For well over a year, I have been wearing worn-out shabby shoes. I have been wearing these unwearables because I have been searching for shoes that are biodegradable, recyclable, or both (that is, they can be dismantled into their component parts, some being composted and others recycled). With the possible exception of “Simple,” which is nearly impossible to find in Vancouver (and I will not buy something online that I haven’t tried on first) such shoes do not exist.
Now that my feet (and legs, and body) have started to complain loudly about the rotten scraps of fabric, rubber, and plastic that I wear on them, I am going to buy new shoes. Dirty ones. Non-biodegradable ones. Because that’s all there is.
The world is built in a very stupid way. Obviously I’m speaking in terms beyond shoes alone: nearly every product we can buy is still based on that nonsensical cradle-to-grave model. Why the hell aren’t there more closed loops, already? The book “Cradle to Cradle” explored that idea in 2001, and the concept of the closed loop has been around since long before then.
And yet, we still have the same old crap squelching through the same old rotting system, only to be left stinking in a landfill, never to biodegrade. When will manufacturers account for the disposal of their products? Amongst individuals, if a person makes a mess, they are expected to clean it up. Why is it different for the companies that make the garbage we eventually have to throw away? (Note: there is no “away,” there is only a country-sized maelstrom of plastic swirling in the Pacific Ocean.) Why can’t I return my worn out goods to the people who made them to dispose of?
I want to write more, but I’m literally inarticulate with rage. We’re sitting here at the twilight of an era; night is coming. Whether that night dawns on a green world or a scorched one will depend in no small part on what we finally decide to do with our waste. This is bigger than shoes, of course, but wouldn’t it be nicely poetic if we began by moving forward, shod with sustainability itself?