Saturday, March 12, 2016

Buy Less, Choose Well

I have a pair of Bostonian dress shoes very much like the one pictured above. The shoe in the photo is new while mine are roughly twenty years old but they are virtually identical because this is a classic look. I have Doc Martins and other more contemporary footwear, but I just like the retro look with a suit. The problem was that while the uppers on my shoes were pristine (I take care of shoes) the soles were pooched. Could they be replaced? Yes. for $70, or approximately half the price of a new pair, and almost as much as other decent dress shoes on sale. So why not just toss them?

I have seen shoe factories in developing countries and been appalled at the working conditions and what gets dumped in the waterways as industrial effluent. In India, which produces 8% of the world's leather, the mighty Ganges River is a toxic mess, in no small part because of industrial outflow.

This second photo is of a tannery worker in India who is permanently scarred by chemicals from the workplace. A documentary called The True Cost urges us to consider the effect of our buying habits on those who produce the garments we wear and discard without much consideration.
The True Cost’ documentary shows the human and environmental cost of fast fashion for garment workers and developing countries

In the end I went ahead and had the shoes resoled by the repair guy who looks well past retirement and probably won't find anyone to take on his business. Who repairs stuff anymore? I'll hope that the shoes last a few more years. They look virtually new.

This may be a rather quixotic notion of making a difference, and I can afford $70 to fix a pair of shoes while this would be out of the reach of many. I do hope that as a Christian I can figure out how to "buy less and choose well" as one aspect of faithful living.

What are your thoughts about all this?

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