Ethical Advent Day 9: Veja

We all know someone who’s a total sneaker head, always getting the newest pair whenever the next holiday rolls around. This Christmas why not steer them away from shoes made in poor working conditions, and introduce them to the world of ethical footwear with a gift from French company Veja.

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Veja shoes are made with materials such as organic cotton, wild Amazonian rubber, recycled plastic and acacia-tanned leather (a natural alternative that, unlike modern tanning processes, avoids serious water pollution). And of course they have an entire vegan range.

Veja also actively promotes eco-farming, campaigns against deforestation, supports worker rights and creates employment for poor communities. They work with co-operatives, paying their cotton growers and rubber tappers 30-100% above the world market price. Products are manufactured ethically in South Brazil in good conditions, with employment rights and a fair pay rate for overtime. When their products arrive in France they are stored and dispatched by Ateliers Sans Frontières, a French charity that helps disadvantaged individuals reintegrate into society through work. Product packaging is made of recycled and recyclable materials, and the company powers its headquarters with renewable energy supplied by Enercoop. Pretty incredible right?

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The way that Veja manages to do all of this is through a unique business model. They refuse to spend any money on advertising, relying solely on word of mouth instead. By cutting costs in advertising they don’t have to cut corners in the manufacturing model, and are able to pay workers fairly. Additionally they refuse to build up stock, only producing on orders dated for the next six months to ensure stock doesn’t accumulate and result in waste.

As well as all of their ethical credentials, Veja’s shoes are gorgeous. They haven’t scrimped on design in order to be ethical, instead seamlessly combining beautiful design with their unique business structure. In my opinion their shoes are a lot nicer than most commercial brands, being better constructed with better materials under better conditions. This holiday season, why not convert your sneaker loving friends to be Veja loving too? They still get to look as cool as ever, but with added ethical credentials to boot.

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Until next time, stay magic y’all.

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