Waste Management Diaries – 5 (Footwear)

In our childhood, the cobblers were kept really busy.  Each of us would have just a couple of slippers/ shoes. If our slipper straps tore or soles came off, we’d need to get them fixed to prolong their use. We’d even get our shoes with worn out soles resoled to delay spending on a new pair.

These days, we find that people have many pairs of footwear and fewer people repair their footwear. They’d rather buy new pairs. This is one reason why the Indian footwear industry is expected to grow at a CAGR by 10-20% by 2020.

Despite being the second largest producer of footwear (after China), there are still many people in India who cannot afford decent footwear. So there is always someone to take the footwear we discard, either to wear as is, or to repair and use. The rest that can no longer be used as footwear, more often than not, land up in rubbish dumps and landfills.

At our society, Whispering Palms Xxclusives, I estimate that we collect over 2000 pairs of footwear a year. Volunteers and housekeeping staff periodically sort the footwear into those wearable and not. All are free to take any they want. We’ve had many housemaids, security guards, housekeeping staff, delivery boys, vendors and even residents pick up footwear, sometimes sparingly used or almost new.

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