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The shoe to grow into, not grow out of.

By Gillian Phair

It is quite rare you find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works well to solve a sustainability problem. However in the case of The Shoe that Grows, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is changing the lives of those in absolute poverty.

Because International, a charity from Idaho, produces shoes in two sizes (small and large) which ‘grow’ with the help of snap fasteners. These enable the shoes to last over a child’s entire education. Each pair of shoes can grow 5 sizes and last 5 years.


This is not just a matter of comfort and sustainability– 2 billion children around the world contract soil transmitted diseases by walking barefoot. Many children in poverty wear plastic bottles, parts of car tires and badly fitted shoes on their feet, all of which can damage their health.

Often, provision of clothing aid can cause more problems than it solves – for example in bringing about a decline in local clothing industries. Children in poverty need durable shoes that are fitted for them, rather than occasional donations of worn-out shoes that aren’t made to fit or made to last.

By the end of 2015, the charity successfully sent out 30,000 pairs of the shoes to 25 countries around the world, including Ecuador, Haiti, Ghana and India.

2016 represents an important year for Because International, as they hope to manufacture these shoes locally within the target areas. In fact, initial plans are already underway in East Africa. This is an essential positive feedback system – providing people with jobs, skills and income to be circulated in the local economy.

In recognizing these needs, the founder of Because International, Kenton Lee, has created a gift of practical compassion. This is a growing project and with hope, they can continue to make for more healthy heels around the world.

Source: One-size-fits-all shoes for children in poverty by Gillian Phair for the Futures Centre.

Dit bericht heeft 2 reacties
  1. Nicely written article Gillian, it succinctly raises awareness of a very good idea that has gone well past the level of results most charities achieve.

    You’ve highlighted one of the most important points about this work – that a positive feedback system created by local manufacturing is essential. It’s easy for people to stop at feeling good that children are being helped, and not look beyond – to what happens at so many levels to local communities that find themselves having to accept donations.

    Thank you for mentioning our profile at Zayah World of Kenton Lee and his work. As you’re aware, we have a keen interest in Sustainable Design, and would be happy to help you and your colleagues with future articles.

    Keep up the great work, and best of luck in your search for innovation in sustainability.

    1. Thank you very much for your thoughtful response.

      I wholeheartedly agree with your ideas here. For me, fostering long-term resilience and independence at the local level is an essential element of charity which is often neglected. What inspires me so much about this story, is the ability of these shoes to embody such a progression.

      Collaboration sounds like a great idea, I’ll be in contact through your website’s contact email!

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