We all have those shoes–you know, the ones we adore and can’t part with? It’s hard for me to throw out shoes when only the soles are worn. It seems so wasteful.
So if you donate shoes with a worn out sole, what do you think will happen to them? If you don’t think you can wear them, it’s likely others won’t either. Because a shoe with a missing sole isn’t a shoe at all. And if you didn’t have the gumption to get the sole fixed, do you think someone else will? It’s unlikely, which means your beloved shoes will end up in a landfill.
So what can we do to avoid this debacle?
Buy shoes that can be resoled. The best thing to do is buy shoes or boots that will stand the test of time. The highest quality shoes are the ones that are made so you can resole them. Even if you buy a high-end pair of shoes, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were made to last. Truth is, regardless of the price point, most shoes are made to be thrown away after 4-6 months of wear. I’m not trying to rain on your shoe parade, it’s just the reality of how the industrialized fashion economy works. So the best thing you can do is be deligent and ask if the shoes you’re buying can be resoled.
Buy fewer but timeless classics. Buying anything that has more than a shelf life of one year–let alone one outfit–is going to help. There are shoes that will never go out style. Classic ballet flats in basic tones like black, brown, or nude will never fail you. Riding boots with clean lines are timeless. Buy shoes that you know will work for more than one outfit and possibly for the next 20 years.
Make an appointment with a reputable shoe cobbler every 6-12 months. When your shoe wears through, make the effort to take them to a local shoe cobbler with a good reputation. It’ll cost you about $30 for a pair of boots. It can also take 2-4 weeks to get them done so think ahead and get your shoes on a rotation. If you’re in Seattle, Swanson’s Shoe Repair in Wallingford is great. They’ve resoled a pair of boots for me, and the new soles are higher quality than the soles that the shoes came with. Or if you’re really brave, try doing it yourself.
So instead of throwing your favorite shoes in the Goodwill pile or directly into the trash, give them a second life with a new sole.