Do we need more shoes?

By Wendy Riches (edited by Rod MacDonald)

This post stems from a moral dilemma I faced as I excitedly entered the Army & Navy department store for their legendary annual shoe sale.

I love shoes just as much as the next woman – I hit this sale religiously every year in search of the perfect discounted pair. But the chaos overwhelmed me this year, as copious amounts of shoes were being left in a heap on the floor, the cashier line-up grew to more than 25 deep, and I noticed women struggling to carry heavy baskets containing more than 15 pairs of shoes!

All of a sudden the dichotomy of this really hit me: 20 steps away, just outside the door, in the poorest part of Vancouver, were people who likely only have one pair of shoes, if they’re lucky. One guy said “nice shoes” to me as I was leaving (I only bought one pair), and the guilt started flooding in!

Mass media feeds us “must buy” messages prompting us to elbow our way through a store to get the latest colour shoe 50% off. And in the same breath, we are constantly reminded to save energy, promote sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint (pun unintended).

How is one to reconcile these vastly dichotomous values? Who says we can’t have more shoes?

Al Gore tells us to change our light bulbs because the polar ice caps are melting, all the while flying around the world to speaking engagements and spreading jet fuel exhaust — one of the worst environmental offenders – into the stratosphere.

I’m confused. I only bought one pair of shoes. They’re really cute. I hope that’s OK?