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Green and Simple: How Green is Your Footwear?

When thinking about ways to have a more positive planetary impact, don't forget your feet!

I must admit, it is a question I had not spent much time pondering until very recently. On an errand at T.J.Maxx a couple of weeks ago, I came across a pair of casual, comfortable looking shoes, so I pulled them off the shelf.

My first surprise was the brand name on the inside of the shoes, “Earth.” I had not heard of this brand of footwear before so my curiosity was piqued. Once I slipped the shoes on my feet, I was sold. Aesthetically, the shoes appeal to my earthy-crunchy side and would be great for weekend wear, walks through the woods or around town. With great arch support and a forgiving sole, the shoes cradled my feet with each step.

My second surprise was the $19.99 price tag! Granted, I was shopping at a discount retailer, so the shoes are sure to be at least one season behind current fashion trends. But, anyone who knows me knows that I am far from trendy or fashionable, so being a season or two out of date is not an issue for me. After poking around on the web for a bit to learn more about the company and its products, I learned that I really did get quite a good deal. New shoes, sandals, and boots retail for between $60 and $200.

If you have any "green" blood in your body, you will appreciate that the shoes are made with:

  • post-consumer recycled plastic bottles (the foot bed and quarter linings, in most styles)
  • water-based adhesives that reduce potentially harmful environmental runoff
  • 70% recycled content in the form-fitting cushioning
  • biodegradable soles that decompose ten times faster than ordinary shoes

I also found the inspiration for the shoes appealing. Kalso Earth was started by Anne Kalso, a Danish yoga master more than 40 years ago. According to the Kalso Earth website, Kalso wanted to integrate the benefits of yoga into everyday experiences. So, she developed a shoe that would enable people to “attain a feeling of physical wellness like that experienced in the yoga position, “Mountain” pose.

The company even makes vegan shoes!

There are many ways to have a postive planetary impact with your footwear.

TOMS, with its One for One mission, for instance, gives one new pair of shoes to a child in need for each shoe purchased. They have now expanded the same mission to eyeglasses.

PlanetShoes.com features eco-friendly brands that enable consumers to enjoy fashionable shoes while reducing their environmental footprint. Visit the site to learn about ecological shoe materials - from coconut to rice rubber - and explore the 40 brands of shoes for men, women and kids. The site offers eco-friendly bags and accessories as well.

Locally, you can find brands like Kalso Earth at  on King Street and additional eco-friendly brands at Fine Comfort Footwear on South Union Street.

Kristen Krieger September 22, 2011 at 12:27 PM
This is good info C. Thanks for articles like this and all the other ones you have posted. I have enjoyed them.
Carolyn Semedo September 22, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Thank you, Kristen. I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. Nice to read!

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