I have a confession. Like many, I come from a trade that has caused you untold damage. It’s not news, of course. Industrialized humans love ‘progress’ & ‘innovation’ - and we have gone steaming past the natural balance of things without a second glance.
The warnings are loud and clear: our relationship with you is in tatters. But, ‘Save the Planet’ has been all wrong. You will find your balance again. We must save ‘our’ place among your ecosystems. That’s what we forget.
Seven generations of shoemakers have walked before me. My forefathers were Quakers: trail blazers at the intersection between business and social justice. Yet the footprints of their success, particularly in the last 50 years, were toxic: heavy metals used in leather tanning, strong glues and solvents, and the multitude of synthetic soles accumulating in the soil around us.
The cushioning that’s added to shoes reflects our detachment. Uprooted from a nature-connection, cocooned with stuff we don’t need, we’ve forgotten how to feel. We’ve lost touch with you, dear Earth. This is a difficult legacy to be a part of. And like many others, I worry. I fear for my kids. Their futures are full of challenges, many of which we struggle to imagine.
But we can also sprint towards a new reality, where mother nature is our guide and resources are shared with an open heart. Humans have been making footwear for tens of thousands of years – naturally and harmoniously. Our kind has always connected to you most intimately through our feet. It’s time for the industry I’m part of to reclaim that wisdom.
Please accept this apology for the damage we have done to you, I hope that by sharing my anxieties about what our future holds, I can add my voice to the movement. Inspiring others to share our ecological grief, then demanding transformation.
Earth, we exist because of you. I look at you, and I long for a joyful revolution afoot, across all your biomes. I want my kids to feel inspired and rebellious. I hope they never accept the thinking that got us into this crisis. One day they may read these words, along with other letters from people in my industry and generation. My greatest wish is that they do so amidst landscapes that have been given the time and space to regenerate. A world where you, and humans, are able to flourish.