Friday 4 December 2015

Change Your Shoes For Everyone's Good!

The image that many of us will take from the recent climate talks in Paris is of shoes. A huge demonstration set to coincide with the talks was banned by the French government, citing security concerns after the terror attacks of November 13th. But the streets were not empty. Instead, in a silent protest that was in many ways more effective and affecting, protesters left behind their shoes in neat rows. Amongst the footwear, a pair of kicks from none other than Pope Francis.
All of which goes to show that shoes are a simple yet vital part of our everyday wardrobe. We barely even think about them–but imagine leaving the house without something on your feet. And here's the thing. Because we think so little about them, the processes by which they are made are ignored.
That's a mistake and a problem, because the shoe industry is guilty of egregious environmental and workplace abuses. Labour Behind The Label's latest campaign aims to shine a light on the way our shoes are made, and how we can help to change things for the better.

The scale of the operation is mind-boggling. 24 billion pairs of shoes were produced in 2014 alone. That's 3 pairs of shoes per person, 87% of which are made in Asia. There's a real lack of transparency in the industry, which means that widespread worker exploitation is commonplace. But worse still, the environmental impact is frankly shocking.

The main health and ecological problem of leather production and shoe manufacturing is the use of toxins in tanneries. The worst of the lot is chromium. This highly toxic chemical is used in the process of tanning raw hides. Chromium residue transfers to plant waste water, causing harmful pollution to the environment and serious impacts on human health, including cancer, blindness, eczema and asthma. There's even evidence that trace amounts remain in the shoes, risking the consumer as well.

The Change Your Shoes campaign aims to raise awareness of this shocking and uncontrolled hit to environment and workers, with the launch of a new app. It will allow you to virtually step to Brussels, and add your voice to those urging governments worldwide to legislate for a fairer, cleaner shoe industry.

Come on, everyone. Step to it.

For more, including details on downloading the app, hit up the Change Your Shoes campaign page:

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