As a company, we strive to maintain our core values in every decision we make and every product we bring into the store. One of our values is to honor the environment and all living beings by helping to create a sustainable work environment, business, and community. While it is one thing to speak about our core values, it is another to act on them and being in the footwear industry it is no easy task.
“Every person discards an average amount of 70 pounds of clothes and shoes every year and almost 85% of this waste goes directly into the landfills” – Compactor Management Company
Being in an industry that is arguably one of the biggest culprits for waste, here are some ways we try to promote more sustainability:
PICKING BRANDS WHOSE VALUES ALIGN WITH OURS
We often get asked why we carry the brands we do, when we are looking at new shoe brands to bring into the store or even considering whether to keep current brands or not, it is important to us to consider what the company’s values and manufacturing process is like. We select brands that have good reputations not only in the footwear industry but also in manufacturing processes too.
Brooks is leading the way in the shoe industry by their commitment to reducing their companies environmental impact. Everything from their certified LEED Platinum head quarters using 79% less energy than a typical office, to using more recycled content and bluesign approved materials in their products, to maximizing their material efficiency so less more material ends up in the final product versus waste. It’s simple things too like their shoes boxes, since 2009 Brooks has been able to: switch to lighter paperboard, saving 12 million pounds of material, used 100% recycled and recyclable material, saving more than 465,000 trees, removed shoe stuffing, saving almost 1.5 million pounds of material (‼) and optimized shoe box dimensions, allowing them to ship
15% more shoe boxes per shipping container. Who knew such simple things could make such a difference. You can feel more comfortable wearing your Brooks runners knowing they come from a company also striving for sustainability.
PICKING SHOES THAT ARE MADE OF HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS AND THAT WILL LAST
Looking for shoes is always exciting and if you aren’t careful it can be easy to get caught up in the sparkly designs and flashy patterns and not consider the quality of product you are buying. When it comes time to picking out our new spring and winter shoe lines, we are quite selective in what we choose. While, we first must look into whether it is orthotic friendly footwear, or if it is available in multiple widths, we then look at the quality of material being used to make the shoe and the process in which it is made. We try to find shoes like Samuel Hubbard that are easy to be repaired or resoled after they have been worn in an effort to keep them from being tossed in the garbage. We also look for brands who are experimenting with more sustainable and/or recycled materials in their products like Portofino, Merrell, Birkenstock, and Sole.
225 bottles of filtered water returned to the environment and 21 balloons of CO2 kept from entering the atmosphere. When you find a product that’s made with Bloom Foam you can trust that you are making a choice to help clean the environment. BLOOM is the world’s first plant based performance driven foam formulated with algae biomass. Algae is a renewable biomass feedstock that cleans the environment and reduces the risk of algae blooms while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Why algae?! the rise in global temperatures, excess nutrient runoff, and human activities contributed to an uncontrolled rise in algae growth – harming plant, animal, and human life – and greatly impacting aquaculture industries. There is an overabundance of highly renewable non-food feedstock wreaking havoc on our waterways, that we can turn into a positive. Every pair of Sole Sandals that we carry are made from Bloom Foam.
REPURPOSING GENTLY USED SHOES
Trends come and go, patterns change, and new shoes are released frequently – it is no wonder there is a lot of waste in the shoe industry. However, we enjoy finding ways to take this waste and re-purpose it. That is why, when we heard about Jim Belshaw starting the Shoe Bank of Canada, we were pleased to become one of their drop off locations.
In July 2014, Belshaw partnered with the Kelowna Community Food Bank to house a “Shoe Bank” to give people in need better access to all the collected and sorted footwear. A month later, it was set up just like a shoe store and with the help of the Food Bank, Shoe Bank Canada was born and opened its doors on Ellis Street here in Kelowna, BC. Since then, and with the help of nearly 20 local service agencies guiding the qualifying process and handing out shoe vouchers, the shoe bank has provided over 4,000 pairs of shoes to those in need, just in Kelowna alone.
Now, in 2019, as a national organization, Shoe Bank Canada has shoe drives and permanent drop-off sites across British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Shoes are now distributed to 30 BC communities and growing!
While we do not make any claims to be perfect, at Orthoquest we strive to honour our planet and all living beings by promoting a more sustainable work environment, business, and community – one small step at a time.
Written by Shayla McLean, BHKin – Footwear Manager