I (Jameela) found this article at Labour Behind the Label
when searching for ethical shoe brands. It is quite difficult to find shoes that are produced in Canada or ethically produced.
There is a reason:
How many shoes are made every year?
Over the last few decades "over 22 billion pairs of shoes produced in 2013 alone, equating to 3 pairs of shoes per person, 87% of which are made in Asia." Why? Because "there is increasing demand from consumers in Europe and the USA, as well as in producer countries such as India and China."
How harmful is the shoe industry?
Low Pay for Workers
We are all looking to find the next pair of great shoes, but because of our demand for fashion "systemic human rights abuses pervade the global shoe industry, from poverty pay, long working hours and denial of trade union rights to significant risks to workers’ health and the environment through harmful chemicals and dyes...."
The leather tanning process
"The main health and ecological problem of leather production and shoe manufacturing is the use of toxins in tanneries, of which chromium is the most dangerous. This highly toxic chemical is used in the process of tanning raw hides, the residue of which transfers to the waste water, causing harmful pollution to the environment and serious impacts on human health, including cancer, blindness, eczema and asthma.
Due to the chromium salts used to tan leather, there is the possibility that chromium endangers not only workers in tanneries, but also consumers worldwide."
What can I do to make better choices?
That is a really good question. I did a bit of research on where you can buy ethical shoes online:
The company Cri de Coeur has a "heartfelt desire to change the face of the fashion footwear and accessory markets by providing stylish, contemporary products that are ethically produced from harvest to high-street" All of the designs they have are amazing and reasonably priced.
Made Fair also has super cute shoes online that are ethical. Made Fair believes in "empathy for every person in our supply chain, whether it be the farmer who sows the cotton seed, the vendor who sells factory waste textiles, the craftsmen and women who construct the garment, and you, the customer."
For the children there is Arambha that "work[s] with women who are committed to improve the lives of their families and the opportunities of their children."
There are a few places to shop, but the most important thing is to ask questions when you buy your shoes or clothes.
Always ask yourself: Who made this? Were they paid well? Are the materials sustainable?
When you ask questions and dig deeper you get answers.
Check out our post on the difference between sustainable and ethical fashion
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