One of the good things about traveling is that it alerts you to the ways of life of others. It CAN (provided you keep your eyes and ears open) stop you pining for that new pair of Stuart Weitzman’s Ruby Slippers and make you realize that all you need is a few pairs of Spalding rubber thongs at $1.50 a pair!
The Spaldings are my favourite shoes. They are practical, can be ‘done up’ with a bunch of beads for wearing at night and can be scrubbed clean after wearing on dusty roads. They also have an arch in their design which means you can walk for miles without your feet getting tired.
A more expensive version is the Croc and they have umpteen colours and shapes moulded to your feet. Even, a high heel version, ye gods! But beware! Crocs rubber compound is very slippery on wet surfaces. The Spaldings seem to have better traction.
I have noticed many people wearing cheap rubber shoes, some only around $1. One of my friends has made knitted sleeves of soft rainbow mohair wool and beaded the cheapest ones with little bunches of glass beads for when she goes visiting. Very pretty! I suppose you could apply that technique to the cheaper thongs as well to make the rubber bands softer on your uppers. Use something washable and in hot climates, use a cool yarn. Whatever you do, make it with a fine thread so that you don’t have uneven pressure on the softer skin of your foot.
Sustainable shoes though, may be another matter. While some refuse to use leather for shoe making on environmental grounds, I am all for using every part of an animal that is to be raised or hunted for food or another purpose, so tanning hides and making them into something functional makes sense.
Zapaterias here still make shoes the old fashioned way using scraps of leather and being economical. I am tempted to buy some leather thongs but the fact that I can’t wash them is a bit of an impediment. The cobblestone roads here are so dusty that I wash my shoes every day.
Shoes take YEARS to wear out so the sustainable way to buy them is to get something really good and classic and wear them till they can’t be mended. Re-soling is easy and if you want that pink sole or red sole that is all the go, cheat and get one put on your cheap, comfy models!
Simple Shoes has a great range that are made of sustainable materials:
They make shoes from recycled car tyres, hemp, recycled carpet underlay, eco-certified hides, recycled paper and organic cotton. Their labourers are paid a fair wage and all this is certified.
The shoes below are highly recommended by VegansWear. But may not be practical or to everyone’s taste. They are made in Melbourne. And because they aren’t made by exploited children, well, they cost a bit!
Me? I will stick to the Spaldings!
Let us know what you discover.