May starts the rainy season here in South Florida. By “rain” I don’t mean drizzle, I mean torrential down pour. Determined that I will not spend another rainy season slogging through dirty water with out the protection of rain boots, I did a bit of research. Like I said in an earlier post, rubber takes at least 1,000 years to decompose so I was naturally skeptical about buying a new pair of boots and I haven’t had much luck in that department at the thrift stores. The good news is, there are ways to recycle rubber. Although it isn’t picked up at curb side like glass, paper, and plastic most city recycling centers do accept rubber for recycling. Recycled rubber can be made into new consumer goods such as shoes and rubber matting or chipped to make playground mulch.
For the past month, shoe shopping has been the bain of my existence. Having graduated from college, I am forced to face the fact that living in my dearly loved Sanuk flip-flops is no longer acceptable. I am trying get the world to take me seriously as a freelance artist and business women while the only thing my flops take seriously is the beach. So, the trials begin.
My demands in the shoe department leave even the most seasoned retail veterans cowering in the back corner of the storeroom. The shoe I want is eco-friendly and comfy (as my flops rather loudly suggest, I am a bit of a bum). Sounds easily enough, but that is just the beginning. I also need elegant and affordable. This is where the headache starts. Eco-friendly shoes that are elegant are rather expensive and those that I can afford are only available online, which means that I have no idea about the comfy factor.
Sometimes, knowledge is a burden. No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t justify buying a new pair of standard of shoes. I use to tell myself it was ok since I honestly wear my shoes to death, but even a worn out pair of conventional shoes leaves a negative ecological imprint. The standard pair of shoes is created with a brand-new rubber sole that takes at least 1,000 years to decompose. Considering how many pairs of shoes the average person goes through in a life time, that fact is astounding. Since I absolutely need shoes, I decided to do a bit of research to aid in making a wise decision in my next shoe purchase.
leather: 24-40 years
cork: 8-9 years
canvas: 1 year
wood: 8 weeks-2 months
I know that the eco-friendly/sustainability issue goes much further than decomposition, but for now that is about as far as my budget will allow me to go. I have been combing my favorite recycling facility (thrift store) for a like-new pair of suitable shoes in my size, but unless I hit pay dirt soon I will have to break down and make an informed purchase of conventionally made shoes. Knowing that cork is a sustainable resource does make it more desirable than wood (dispite woods quick decomposition rate), so I will be looking for pair of cork wedges with a neutral colored canvas upper. In the mean time, I am seriously doing some research on making my own shoes.