Polska pomoc


Change Your Shoes: Starting point of the way to an ethical and sustainable shoe supply chain.

The Buy Shoes Responsibly! campaign for the sustainable and ethical production of shoes is an element of the international undertaking Change Your Shoes: EYD 2015 – Starting Point on the Way to an Ethical and Sustainable Shoe Supply Chain. Its purpose is to strive towards the more sustainable production of shoes, both in the aspect of observing human rights and of environmental protection standards.

In the shoe industry, as opposed to some similar industries (e.g. the garment industry), there is still little information for consumers about the conditions of production. Meanwhile, the industry can have a negative impact on people and the environment.

The first group is made up of violations of human rights (e.g. excessively low wages and the consequences of this in the form of extreme poverty among workers, poor working conditions, including a lack of contracts, continuous overtime work, failure to observe the health and safety rules as well as persecution of activists fighting for workers’ rights).

The second group consists of the use of harmful chemical substances at various stages of the supply chain (e.g. failure to comply with safety standards in leather tanning). Workers are usually not supplied with the proper personal protective equipment (e.g. special apparel) and are therefore exposed to direct contact with toxic substances that cause serious diseases. Sometimes the toxins used are discharged together with sewage into the soil and groundwater, posing a threat to local communities.

The lack of transparency and oversight in the supply chain and may also be hazardous for consumers, who are unsure whether toxic substances used in uncontrolled production processes end up in the shoes on their feet.

The above circumstances are grounds for actions to increase transparency in shoe production, improve the situation of workers and communities in Global South countries and support sustainable production methods. The expediency of conducting consumer campaigns is confirmed by the findings of a 2015 Nielsen survey. It turns out that only 3% of respondents in Poland feel that they are well informed about the working conditions and the environmental standards in related to the production of the shoes that they purchase. In the survey, 86% of respondents declared that they would be inclined to pay more for shoes manufactured in an environmentally friendly way and in good working conditions.

Change Your Shoes: Starting point of the way to an ethical and sustainable shoe supply chain.

The period of implementation of the project is 1 May to 31 December 2016. The actions taken during this time will cover all of Poland. The aim is to improve the living and working conditions of people engaged in the production of shoes in Global South countries by strengthening the awareness of Polish consumers and involving them in a campaign for sustainable production and consumption, which will contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

The following will be the direct effects of the project:

  1. Increasing general availability of information, educational and campaign material in Polish on the subject of the social and environmental problems in the production of shoes in Global South countries.
  2. Improving awareness and knowledge within society, particularly among young people, about the social and environmental problems in the production of shoes in Global South countries and possible solutions to them.
  3. Increasing the personal involvement of Polish consumers, particularly young people, in actions aimed at the responsible consumption and production of shoes.
  4. Support for groups acting as multipliers for educational and information actions concerning responsible production and consumption (teachers, journalists, non-governmental organisations).

The project beneficiaries are teachers, students, journalists and employees of non-governmental organisations. In all, about 500 000 consumers will be reached.

Change Your Shoes: Starting point of the way to an ethical and sustainable shoe supply chain.

The most important outcome of this project was increasing public awareness and knowledge, especially among young people, of social and environmental problems in footwear production in the countries of the global South and of possible solutions. Another important outcome was supporting the potential of multiplier groups (teachers, journalists, NGOs) by facilitating access to educational and information materials on responsible footwear consumption and production.

A report (“Step by step... How do shoe companies ensure human rights?”), brochures (“Made in China: An analysis of the Chinese leather and footwear industry” and “Made in India: The violation of employee rights in the leather and footwear industry in India”), an educational game and a leaflet produced as part of the project were the first materials in Poland dealing with this issue. The materials were widely distributed to schools, NGOs, students, activists, journalists and interested consumers.

Educational campaigns in schools and at public events and a related information campaign in social and conventional media had a significant impact on consumer awareness. Considerable emphasis was placed on increasing the personal engagement of Polish consumers, especially young people, in actions supporting the responsible consumption and production of footwear.

The social media campaign enjoyed great popularity. A large number of people responded to, and commented on, posts, and also shared information. Total coverage exceeded 1 million viewers, with many people expressing interest in future campaigns, thus paving the way for further campaign activities in 2017.

All publications were made available at http://www.ekonsument.pl/buty and were widely promoted by mail as well as social and conventional media.