I suppose that shoes aren’t something we buy as often as groceries or coffee or tea, but they are something we invest a reasonable amount of money into.
The last pair of shoes I recall buying were my Adidas sneakers. If I recall more correctly, my mom bought them for me and they probably cost around $60.
They’re nice: black suede, and orange rubber sole, and the classic 3-stripes in bright green-yellow — I like them.
But I don’t like things like this:
Indonesian factory workers producing clothes for the German sportswear giant Adidas are subject to forced overtime, physical abuse and poverty-line wages, the European parliament heard yesterday.
– The Guardian, Thursday 23 November 2000
Or this. (click link for expanded chart)
|Company/Label||Factory in China||Wages Per Hour||Hours Per Week||Conditions|
Nike and Adidas
Yue Yuen Factory
Forced overtime, no overtime premium paid; excessive noise pollution, fumes in the factory; no worker had heard of Nike or Adidas Corporate Code of Conduct
“If you give a kid shoes, they wear out or they grow out of them, and then what do they have? If you give the kid’s parents a job, the whole family will always have shoes.”
Today, we have some options before us.
Specifically for shoes:
- Oliberté manufactures its wide selection of very cool fair-trade footwear in several African countries, from locally sourced leather, and they retail at 50 stores across Canada.
- Adbusters’ Blackspot skate sneaker, made in a sweat-free factory in Pakistan and sold online only.
- England’s oldest co-operative factory sells Vegetarian shoes. Which, slightly puzzled me at first but after reading that the founder, in his quest to not use cows leather made a discovery: “a synthetic Microfibre material used for yachting upholstery. It looked and felt like supple leather, but was ‘breathable’, unlike other plastics. After some experimenting, I realised that this was what I had been looking for, and Vegetarian Shoes was born.”
- For the ladies, Beyond Skin even has a bridal line.
This is all I have for now. I hope that you too can quest for fairly traded goods and ethical shopping (as ethical as it can be in a hyper-consumerist society).
For plenty of fair-trade products visit Ten Thousand Villages; they’ve been at it for 65 years!