A pile of shoes in a cardboard box.

The Paradox of Footwear and Apparel in Underdeveloped Countries

What happens when we’re told to “walk a mile in his shoes” but the child has no shoes? In Ghana this is an everyday reality making harmful diseases more prevalent.

Source: Ghana: Walking Without Shoes | Pulitzer Center

In 2015, Olivia Conti completed a series on underdeveloped areas in Ghana and Ghanaians who walked everywhere without shoes. The discussion brought up the issues with soil borne diseases and explained how and why some nations continue to suffer from the lack of a resource, so abundant in the U.S., that people throw out millions of sneakers each year. The irony in the report is just a few months ago Business Insider did an expose on Ghana being used as a dumping ground for fast fashion.

How is it that Conti’s report and Business Insider’s analysis exist in the same span of 7 years? Wouldn’t it seem that all of the footwear and apparel being dumped in Ghana would offer an opportunity for fewer soil borne diseases to affect people living in underdeveloped areas of the country? The problem is an issue with micro and developing economies. Ghana is a country that has yet to implement widespread anti-dumping laws. Since the country hasn’t outlined a solution to the rampant abuse of fast fashion and donation programs, the result is a once beautiful country being overrun by apparel and footwear from popular brands worldwide.

Sneaker Impact can fill the gap between brands and the disposal of footwear. Our responsible chain of distribution allows us to assist brands overwhelmed by the changes in removing excess products. Via our business strategy, including social enterprise, we can place footwear where it is needed the most. It is ridiculous that in a world of abundance, there are children who risk contracting soil borne diseases due to parasites burrowing into their feet in lakes and on walking paths. While donating shoes may seem insignificant, we hope that learning about these issues will make you more thoughtful about consumption habits and the end of life for the products you buy.