off-gassy shoes and implications

Yesterday, I had an unexpected attack of ‘being female’ and decided to give the gym a miss in favour of shoe shopping.  I can’t even explain how rare this is – as a general rule, I loathe shopping and searching for shoes…well, usually I’d prefer to stab myself in the eyes with pencils.  Last night though, it was all about the shoes, so after work, I went searching.  It was a bit of a weird experience actually – I’ve always tried to buy leather before as it tends to last longer – and all of a sudden I found myself deliberately seeing out synthetic alternatives.

Anyway, I found these cute little yellow numbers for $30 and thought I’d done pretty well…and then discovered today that they stink to high heaven.

Honestly, these things off-gas like a plastics factory.  And I’m wondering what the right decision is for a vegetarian who is concerned about the use of plastics and their environmental effects (production, landfill, use of dwindling oil reserves), but doesn’t want to see animals being killed for food or clothing and is also aware of how damn toxic the tanning process can be.

The more I care about these things and the more research I do, the harder the decision making process on just about anything becomes.  When I go to the supermarket, I’m paralysed.   Which bread should I buy?  Which beer is more ethical than the next?  Where are my grapes grown?  Does the cheese have animal rennet?

And now it’s shoes.  Should I wear leather and let animals die?  Or should I buy plastic and be complicit in the environmental destruction caused by the oil industry – and in the waste of a precious resource on a pair of (let’s face it, fairly throw-away quality) shoes?

Argh!  I think what I need to do is try to take a step back.  I need to identify the things I care most about and not stress so much about the rest.  I do want to care, but I also don’t want to become some insane enviro-hippy who gets hysterical every time she buys a block of cheese.  Life’s too short for that.


5 thoughts on “off-gassy shoes and implications

  1. Ahhhrgh, tell me about it! I recently had a conversation with my girlfriend about this. It consisted of me saying “Everything makes me feel guilty. I feel like every little thing I buy/consume/do is destroying the world.” and her saying “Whoa, you really need to stop worrying so much.” which is a recreation on the theme of many of our conversations about the many things I’m constantly concerned about.
    But seriously, the shoe thing. I wanted to buy some Tom’s shoes, right? (Here.) Which is basically a ‘buy shit and feel like you’re doing something helpful’ company, but hey, I actually really like their shoes. Anyway, then I saw that most of them have a suede lining, which goes against my ‘no new leather/animal based products’ thing. Then I saw that they have vegan ones (which I’m not, but anyway) but they cost more. Then I saw that shipping to Australia cost $20 and I went and bought a $7 pair from Target and felt guilty about it.
    Cool story, eh?
    Anyway, what I mean is YES AHHHRGH. I believe there is a point where all this shit becomes life consuming and ridiculous and you just need to chill out. And buy to your heart’s content at op-shops?

  2. Aren’t there online stores that have vegan footwear? Although then I suppose you’d have to consider the impact of shipping and transport. I say buy something well-made (regardless what it is made of) which is going to last longer, and so minimise the impact of having to buy multiple pairs over the same span of time. Stress less, and aim for minimal impact, rather than madness!

  3. hmmm, would be much easier if you don’t wear any shoes?…there’s a chinese saying which literally translate as “cheap buy, expensive use”…this could apply to everything in our capitalist/consumer driven society…

  4. I guess you’ve illustrated the downside to caring about the impacts of your action. Now, aside from the “killing animals” problem of leather, you also have to consider that the processing of leather (I think the word is “tanning”) also used a poop-load of dangerous chemicals. Which doesn’t help your problem…. sorry.

    But, I think that when it comes to shoes (and many other products) there probably aren’t that many good options, from an environmental standpoint. So my suggestion to you would be to buy the highest quality (read: longest lasting) shoes that your budget can allow. That way you’ll be buying shoes less often. Quality over quantity.

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