Unintentionally Sustainable

Unintentionally Sustainable

I always laugh to myself a little when I think about the contrast between what going green means and entails in developed countries vs developing countries. In developed countries it's often a very conscious choice but in Zimbabwe, where I'm from, for example most people's means of survival and the need to be as resourceful as possible unintentionally leads to "sustainable living".

I used to get really frustrated with the pressure I felt to make Rated 18 Shoes sustainable, as if taking on the mission of trying to stop child marriage which affects 12 million girls every year wasn't enough, the products had to be sustainable too - I can't be everything to everyone! But when I decided to introduce a new product that allowed us to use only locally sourced materials (admittedly this was driven by budget constraints since I bootstrap and not some altruistic desire to be sustainable) I realized that we had landed right in the green category, quite by accident, because we had to use the same shoe making techniques and resources that the guy at the corner of the street with no factory to work in uses.

Using sustainable materials and renewable energy came about from the need to be resourceful - Zimbabwe has a robust agriculture sector so the cotton fabric and leather we use is readily available; people who have to find a way to make a living collect used tires so it's easy to upcycle them for our soles; and our workshop is solar powered because power cuts are a regular thing in Zimbabwe - so we wound up being the zero emission, eco friendly handmade shoes company you see today, not by design or because that's the order of the day in the fashion industry, but because we had to.

So again, I laugh to myself a little when I see the lengths that so many other brands are now going to to become sustainable while in other places it's a way of life we just had to adopt - so hello we are Rated 18 Shoes and we are a sustainable brand, because we have to be.
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