5 Things To Look for when Shopping Ethically for A New Pair of Shoes

This post is a guest post from the folks behind the newly released Bendy Shoe - they’re sharing their expertise to help make navigating ethical shoe shopping a bit simpler. Check out their Kickstarter Campaign here!


Every purchase you make will leave a footprint on the planet. We all understand the importance of responsible consumption, yet there are few guidelines or road maps. Ethical shoe shopping can be tricky but there are many things you can start to do right now to make a difference. Thankfully, many shoe brands are using ethical and responsible principles when building their products. This list will help you know what to look for to lower emissions, reduce landfill or to ensure workers were treated fairly and paid and honest wage when making your pair.

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1. Leather shoes

The first shoes on record were from the Stone Age, and guess what? They were leather. Leather was breathable, durable, pliable and readily available as it was a by-product, so it was a great choice for covering the foot. The same thing holds true now. Savvy vintage shoppers know that the oldies and goodies are not the synthetic or fabric pairs. The coveted finds are typically high-quality leather ones that have lasted for decades. Leather can be cleaned and polished to look great year after year. Buy the best quality that fits into your budget. You will probably tire of the styling before they wear out. If this mindset leads to less purchases, then congratulations, you are doing your part in reducing emissions and landfill.

2. Can your repair your shoes?

Before you discard a broken pair of shoes, try a cobbler. A good shoe repair professional can work miracles. As long as the upper is in good shape there is a good chance they can be restored. Don’t let the prices deter you either, $20-$40 can give your shoes new life. It’s better to spend the money and keep the shoes in your rotation than have them end up in landfill.

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3. Fair trade brands

These brands help craftsman and sometimes, women in particular, in developing countries achieve higher economic and social standards. They tend to be high quality and handmade. Central and South America and Southeast Asia are both known for their communities of shoemakers. Buying from fair trade brands ensure workers have been paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.

4. Ethically sourced

More and more shoe companies are starting to use recycled, natural, or responsibly produced raw materials when making their products. All of this matters and ultimately results in less carbon emissions. If something that would be otherwise discarded is being reused in your shoes, that equates to less landfill. If an upper material is natural or responsibly sourced, that typically means that less energy is used in the making of it as compared to a typical shoe. All of this means that the process of making your shoe is kinder and gentler on the planet.

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5. Handcrafted in the US label

Since shoes made in the US don’t have to be transported over vast distances, they offer a lower carbon footprint. There are some cool brands starting to make shoes in Los Angeles now. Made in US also means higher standards for workers and for the environment. The US has national, state and local laws in place that regulate how workers are treated: minimum wages, overtime, and safety. Also, laws regulate waste processing, use of chemicals, water usage and recycling. Many of these things don’t exist overseas.

Spring Cleaning Your Life || Guest Post

**This piece is a guest post from Katrina Gleason, the founder of Katrina Gleason Coaching.**


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Think of your life as a garden.

For a garden to survive, plants need the basic necessities, such as water, sunlight, and solid rooting. But for each plant to thrive, it needs space and an abundance of nutrients. If you prepare a small garden and pack it full of seeds, none of the plants grow very well. They compete for resources and tear each other down. The same concept applies to your life. When you have too many ‘plants’ in your ‘garden’, they rival each other for your precious time and energy. You end up with unhealthy plants and depleted soil. However, if you were to select specific plants and spread them out in your garden, they will all thrive! Examine the three areas of your life below. You get to choose which plants should stay and which plants aren’t the right fit for your garden.

Friendships/Relationships

We all have toxic people in our lives. Forcing yourself to interact with those who make you constantly unhappy is a waste of your time and theirs. You could be investing that time into so many different endeavors. Why spend special moments with a person or group that makes you miserable?

If you’re feeling guilty about distancing yourself from someone, please consider this. Do you add more value to the world by being around them? If not, there’s a good chance you’re far more irritable and negative after spending time together. It isn’t fair to the people closest to you when you take this negative energy out on them.

Human connection is powerful and it should never be taken lightly. Find the friends that mean the most to you and invest in them with your time and energy. There is always a give and take in friendship, but when someone is only taking and never giving, you need to examine your relationship.

Commitments

We all have commitments. Whether these commitments are to people, companies, or organizations, everyone is constantly taking on MORE. The best way I can illustrate this is with my own story.

For years I had been a teacher at my church’s Wednesday night program. My schedule was already packed with work and courses I was taking, but I signed up anyway because I had done so in the past. I felt obligated, even though no one was making me do it. The first evening, I had no time to prepare and I was so frazzled that something enjoyable became a very stressful night. At the end of my lesson, I decided I couldn’t teach on Wednesday nights anymore.

