Monday, May 19, 2008

Simply Simple

Let me start out by saying that I am not one of those people who believe that we can buy our way out of the global warming, biodiversity declining mess that we now find ourselves in. I believe that the "green consumer" truly is an oxymoron. We need to buy less, repair what we have, do without. There are times, though, that a girl can't do without. When she has tried to repair and failed. She has looked for used to no avail. In those instances, the green companies springing up all around us can offer a more sustainable solution.

Every spring, as the sun warms the earth, the seeds sprout stretching away from the soil and the thermometer flirts with the 90 degree mark, I invest (and I use that term loosely) in a couple pairs of sandals (I also use that term loosely because they are really flip flops, something to slip on as I race out the door in a perpetual state of lateness). In the past, I would pick up my sandals from Old Navy or maybe Target. Dropping a ten note per pair seemed like a good deal to me. Invariably, as autumn rustled in with brown leaves and cloudy nights, my "investment" would be tattered, the shiny beads long lost, the soles worn to nothing, the straps breaking. I have yet to have a pair last me for more than one season.

This spring, the sun warmed the earth, the seeds sprouted, and the thermometer hit 90. I had tried, in vain, to repair the one pair of flip flops I had left. The sole had separated, the fabric torn. I finally admitted defeat and, for weeks, scoured the local thrift stores. I came up with a pair of leather sandals but nothing truly comfortable or casual. I had hit a milestone. I had no choice but to buy my first new article of clothing in approximately a year.

Looking online, I came across Simple Shoes. As a true cynic, I immediately suspected green washing when I read their Shoes for a Happy Planet tag line. A number of their shoes, however, are made with materials like recycled tires, water based glue and hemp. The website boasted that shoes would be shipped in a biodegradable bag and that the company would donate $5 to for the flip flops I was considering. Still, I'm out of practice in buying. I have completely lost that desire. So I waited and made do without flip flops. Finally, a heat wave rolled over California. I took the plunge and ordered my Stop Global Warming Toepeekas for a whopping $65. That's about six times the amount I normally spend but I'm hoping these will last quite a bit longer.

A week later, they arrived at my doorstep. I opened the box tentatively, remembering that I forgot to include a note with my purchase for no plastic packaging. I had relied on the company's representations about itself and its green goals.

What the heck? A giant gob of plastic greeted my eyes.

Closer inspection revealed, however, that it was biodegradable, corn starch polymer. The bag promised "dig it . . . bury it . . . buh bye". Hmm. A label indicated that the company believes such bags are better for the environment than boxes. While I'm not corn's biggest fan, it certainly is smaller than a box and, assuming it biodegrades in a reasonable amount of time, a pretty good way to go.

Overall, the entire contents of the box were as minimal as I've ever seen for a pair of shoes and downright sustainable. No plastic. Everything biodegradable. I guess I could have lived without the SIMPLE hanger - printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper with soy ink and made to double as a Do Not Disturb door hanger. After my experience of death by plastic from LUSH or my battles with Amazon's over sized boxes and over-plastic wrapped products, I am delighted to report that Simple Shoes appears to be exactly what it purports to be: "a nice little shoe company".

Gotta run out the door now in my uber-comfortable, high quality, recycled tire Stop Global Warming flip flops - the first pair of flip flops I've owned that will last me for seasons to come.

*I have no connection with this company, have never corresponded with it and get absolutely nothing for sharing my experiences with its shoes. I am just happy to find something that would make Beth at Fake Plastic Fish happy and abide by my no-plastic pledge in Crunchy Chicken's Extreme Eco ThrowDown.


Joyce said...

I actually have a pair of Simples that I bought, would you believe, 14 years ago. They are sort of like hiking boots and I really just wear them in very cold weather, but hey, they've lasted and they aren't even really out of style-at least in my eyes, though my stylin' daughter might disagree.

badhuman said...

I used to buy cheap flip flops but got tired of replacing them so I upped the anty to the $20 ones from American Eagle and they have survived everything including a year in the desert without breaking or wearing through.

In my current job I wear boots that are part of a uniform but now I'm about to start a new job that requires semi nice shoes and I started by looking on Ebay for used but there are so many selling new shoes that I got frustrated. I saw Simples for sale there and I was going to check them out. Nice to know that other people have given them a shot as well.

Melinda said...

Wow, I must say they did catch my eye! I've been wearing shoes from for years, and love their company. Not as ecoconscious overall, but I am a vegetarian and haven't worn leather for so long I needed a good shoe (& bag & belt) source.

My flipflops from last year are ok so far, but with all this city walking, I don't think they'll last all summer... and I now have my eye on those Stop Global Warming Toepeekas - so cool.

Green Bean said...

Joyce: Glad to know that these flip flops will last me even longer than a few seasons. If your boots are anything to judge by, I may be wearing these babies for the next decade!

Badhuman: I'd had that experience with Ebay (and Amazon "used") too. It is so frustrating. Really, the Simple shoes seem wonderful. This is the slightest amount of packaging I think I've ever seen and the company truly seems committed to sustainability.

Melinda: Did I mention they also make sneakers, Mary Janes and a bunch of other styles? Oh, also bags. I'm not about to run out and buy all that but I am so impressed by their packaging that the next time I need to buy shoes new, I'll definitely check with them first.

CindyW said...

Wait a second. I see the box, the bag, and the tag. I want to see the shoes! Where are the shoes? How do they feel? Curious mind wants to know :)

I have had my Tevas flip flops for 6 years. They are a bit on the unseemly side. But they are so comfy right now in their worn out state.

