I went to meet a friend the other day for lunch. She danced into the café clutching a plethora of shopping bags. “I’ve just bought some new shoes!” she cried. I looked at the little ballet pumps. “Cute!”
“They were only £10.”
“Wow, that’s pretty cheap. Do you think they’re well made?”
“No probably not. They’ll probably fall apart in six months, but for £10 it doesn’t really matter, does it.”
Now I don’t want to criticise my friend – she’s a beautiful, lovely person, doing great work for a really important charity. Her reaction is just a reflection of the mind set we’ve all got ourselves in. It’s ok if things fall apart so long as we didn’t pay too much for them.
The question that isn’t answered is what happens to all those discarded, broken shoes. Every year around 2 million tonnes of clothing is bought, with 1.2 million destined for landfill. This really bothers me, which is why I have taken a pledge to only wear pre-loved, vintage or up-cycled clothing. However with shoes, this can be tricky.
Buying good vintage shoes is difficult. They tend to be quite narrow, and it can be hard to find a good fit. Pre-loved shoes are an option, although the quality can be hit or miss. A few people are up-cycling shoes, but the choice is fairly limited.
So I decided that the best idea for me during this challenge was to make sure I took care of the shoes I already owned. I plan to keep my shoes clean and dry, invest in a proper shoe rack and visit my cobbler BEFORE they end up in a state beyond repair.
My mother grew up during the war, and so always had a make and mend attitude. When I was young she used to take me to the village cobblers. The cobbler lived in a tiny cottage at the end of narrow lane. He was a deaf-mute, and you had to communicate with him via a little slate blackboard.
I always loved going to that cobblers. The sound of the chalk on the slate and smell of leather stays with me. Sadly the cobbler died some time ago, and his cottage has been pulled down to make way for a car park. My mum now has to drive to the nearest town to get her shoes fixed at a faceless chain store.
It seems sad in this age of disposable fashion that we have lost those personal connections. However on my mission so far I have started to find them again. I have made friends with a cobbler near my office, and become a regular face in the local charity shop. I’ve also met some lovely people online, via sites like Ebay and Etsy. This challenge I have set myself is by no means a chore – it is an undeniable pleasure.
Thanks to Ms Wanda for being a guest blogger about her favourite shoes story this week.
Don’t forget to look after your shoes with Save Your Sole repair soles www.saveyoursole.co.uk