I felt like a failure for not being able to uphold my commitment, but when I really thought it through, the problem wasn’t letting go; the problem was saying yes in the first place. My initial reaction was that this would just be another plate to spin. If I’d just listened to myself from the start, it would have saved everyone involved a lot of stress.

If your commitments are draining you then do what you have to do to let them go.  Have those tough conversations, I promise it will all be worth it. And next time someone asks you to make a commitment, big or small, go with your gut on accepting. You don’t owe anyone a yes.

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Habits

We all have bad habits. Most of us are 100% aware of unhealthy habits, yet choose to do nothing about them. Look at your habits and pinpoint the ones that don’t serve you well. Maybe your bad habits are drinking too much, overeating, sleeping in late, binge watching Netflix, or playing mindless games on your phone; these habits have consequences! They STEAL your time and energy. It’s easy to view these as no big deal, but they are the weeds of your garden. You can never get back the hours wasted on silly endeavors, but you can change your habits so that you make the most of the time you have left.

I recommend replacing these bad habits with new, better, and healthier ones. Maybe you start getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. Maybe you strive to do at least 5 minutes of exercise every day. A small step in the right direction is all it takes to get your positive momentum going.

Removing weeds from your garden will leave you with so much extra time and energy. Now, the key is to say NO to the things that you don’t want in your life. Take that free time and start doing the things you’ve been wanting to do for yourself! Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, or just have some nice alone time.

How to Be Patient With Yourself on Your Sustainable Living Journey

**This piece is a guest post from Emily Folk, the editor of Conservation Folks. See below for her full bio!**


You may be familiar with the age-old expression that patience is a virtue, but that doesn't make achieving it any more desirable or easy. When it comes to altering your life drastically by
embarking on a sustainable journey, you may find that your patience is even more outside the
realm of possibilities. Yet you still want to meet your goals, but you don't seem to have the
restraint or reliance to get there, so what are you supposed to do?


While achieving patience may seem impossible, it's simple to overpower any lack of restraint with
a determined mindset fixated on fulfilling your goals at hand. Whether your goal is to reduce
your environmental footprint or to improve your everyday level of sustainability, you'll find that a
little bit of self-control, grit, and driven power can go a long way.

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Kickstart your journey by taking a look at our five simple steps towards maintaining a positive
mindset and patience on your goal towards a more sustainable future below.

1. Reframe Your Focus

When you reevaluate your life values and goals, it’s important to start off your newfound journey
by establishing what truly matters.


The most crucial piece of advice to take when learning patience is to focus on the positive and
what’s within your realm of influence and control. You can’t immediately eliminate your financial
debt, but you can choose to focus on reducing your everyday spending and waste production.
Instead of trying to master unobtainable acts such as perfectionism or forgoing shopping entirely,
reshape your daily focuses to prioritize more straightforward actions that are much more feasible.
When you vow to commit to smaller, less extreme acts, you'll find yourself achieving even higher
results in the long run.

2. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Sometimes, it takes a bit of effort and time to obtain our goals — sustainable living included. You
may make some mistakes along the way and it’s important to realize that your dedication will one
day pay off.


Did you know that forming a habit requires a few weeks? Scientists estimate that a habit is
formed after roughly 21 days of continuous willpower and efforts to be exact. And that’s only an
approximation — changing your lifestyle toward complete sustainable living may take even
longer.


The best part about venturing on your new life journey is knowing that others are in the same
boat as you and there's no rush to meet your daily goals along the way. Whether it takes a few
days or months, remember to pace yourself and realize that even the most significant things in
life take a little bit of time.

3. Be Comfortable With Saying No (When Necessary)

Sometimes, it isn’t always easy to say no — especially when you’re used to saying yes. But one
of the most important parts of living sustainably is learning to say no to the products and junk
that cause unnecessary clutter in your life.

The next time you're in the market for a new product, ask yourself if you need that latest gadget
or appliance. You'll find that the answer is likely no — and learning to say no may just be the key
to leading the sustainable life you hope to achieve.

4. Be Grateful for What You Have

You don’t have to go to the store or surf the internet for a brand new product to receive
something new. In fact, we're betting you have something laying around in your house at this
very moment that could provide you with a fresh and different product — through a bit of
repurposing, of course.


When it comes to sustainable living and being grateful for the possessions you already own, take
a note from the Amish community. The Amish, known for living a slower lifestyle than many
people today, also live a far more sustainable lifestyle.


Part of how the Amish live so sustainably is achieved through intelligently managing their
finances and possessions. The Amish cultivate a sustainable lifestyle by repurposing the materials
they already have and making the most out of the goods and materials currently in their home.
Repurposing also requires a lot less energy than working, shopping, and indulging in more goods.
Pace yourself and make an evening of transforming something old in your home into a new and
refreshing product — you may just find yourself enjoying the relaxation and picking up a new
hobby, too.

