Friday, January 18, 2008


(Photo of guilty flip flops by victim, Kerry Stiles.)

Big surprise here, right? Cheap shoes bought at Wal-Mart were poorly manufactured, resulting in chemical burns to several wearers. That's terrible for the consumers and luckily no one has lost limb or life. I think we're kind of missing the point here, though.

The real question is, do we actually think that we can buy a pair of shoes for $2.44 with no repercussions?



If I am spending less than three dollars for flip flops, I can bet someone somewhere is paying the true cost for me. It's only news in this case because consumers in the USA are suffering, not just some nameless foreign worker.

So, this woman's feet are burned, now imagine the burns the workers who manufactured the shoes must've received. And the pollutants caused by that manufacturing. And the energy used to package, ship and distribute the flip flops. All so we could save a few dollars on some plastic shoes?

And why the hell are we wearing plastic shoes to begin with? I'm pretty sure that we've all received the memo on plastic, right? The one that says plastic is not so good for oh, any living anything on the planet? Human, bird, tree, ocean or otherwise?

Do we really think that a company can turn a profit humanely and safely by designing, producing, distributing and then selling shoes for TWO FREAKING DOLLARS?


Whether or not these flip flops caused physical injury to the end user is so not the point. Even if they hadn't, the damages and costs associated with their creation, sale and disposal are the same.

Externalized cost. Embodied energy. Think before you consume,!


Naomi T said...

So...this isn't intended snarkily at all, but what kinds of materials are your shoes made of? Do you count rubber as different from plastic? Do you wear leather shoes? I agree that such cheap, presumably shoddy plastic shoes are not likely to include much concern for environmental (or human) impact of any stage of production. But I still really love my plastic Birki's, since they're the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned.

Melody Polakow said...


Mikaela said...

Totally not taken in a snarkily manner, Naomi :)

My post was a bit of a rant, certainly not meant to condemn all shoes made of man-made materials. Rather, it was to point out just how terribly disconnected we are from our goods. It seems at times like this that we have no idea the costs (environmental, financial, humanitarian) associated with our demand for cheap "stuff."

Ignorance is bliss and normally, it's fine to completely ignore the tremendous impact our dollars have on societies and cultures and communities all over the word just so we can get a pair of shoes for less than three bucks. However, let that impact happen to me personally and all of a sudden it matters? Something isn't right with that logic :)

That being said, no one is perfect, right? But, we can always do better. Make the best, most educated choice. Stop and think before you buy. Does it really make sense that a pair of shoes can be safely designed, manufactured, distributed and sold for $2.44? Someone somewhere on that product's life line is paying the real cost. It just so happens in this case, that the end consumer was physically and immediately involved with those costs.

Rock any shoes you want, just don't be ignorant about it, know what I mean? I imagine you weighed the pros and cons of your Birkis and saw that overall, their policies are in line with your ideals. Not to mention the fact that your shoes will probably last *far* longer than a throw-away pair of plastic flip flops. It's about how we as consumer's come to our decisions, not necessarily the decision itself that concerns me.

Hope that clears things up :)

And, since you asked, the shoes I'm wearing at the moment are Aldo leather boots that I purchased at an Impact thrift store :) I'd say that about 85% of the "stuff" I bring into my house is not new, but thrifted or handed down.