Did you know that the shoes you have in your closets and hidden in storage bins can make a difference in the life of someone living in poverty in a country, such as Haiti, and also help the environment?
Did you realize that the vast majority of textiles, including shoes and athletic footwear, can be repurposed instead of thrown away in a socially responsible manner?
The Environmental Protection Agency reported a few of the following facts:
- Textiles, including shoes, represent 65.7% of the content in landfills.
- Americans throw away an average of 4.48 pounds of waste, each day.
- The average person does not know that other people around the world can repurpose clothing and shoes.
- In fact, the vast majority of the global population, 70 percent, use shoes and apparel that have been owned by others.
- The primary reason for textiles ending up in landfills is consumers.
What is Life Like in a Nation Such as Haiti?
Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. According to the World Bank, the country:
- The country is the third largest in the Caribbean following the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
- 4 million people live in Haiti.
- 59 percent of the population, or 6 million people, live below the poverty line of $2.41 per day.
- 24 percent, 2.5 million people, live in what is defined as extreme poverty by global standards, with a family making less than $1.23 a day.
- The annual per capita income in Haiti is $480 USD. By comparison in the U.S., it is $33,550.
Why Shoes Can Make a Difference
There are millions of stories, such as the ones we’ve written about concerning Silvia and David, of people who have overcome the difficult circumstances of living in a country such as Haiti, in poverty. The daily struggles of people in developing nations to obtain even the basics (and things we take for granted), such as shoes, can be significant.
We might not think too much about it in the U.S., but shoes are essential for the prevention of disease which can cause extreme illness or even death when parasites enter the bloodstream from open wounds or cuts in the feet of people walking on public roads and paths outdoors. However, shoes are a necessary part of attendance for children going to school or adults going to work in most jobs. Millions of people live in poverty, and the primary mode of transportation is their feet and not a luxury such as a motorbike or a car; therefore, affordable and high-quality shoes are essential.
When people in developed nations, such as the United States and Canada, give their gently worn, used and new shoes to a good cause during a shoe drive fundraiser, the footwear is consolidated and shipped to micro-entrepreneurs in countries like Haiti. Because of the lack of high-quality education and sustainable job opportunities, people have to sell merchandise, including shoes, in their communities to create small businesses, also known as a micro-enterprises.
The shoes collected in a shoe drive fundraiser become inventory for micro-entrepreneurs who are in need of living wages and sell the footwear in their communities. Other times, the shoes that are not sold become insulation, stuffing or padding for furniture or playgrounds. It’s essential to create commerce and not flood the markets in developing nations by giving away shoes and clothing, which would destroy trade and business for people trying to escape poverty, so everything done by social enterprises, such as the Funds2Orgs Group is done with those realities in mind with its shoe drive fundraising programs.
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