5. Reward Yourself Along the Way

Putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed or obtain your goals can drain you — both
physically and mentally. That’s why it’s so important to congratulate yourself for your dedicated
efforts and to reward yourself along the way on your sustainable living journey.


Research studies show that we’re much more likely to see an act through to fruition when we
have an incentive — such as a reward — pushing us toward achievement. A little bit of positive
reinforcement can cause a wave of impact on your resulting decisions and actions.


If you find, for instance, that you’ve met your goal to cut back on water and electricity usage for
the month, consider rewarding yourself with your favorite meal or dish. Once you achieve any
goals you’ve established, it’s important to pat yourself on the back as you work toward a more
sustainable future.


Plus, your newfound dedication to sustainable living will become apparent in your everyday
lifestyle and decisions — an incentive we’d say is a reward in and of itself.


In the end, it’s crucial to take a moment to reflect on your future life journey. Take a deep
breath, focus on your goals, and push forward toward sustainability. The most important thing to
remember that the process is a part of the journey — so pace yourself along the way.


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About the author: 

 

 

Emily is a sustainability writer interested in finding new ways to reduce her footprint and be kind to the earth. She is also the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can find her latest updates on Twitter.

Channeling My Inner Marie Kondo: Tidying Up My Closet

*This piece is a guest post that I hope you'll find particularly helpful if you, as I have many a time, find yourself overwhelmed by clutter in your closet.*  


Marie Kondo is an organization goddess. The KonMari Method is a way of thinking which teaches us to cherish the things that matter and spark joy, and get rid of the things in our lives that don’t. I plan to tackle my closet in this way (and encourage you all to as well). You’ll be amazed by the impact it can have on your well-being.

The KonMari Method is simple. Below are Marie’s rules with my closet-decluttering twist.

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Rule 1

Commit yourself to tidying up your closet. Make it a resolution. If you can set aside a few hours on your day off to get this taken care of, you’ll feel great! Think about getting to the final product. It will motivate you to get through the process.

Rule 2

Imagine your ideal closet lifestyle. Do you consider your style to be trendy? Maybe you’re more on the simple and clean side. Allow your closet to be a reflection of your own personal style! If you consider your style to be more on the trendy side, find ways to showcase some of your favorite items such as your shoes. If you are more clean cut, consider adding additional shelves or drawers to keep everything as organized as possible.

Rule 3

Finish discarding and donating old items first. Before you go forward with organizing and adding new items to your closet, figure out which items have got to go! Although it doesn’t seem that simple, try channeling your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself “does this piece of clothing bring me joy?” If your answer isn’t immediately yes, then you don’t need it! Find other ways to repurpose it. Try taking some old tee-shirts and making a rug! The possibilities are literally endless with upcycling and DIY.

Rules 4 & 5

Tidy by category, style and color. When it comes to the actual organization of your closet, I try to keep similar items together. Sweaters in one area, tanks in another. Of course, all of these are color coordinated. Personally, I attempt a rainbow descent of colors. Same for your shoes! Try to organize them by the style. Not only will this aesthetically look great, but it will make getting ready in the morning much easier!

Rule 6

Ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it makes you feel like you’re making a difference. When purchasing new items, it’s important to make sure you are buying something that you not only need, but something you’ll wear and actually enjoy.

When I purchase new clothes, I also look for items that leave less of an environmental footprint. Knowing that the clothes I wear not only were made in a sustainable manner but also are made with organic ingredients makes me feel good and proud to wear my clothes. Talk about sparking joy! Two of my favorite sustainable clothing brands are:

Pact: As an organic clothing company, their mission is “searching for new ways to make clothes that aren’t just better for you and your loved ones, but better for the world, too.” Their product offerings range from men, women, children, and babies! They are also an affordable option.

Cariloha: This brand makes their items out of bamboo which is a renewable resource. They not only offer clothes but they also offer bedding and other household items. Their price range is a tad higher but you definitely won’t be breaking the bank!

Are you feeling a bit more zen yet? Try implementing these rules into your decluttering process and let me know how it worked for you!

Stories of Dressember || Angela

Stories of Dressember || Angela

My mom's friend unrelentingly encouraged me to go to this talk at the Museum of Tolerance of Los Angeles, telling me I can get community service hours if I just sat through it. The talk was called, "In The Face of Tyranny, I Will Not Be Silent: 'Comfort Women' Survivors Speak." Being a senior in high school dealing with major senioritis, I thought to myself "I don't know why she's so adamant on my going to this, but I could benefit from getting those hours."

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