A question we get a lot is, “How do I know if something is ‘sustainable’ and if I should buy it or not?” Or, “What are some sustainable companies for the things that I need?"
The answer can sometimes be more complicated than it may seem. That’s because "sustainable" is such a broad, vague, and subjective word. At Lady Farmer, we encourage deciding what sustainable means to you, and going from there. As long as you are taking time to make a conscious decision based on personal guidelines you’ve set for yourself, we think that is much better than mindlessly consuming. It’s simply taking back your purchasing power as a consumer!
Enter: The Favorite Second-hand Shoe Store
A few weeks ago my mom and I took our quarterly (sometimes more often) pilgrimage to East Tennessee, where mom is from (and also the setting of her debut novel, Angel ). I’m lucky to have both grandparents still alive and well there, which is so special. I’m also lucky that my favorite second-hand/discount shoe store is there, and that we are usually able to make time for a stop! Most times I don’t actually buy anything, but sometimes that perfect pair appears happily on the shelf in front of me. What’s the most fun is that everything there is usually just in one size and style, so it feels even more completely serendipitous when it does happen.
This past trip we were short on time on our way out of town, but after an entire five seconds of reasoning with my mom about why we should stop, she was convinced. Lucky for us, because they had just gotten in a shipment of slightly out-of-season Birkenstock styles (which are actually produced with pretty sustainable materials, and last a long time) and mom found a great pair of *cute* but *comfy* walking shoes for her trip to Italy. There was also an entire wall of only slightly worn Frye boots at a fraction of the retail price!
Gold mine, y’all.
Want to Buy New? Here Are Some Sustainable Shoe Suggestions:
If I’m going to buy new shoes at full price, I do have pretty strict parameters on what I’ll put my money towards and trust my feet with. Here are a few that I lust over and am saving for:
- Handmade in either Philadelphia, PA or Barcelona, depending on where the shoemaker happens to be living at the time you order!
Aurora Shoes, NYC
- Handmade in upstate New York
- Handmade in San Francisco!
- Birkenstock (though I found sound out-of-season discount ones at Beaty’s!)
- I get a lot of questions about sustainable exercise shoes - I pretty much exclusively buy unworn tennis shoes at places like Beaty’s or another thrift store (you’d be shocked what people buy, never wear, then give away...) just because I haven’t been able to find plastic-free shoes that I feel great about buying. If that’s not your thing, here’s an article from Eco Warrior Princess on some “sustainable” shoe brands - again - use your own judgement on what that means to you!
What are some of your favorite second-hand stores and how do you find them? Wherever you are, there is a probably a Lady Farmer nearby that would love to know! Happy (sustainable) shopping! -Emma