Trying not to be part of the problem.

How to Own Only One Pair of Shoes (and Get Away With It)

Seizing the means of counter-production.

We're all familiar with the concept of the 'false economy'.  Choosing a cheap option when more expensive ones are available may only save you money in the short term, since cheaper items tend to be less durable, and therefore need repairing and replacing more frequently.  Of course, it's also important to be aware that under consumer capitalism, even despite the equally well-known phenomenon of 'built in obsolescence', this isn't always true.  Many things are more expensive simply due to 'branding', which is almost entirely a matter of perception and manipulation.  A 'designer' item of clothing could very well have been made in the same factory, by the same workers who made clothes for the likes of Primark or Tesco.  While this does not necessarily prove that the items sold by different retailers are identical, it is highly unlikely that the enormous price discrepancies between them could be accounted for by the differences in actual quality.

Here is a plain, white cotton Armani shirt on sale for £101.50 (reduced at time of writing from the original price of £145).  The last smart white shirt I bought was from Primark and cost me £5.00.  Is the Armani shirt 20.3 times better than the Primark shirt?  Will it last that much longer?  When it was reduced in price by £43.50 did it also fall in relative quality from 29 times to 20.3 times more durable than the Primark shirt?  Of course not.  I don't even know how such a thing could be possible.  A white shirt is a white shirt.  You wear it on your body.  If you're convinced that a designer label shirt could possibly be that much more valuable, in any practical sense, than a generic one, that is because you're an idiot.  And you are an idiot because Armani and the like spend a lot of money turning you into one (or assuming you already are).  Which they consider a worthwhile investment, since they get that money back when you buy their shirts (which makes them idiots too.  Conclusion: We are all idiots).  

Playing games like this is a healthy occupation: a quick exercise in rationality that can immediately cut through the fog of misperceptions created by the advertisers and marketers of this world.  All this is just by way of context provision for the point of this post, which is how I only own one pair of shoes, and that's enough, and you might want to consider trying something along those lines.

The shoes I own are slip-on, plain black shoes I bought for £9.99 at "Shoe Zone" in Bury earlier this year.  They are not designer shoes, of this we can be certain.  They may, however, be leather, which (yes, yes) as a vegan, I should not really be wearing (or paying for, more's the point) but we'll talk about that some other time.  They are comfortable and appropriate in all situations.  These shoes are made for walking.  Also for wearing.  All I want in a pair of shoes, to be perfectly honest.  But then there's the fact that I'm popping over to Canada for the weekend to attend a wedding of a great and true friend, and that for weddings it's normal to wear clean, shiny and decent looking shoes.  I've had these shoes for a while now, and they've taken something of a battering, but they're still functional and that's the only thing that matters.  Unless, perhaps, you're wearing a suit and being at a wedding and pretending you're some kind of adult.  So I thought I'd try faking it.  Apparently, after faking it for a given length of time, one makes it.  This seems like a path worth following.

First, I got myself some 'leather glue'.  I applied this to the problematic parts of my shoes.  After letting it set for 24 hours, I was left with an ugly, yellow residue.  Not ideal, but waterproof.  Hopefully.

By this time, the dried glue began to peel off in the more visible areas, to my delight, leaving the areas that I had actually wanted to glue (namely, where sole meets shoe, and had come unstuck) attached.  I added another few dabs, more carefully this time, and left overnight to set.

The next day, which was only yesterday, I put them to the test, and the shoes performed splendidly.  It was raining heavily, but my feet stayed dry.  They looked a bit weird, yellow with dried glue as if recently seeping puss (imagine that - septic shoes) but so what?  They're shoes.  This is what to focus on.  Unless you're soon to be attending a wedding.

Next I discovered that there's such a thing as "shoe paint".  I clicked a few buttons on the internet and parted with £7.75.  The shoe paint arrived almost instantly.  Thanks ebay.  I applied some to the glued areas of the shoes, and behold:


All they really need now is a quick once over with a shoe brush (perhaps a little polish, if I can nab some) and they're good as new as far as I'm concerned.  I can wear them with my freshly pressed suit at Ross' wedding, and that will be that.

If you've prepared to take some very small steps like this, then you've got shoes that you can wear at a wedding.  If they're shoes you've been wearing every day anyway for months, you've got shoes you can wear any time, and anywhere.

You might ask, given the cost of the shoe paint and the glue (£10.25 altogether) why not just buy a new pair of shoes, identical ones even, for another £9.99, saving yourself 26p?  That's really the whole point here.  That's how "the economy" works.  It's stupid and it's wasteful, and we all know it.  A year down the line, probably less, you'll need another pair, and then another.  Fight the power.  Do not multiply shoes without necessity.  It's a small gesture, I know, but it counts for a lot.

More important still, this used to be a completely normal thing to do.  It isn't anymore, and that's all of our faults.

Your fault.


If you enjoyed this post, please like, +1, share, subscribe and all that sort of thing.  I welcome comments and discussion.  If you're truly ready to take the next step on your personal journey towards fulfillment, you might want to follow me on FacebookTwitterTumblr or Google+.  Posts from this blog also appear in all of those places, alongside other stuff that will fascinate and delight you.

Other recent zero waste/minimalism posts include:

What is a meal? (And other difficult questions)
Taking the Zero Waste Plunge
My First 'Zero Waste' Weekend
Individually packaged sugar portions are stupid, and so are you, and so am I, and so is everything else in the world