CindyW said...

Sorry. The top picture is the shoe :) For some reason, I thought it was just a placeholder.

Green Bean said...

Doh! The top photo is the shoes I have. I'm not about to post something with my feet in it! They are really cute, Cindy. I promise.

The bottom is recycled tire and when I say recycled tire - I mean, you can literally see the tire treads. They should call it reused tires because recycled conjured up images of melting the tires down and making something new with them.

As to comfort, most comfortable flip flops I've ever worn (though, admittedly, I've always gone for the cheaper ones). They have great arch support and the insole is soft (hemp, I believe). I wore them on a walk downtown tonight and nary a blister.

organicneedle said...

Very cute. Ya know...I never even thought about how ridiculous it is that we have to replace summer shoes every year. I have just kind of come to accept it as part of the spring ritual to schlep out and forage for the new crop.

spelled with a K said...

being of similar predilections I've also shopped mooshoes, but I must say that the 3 year old pair of teva sandals and 2 year old pair of teva flip flops are still alive and kicking. I am not one to be gentle on shoes (or my feet when barefoot) but they seemed to be fairing well. And I have no allegiance or connection to the folks at teva

michelle said...

I wear Birkenstocks (they make non-leather styles, too). They're extremely comfy and sturdy, and both the footbed and outsole can be replaced when they wear down, which means that in theory, they never have to be replaced. I just make sure to use sealant to protect the cork.

What's so bad about buying new shoes, even on Ebay? I should think that especially for sandals, you'd want to buy new ones for the sake of hygiene. I bought my Birkenstocks new on Ebay for $39 - they came in the shoe box shipped inside a slightly larger box - no plastic involved.

eco 'burban mom said...

Those are cute! I also have the hemp eco-sneaks from Simple and the tire treads on the bottom are hilarious. But, I will confess, one of the reasons I bought them are the cute, cute lavender laces! I am a sucker for cute! Though, I need flip flops and those are calling my name... Can you still be green and have a shoe fetish?!?

BTW - speaking of lavender, love the new blog header!!! By chance, is the background a pic of your garden?

Green Bean said...

Eco-Burb: Ohh, I saw those hemp ecosneaks. Cute!

I don't know about having a "shoe fetish" but I absolutely think that you can be green and be cute. I loathe the idea that we all have to suffer and dress in drab colors and, yes, the pants that come up to our elbows. That doesn't strike me as a viable way of "growing the green movement."

I don't need 30 pairs of shoes but the 5 pair I have need to cute and durable. Fortunately, I can meet those needs through used and the occasional Simple pair. My sister just handed down a pair of Sketchers Mary Janes to me last weekend. She'd worn them a few of times but for some reason or other really didn't like them. I love them! I felt super hip wearing them when I biked my son to school on my super cute red bike.

If you need flip flops, honestly, I think the Simple ones are a great way to go. Did I mention how comfortable AND cute they are? You can't beat the packaging and they strike me as a company that is making real inroads in sustainability.

Oh, and yes, that is my front yard garden. It was supposed to grow in the shape of a butterfly. That didn't exactly work out but the bees love it.

eco 'burban mom said...

Oh well.... ixnay on the show fetish then! :o) I haven't been truly able to indulge in lot of shoes since I had kids anyway and I really haven't missed it. Heels aren't great at a baseball field and pointy toe boots aren't suitable for snowman building and delicate flip flops aren't for running in the sand! Now I am really trying to focus on buying smarter, more well made and yes, cute shoes. Simple does make it easier to get all of that along with a better shoe for the environment - with lavendar laces of course!

Though, I was still a little bugged by the made in china thing with Simple, but find me a shoe made in the US that a) I can afford and b) goes with my purse and then we'll talk...

I love the garden!!

Kellie & Marc said...

These comments are I LOVE these! But I might just cry if I spent $65 on a pair of flip flops. And my husband might just divorce me. Hmpfh!

Amy said...

I have such a hard time buying shoes off of the internet because I'm always worried they aren't going to fit well, if at all. Actually, I feel that way about most wearables.

I find it a little amusing, and very cool, that a number of bloggers have been tackling the aspects of consumerism and being "green". I just did one myself last night and discovered your blog today, and there's one by you! The thought-trends that pass through those with their fingers on the ecological pulse often seem to sync up.

Well, I just discovered your blog today and I'm already enjoying reading you. See you around!

Chile said...

A problem we've had with recycled tire shoes is marking on tile floors, especially from the edges of the shoes. Does these flipflops leave any black marks?

Green Bean said...

Not at all, Chile, but we have wood floors and carpets. They tires have the actual treads on them but look like they've been cleaned and buffed.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Fake Plastic Fish might approve of the packaging, but sadly, like Amy, she cannot buy shoes online without trying them on first because she has very weird feet and shoe shopping is a traumatic experience. Nevertheless, she completed a marathon with these very feet, in boxy New Balance clodhoppers, which were the 5th pair of running shoes she went through before finding the right pair.

When Fake Plastic Fish (who is not sure why she's writing in the 3rd person) needs a new pair of running shoes, that will be a whole new plastic situation to consider, as she probably won't be able to find plastic-free shoes that will actually fit her deformed feet.


Beany said...

Hmm...I'm looking for flip flops for my husband and remembered this post. Looks like the price has dropped, by almost half!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...