The Search for Shoes
It is rare that I struggle to find products that are non-toxic. Usually, if I do a little research, I’m able to find almost any product in a non-toxic version. But sadly, non-toxic children’s shoes are one of very few items that I have labeled as “almost impossible to find.” I spent 4-5 hours last summer searching for non-toxic summer shoes for my children. I remember feeling so frustrated. Well, I had the same struggle again just a few days ago.
Spring comes early here in Northern California. My kids are already in shorts and t-shirts and needing something besides our winter mainstay of rain boots for footwear. What bothers me about summer footwear is that there are no socks. In the winter, we always have socks on with our shoes. But summer time, our bare soles are in constant contact with our shoes. We sweat more, or we get them wet in the pool. Overall, we have way more direct skin contact with our shoes than in the winter. Because of this, I want to make sure that my children’s shoes aren’t leaking toxins into their bodies all summer long.
Toxins in Shoes
Many children’s shoes that have been tested are highly toxic. If you Google “toxins in children’s shoes” you’re bound to come up with some interesting reads. Here’s a good one. Many children’s shoes have cancer causing chemicals, allergens, and other toxins. I’m not going to go into a ton of details, but the majority of shoes are toxic, as you’ll see in a minute from my search for a non-toxic shoe.
I don’t mind spending extra money on shoes, because I usually only buy each child 2 pairs. One for playing on the farm and one for going out in public for running errands, church, etc. I much prefer quality over quantity. So if I can only afford to buy them 2 really good quality and non-toxic shoes, that is much better than tons of pairs of toxic shoes in my mind. I sat down a few days ago and began my online search for non-toxic shoes.
My General Findings
1 | Slim pickings. I searched and searched and searched. Some companies do some eco-friendly practices, but to find truly non-toxic shoes was almost impossible.
2 | There were significantly more companies offering truly non-toxic baby shoes than toddler and children size shoes.
3 | The very few companies that I found were actually in process of closing down or had closed down. Also, the shoes were very “earthy.” They weren’t normal styles that you’d find at other places. I really wanted to find my children some shoes that were just normal looking but were also safe.
What I Bought
Here’s what I ended up purchasing. For “farm shoes” I got them both Keen’s. This one and this one. Keen isn’t my favorite style, but I figured they’d both be wearing them out on the farm so it wasn’t a huge deal if I was in love with them. I liked that they could be water shoes as well. I am not convinced that they are completely safe for my child, but they were the best I could find for play shoes. The company does have some eco-friendly and non-toxic practices. Last year, I got Crocs instead. Again, I do not for a minute believe they are non-toxic, but I did find some very good research on the company about how they do purposely steer clear of some of the most toxic chemicals usually found in children’s shoes.
For nicer shoes, I got these from Livie and Luca for my son. I’ve bought several pairs of Livie and Luca in the past. They are very high quality shoes and hold up amazing. They aren’t as fully non-toxic as I’d prefer, but it was the best I could do. They use lead-free leather, non-toxic (I’m not sure what that exactly entails) glue, and no harmful chemicals in the tanning process. They are also a company that incorporates sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
For my daughter, I got these. Yikes. Did you see that price!? $85 for a pair of sandals for my 5 year old. Goodness. But this company is AMAZING. They are actually the only ones I found that I felt 100% sure about. The shoes are truly non-toxic and sustainably made. I really love the Little Spruce Organics website and many of the brands they carry are some of my very favorite and most trusted.
What makes me sad is how hard it can be to keep my family and myself safe. 95% of the time I can find budget friendly, non-toxic, and eco-friendly alternatives to things in our home. But shoes, I must admit, are one of the few places that I don’t think budget friendly alternatives exist yet. Hopefully, one day soon, there will be more companies I can trust for children’s footwear, but for now, it’s just a place I will budget extra money each year in order to keep my children safe as I can.
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