“How long have you had those?” My doctor raised an eyebrow as he looked askance at the Birkenstocks I’d worn that day.
“These are practically new,” I said, lifting a foot so he could see my Birks clearly. Since leaving the corporate world, I’ve seldom worn other kinds of shoes. I can stand in Birks and walk on them comfortably all day long. Birks have great arch supports and give my feet room to breath. Other than looking a little shop worn, they never really wear out. Or so it seemed to me.
“How long?” He probed more firmly. He had diagnosed the foot problem that brought me in that day as a painful condition called a dropped metatarsal.
“Two years. Maybe a little longer.” I began to hedge.
“That’s too old. The toe ridge and the footbed are too hard for your toe. You need something with more cushion.”
“But I’ve worn Birks for years and never had a problem,” I protested. I elected not to tell him about the pair of Birks I’ve been wearing around the house and garden for more than a decade.
Since seeing the doctor, I’ve done more research into my foot problem and am pleased to find that Birkenstocks are among the shoes recommended to help with metatarsal problems. Whew! At least I don’t have to give up my favorite shoes entirely.
I do, however, acknowledge that my decades-old Birks have to go. So, what to do with them? Resigning what appear to be perfectly good shoes to the landfill seems wrong.
An Internet search led me to Soles4Souls, a group that recycles shoes of all types, as well as other used clothing, to people in need, worldwide. Even 10-year-old Birks are better than what many people live with daily.
There’s far more to Soles4Souls than I could cover here, but this anti-poverty organization does more than just collect and give away clothes. They also create self-sustaining jobs through micro-enterprises in communities like Haiti. An added bonus – there are two drop-off locations in my area. So this week, my beloved Birks will begin their journey to new owners. And I am on a journey to find replacements.
Helping combat poverty. Keeping things out of the landfill. It’s a win-win. If you have shoes you no longer find useful, they may still mean a lot to someone else. I urge you to check out Soles4Souls. If you’ve found other good organizations that take shoes, comment here. I’ll pass the news along.