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Shoes that make a difference

May 21, 2010

Sometimes it’s easy to think that if you care about the environment and want to make ethical clothing choices, you should really only wear Tom’s shoes and locally-made, naturally-dyed hemp clothing. I am not particularly enamored of hippie style, meaning that I feel forced to choose between fashion and my conscience. And my conscience has been bothering me, because when it comes to shoes, fashion usually wins. I would like to wear only sustainable, ethical footwear, but most of the choices out there are frankly either ugly, too expensive, or both. So I was excited when I found Osborn Design (in the June/July issue of Bust), and recently came across Sseko Designs (in a blog I can’t remember!).

These fair trade shoes are handcrafted in Guatemala, and some are even made with recycled materials, meaning they’re limited edition and each pair is unique. Aside from the feel-good aspect, I think that they’re super-stylish, as well. I would wear the Corte & Denim Oxford or the Corte & Denim Boot in a heartbeat.

On the other side of the world, in Uganda, you can find Sseko Designs. They’ve taken on the amazing mission of paying young women to make shoes in order to earn money for a university education. From their page:

Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country’s educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.

Need a new pair of sandals this summer? I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their offerings, especially since you can tie the straps in multiple configurations and switch out the ties for different colors or patterns. I like the Boca and the Starboard:

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