Boy do kids’ feet grow quickly! Making sure my daughter has comfortable shoes on at all times - not too small, not too big - can be really tricky.
Changing her shoes so frequently also made me consider the impact this may be having on the environment. And so I did a bit of research on this issue, and the statistics show the issue is not to be taken lightly.
Over 300 million pairs of shoes per year are thrown away in the UK, and most end up in landfills. The alarming fact is that it’s estimated the average pair of shoes takes 100s, even 1000s of years to fully decompose! That’s a really long time to have millions of shoes heaped up in our landfills, with their chemical-based compounds breaking down and seeping into the earth constantly.
The shoe industry has been slowly waking up to these facts. Consumers are starting to call for eco-friendly footwear, and there are strides being made in the right direction, especially in the adult footwear segment. But I think we need to pay special attention to the large market that typically requires new shoes constantly – kids!
How Quickly Do Children's Feet Actually Grow?
Children’s feet grow unpredictably. Your child may have a growth spurt at any time. There’s no way around it. You need to replace all their shoes whenever they’re outgrown or worn.
With the understanding that not every child is the same, you typically can expect to buy shoes this often:
- 12 months to 2.5 years old, every 3 months.
- 2.5 to 4 years of age, every 4 months.
- From ages 4 to 8 years, every 6 months.
- Between ages 8 and 9, kids slow down to outgrowing shoes only every 12 months.
- The 9 to 12 age group will similarly need shoes once a year, twice a year if they play sports.
It is recommended that you check your children's shoes regularly to be sure they are not too small (as you want to be sure you’re aiding in the right development of their little feet).
What Can We Do?
Earth-friendly solutions are beginning to emerge to tackle the problem of shoes ending up in landfill. They range from recycling to the creation of sustainable footwear designs in the first place!
Buy Eco-Friendly Shoes for yourself and your children
It is interesting to see it’s often the smaller shoe manufacturers who are proposing some big ideas. For example, shoes made from non-synthetic, biodegradable materials would mean that they can break down naturally without having a negative impact on the environment, such as releasing harmful chemicals.
We can all make a difference through some simple daily decisions. Why not start with the shoes you buy for your little ones?
To learn more about the materials used in Pip and Henry shoes, click here.
Think twice before throwing out old shoes
Don’t throw your old shoes (or even clothes for that matter!) into normal bins….they will just end up in landfill. Instead:
- Try and clean, repair or re-condition them if they still fit
- Donate them to your friends, family, neighbours or to charity
- Sell them on second-hand stores (eg: Kids O'Clock facilitate the buying and selling of outgrown kidswear online).
Recycle and re-use
In the UK, around 15% (or 26,244 tonnes) of post-consumer shoe waste is collected and redistributed as second-hand. The remaining 85% (or 142,756 tonnes) is just sent to landfill.
There is clearly still lots of opportunity to do more in this space. Handing over your shoes to the local charity shop or selling them on second-hand are some options to think about when trying to dispose your kids shoes.
Or, for the easiest and most effective solution…send your shoes back to Pip and Henry…and let us do the work of getting them re-used or re-purposed for you! Find out more here.
Some of the content for this article was sourced from these websites: