Most of us aren’t thinking about the planet while we’re shopping for shoes or clothes. We’re occupied with color, price tags, fit, or what we have in our closet that matches the pair of shoes we’ve been eying the whole time we’re supposed to be concentrating on other more practical purchases, trying to justify taking them home with us.
But we should be.
The shoes and clothes we buy heavily impact the planet as well as billions of animals every year. Producing the leather, fur and wool that comprises much of the “stylish” apparel we ogle contributes to land and water pollution and global warming, not to mention unspeakable cruelty to animals.
Leather production, for example, involves the use of dangerous substances, such as mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and cyanide-based finishes, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Leather treatment produces wastes containing chromium, which are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The waste from tanneries also includes large quantities of other pollutants, including protein, hair, salt, lime sludge, sulfides, and acids. A chrome-tanning facility wastes nearly 15,000 gallons of water and produces up to 2,200 pounds of “solid waste” (e.g., hair, flesh, and trimmings) for every ton of hides that it processes.
To create leather, animals, some of whom are slaughtered as babies, spend their entire lives in cages, or are skinned or boiled alive for their hides.
Fur production is no better. The majority of fur is factory-farmed, according to the International Fur Trade Federation. In these farms, animals are also skinned, often while still alive, and their waste wreaks havoc on rivers, streams and the air.
Whether or not you are a vegan —a person who avoids using animal products for food, clothing or any other purpose — you probably still want stylish shoe and clothing options that don’t harm animals or the environment.
And now, vegan fashion looks better than ever before. There is a growing variety of cruelty-free and eco-friendly fashion businesses to choose from online, offering clothing, shoes, handbags and other accessories to match just about any budget.
One standout, though, is the compassionate and eco-friendly Vshoen Boutique, (pronounced “v-shun”), which offers vegan shoes, belts, t-shirts and socks, and features the elegant work of designers that have graced many top fashion magazines, including Vogue. Many celebrities are fans of the brands. Beyond Skin, Vshoen’s UK line, was put on the map because Natalie Portman fell in love with the shoes. Vshoen has a shoe for nearly any occasion: styles range from sensible work boots to sexy sandals. Other designers include Vegetarian Shoes, Novacas, and Colourful Grass.
The company’s designers use alternative, sustainable and renewable plant-based and man-made, non-animal materials such as ultra-suede, organic cotton, canvas, nylon, velvet, linen, cork, and a synthetic eco-lining. Vshoen is 100% vegan, using no leather, fur, wool, or silk, or any other animal products in materials such as soles and glue (both are rubber-based) or paint (which is also non-toxic). Nothing is tested on animals. In addition, shipments are condensed into as few packages as possible to reduce Vshoen’s carbon footprint.
The creators of Vshoen, the first 100% vegan-only shoe boutique on Vancouver Island, B.C., were inspired by their love of animals and strong feelings about the cruelty they suffer at the hands of the leather, fur, and farming industries.
Vshoen’s mission is to partner with manufacturers and retailers with high standards of quality, reliability and accountability and who share its vision of a socially and ethically conscious planet. The company’s shoes are produced in Italy, Spain, India, Portugal, Central America, and Brazil. However, products are manufactured as local as possible.
Another reason to support Vshoen is their passionate commitment to their causes. The company believes it is vital to give back and to support organizations doing investigative and educational work to increase public awareness on animal rights and the environment through campaign programs, legislation, and activism.