What a pair of sneakers taught me about sustainability
I swallowed the bait and bought a pair of sneakers made from sustainable materials for way too much money.
At the shop they told me I shouldn’t use them too heavily, since they’re more of a fashion statement. Note the difference: sustainable production does not mean durability.
First some praise: they’re very comfortable and I can wear them in any weather, because they’re made of wool. I just wear thinner or thicker socks. They’re also easy to clean.
Of course, after a month, the seams on the shaft started opening and the sole was rubbing off. Their customer service were very friendly and promptly offered me a new pair. Tells you a lot about the cost of making these “tree savers.” I bought them exactly because I’m tired of garbage!
Since they were expensive, I wanted to rescue them. So I fixed the seams by stitching on a strip of old sock. Looks shabby, but it works. It took me three hours and made me feel for my sweatshop worker, who probably make ten pairs of these in the same period.
I also tried fixing the sole with rubber paste, but it rubbed right off again.
The sweat and tears poured into this sustainable product work made me think hard, like way beyond “What am I wearing tomorrow?”
First of all, a product that is not durable and not repairable without professional help is NOT sustainable. Shoes wear out, no big deal, but the most empowering experience is if I can fix them myself. As a customer, sustainability means I don’t have to come back, but to the company it means just the opposite.