When I reviewed Ahimsa Footwear (vegan, eco-friendly, sweatshop-free) in October 2008, I observed that the store wasn’t in a location that would get much foot traffic. When I went back in February 2011, I saw the “Store Closing” sale and heard one of the employees mention a lack of foot traffic as one of the reasons. Another was that the store was burgled recently, and the Denver police didn’t respond because they thought the store’s permit for an alarm was invalid.
So if you want vegan shoes (made with no animal products or testing), then get yourself over to Ahimsa in Uptown Denver between today and the end of March. After that, you’ll have to buy their stuff online.
On Saturday, I bought a pair of J-41 Eco-Design brown suede sneakers and some Vegetarian Shoes polish (made in Brighton, England; Veg Shoes also sells biodegradeable pens). I’ve been looking for eco-friendly shoe polish, so I was happy about that, but it comes only in black.
It was a little harder for me to find a pair of shoes that met my requirements for style, fit, and lack of plastic. You see, I have signed on to the Rodale Plastic-Free Challenge, and I am supposed to avoid buying anything containing plastic or contained in plastic packaging for the month of February.
So far I have not met this challenge, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about how plastic has invaded every part of our lives, such as my computer, the chair in which I sit, my shampoo bottles … you get the picture.
I don’t like the ubiquity of plastic, nor the fact that so much of it ends up in our oceans and in the stomachs of seagoing creatures. I have recycled a lot of plastic in the last few years, but Beth Terry at My Plastic-Free Life has raised the bar.
So back to Ahimsa. I wanted to buy some beautiful red patent(-vinyl? -polyurethane?) boots, but I restrained myself. I bought the J-41s because the outer sole contained recycled rubber (though I think there’s some plastic in there too) and the uppers were made of recycled fabric.
It’s tough to find eco-friendly shoes these days. You can try purchasing animal-friendly/eco-friendly shoes at Ahimsa or at Alternative Outfitters. You can try buying shoes made in Europe, which are more likely to have leather soles. You can seek out shoes made of fabric and/or rubber. You can try to find shoes made in the United States (good luck with that!); the J-41s were made in China. The best solution may be to buy shoes at a consignment store (I’ve found some beauties!), but that solution won’t work for athletes.
In short, my adventures for February involve avoiding plastic and looking for shoes made in the USA. I want to be less smug about all the eco-friendly things I do and more like Beth Terry, who really does inspire me.