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Worldwide footwear production has increased by 21.2% since 2010, with a whopping 66.3 million shoes made each day as of 2019. That's 24.2 billion pairs of shoes a year, not many of which are actually built to last or designed to be worn beyond the current trend cycle.
Even as we push to consume less and better, footwear is one area where sustainability efforts can falter. Though we may not indulge in new shoes as often as we might a piece of clothing, we should still be making the conscious effort to put our money where it's doing the most (or the least, in some cases).
Despite the average woman owning about 17 pairs of shoes at once, we know shockingly little about where our once-loved shoes end up. But from manufacturing to their end, shoes take a toll on the environment. According to a study by Quantis, the footwear industry is responsible for 1.4% of global GHG emissions — a staggering statistic when you consider that air travel is responsible for 2.5% of emissions.
And it makes sense. Footwear is designed to endure the elements and varied terrains, meaning that the materials used aren't designed to degrade too quickly. But the materials used, such as plastics and rubber, can take over 1,000 years to biodegrade.
While we delight in shopping, and nothing sets our hearts on fire quite like a new pair of shoes, the shift towards more conscious consumption means that we often forego purchases. But if you are in the market for a new pair of kicks, there's never been a better time to do it right. More and more, we're seeing brands heeding the green call to offer more eco-friendly options, giving rise to new standards of social and environmental responsibility.
In 2022, eco-friendly shoes look just like your other favourites, only they're made from natural, recycled materials and produced using minimal water, energy and carbon, so you can feel good about your purchase.
So if you're in the market for a new pair of planet-friendly pumps, read on for ten brands paving the way for sustainable footwear in 2022.