Warm weather means warm-weather gear. Im
currently fielding questions about and eyeing the least toxic/most natural
alternatives for everything from beach toys to charcoal to bug sprays to
weatherproof outdoor furniture. One thing Im currently having some trouble
finding the right alternative for is shoes, specifically shoes that can go from
sidewalk into playground sprinkler to beach and back to sidewalk. I want them
to hold up in water and I dont want them to degrade when sun/sea/sand
particles start to beat them up so that theyll be leaching whatever material
or dyes theyre made of onto (blistered, sometimes scraped) little baby toes.
Theres one big contender in this category and its one most parents seem to choose. When the weather heats up, all little feet seem to be sporting Crocs. But what are these colorful cushy things made of? Good question. The company didnt email me back with an answer when I inquired. Which is never a good sign. Maybe my credentials arent fancy enough to write back to? Maybe theyre made from something theyd rather not share?
In the absence of direct response, I resorted to research. Their site says: Think Crocs are made of rubber? Your friend is adamant they're plastic? You're both wrong. Crocs are made of PCCR, a closed-cell material that virtually eliminates odour. No one will clear a room with smelly feet if they are wearing a pair of Crocs. The material also discourages sweating, making Crocs even more comfortable. A quick Google reveals nothing, as PCCR is some sort of proprietary blend Crocs makes, likely a petroleum-derived foam. (Read Treehuggers take, or Debra Lynn Dadds.
Croc knockoffs like the ones made by iPlay are made of EVA plastic, which is a lot better than the PVC/vinyl most jelly shoes are constructed from. I wasnt able to find any sort of study that said anything about plastics leaching via scraped bitty toes into bitty bodies.
And what if you want to avoid plastic altogether? Good luck. Its beyond difficult to find shoes that dont contain some plastic and can withstand playground sprinkler water as well as salty spray. If youre not anti-leather, one way to avoid a little plastic is to look into Saltwater Sandals. The uppers are leather, the soles are made of urethane and theyve been around for many many years. Theyre also if this matters to you a lot more attractive than ubiquitous Crocs. Many moms I know wore them as children and they remind me of the Stride Rite sandals I wore summer after summer as a kid really cute.
Some shoes market themselves as better for the environment. Surf over to
PlanetShoes.com. (One giant caveat: as always, read carefully to see what the
shoes are actually made of. There are PVC waterproofs on this site.) They carry
some options made (partially) from recycled plastic from the brand Mion. Maybe
hipster Brazilian brand Melissa (yes theyre PVC and injected with something to
make them smell better, but theyre also recycled) will make kiddie shoes
soon? Even better, email the people at eco-friendly
brand Simple Shoes and tell them to make some kids water shoes!
If anyone else has found good summer sandal alternatives, please let me know.
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