difficult. 

What to look for in ethical shoes

Look for detail about what a manufacturers’ shoes are made with and how they are produced. Raw materials and production processes are important. Avoid shoes high in processed synthetic materials as turning them into the end product produces toxic substances and non-recyclable end products. 

Look for a company that is patently against these practices and applies that principle throughout its supply chain.

You should also look for vegan shoes, or at the very least, ethically sourced. 

Ethical principles should also help out the people that are involved in manufacturing footwear. Workers’ rights are an important but often neglected consideration in footwear production, even for global brands. The right to join workers’ unions is also important for workers in the supply chain. This helps them secure better pay and basic minimum working conditions. Search for news on which shoe brands prohibit workers from joining unions – and avoid them.

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