So I read in this blog post that Americans own, on average, 19 pairs of shoes.

When I read that I probably snorted or mentally rolled my eyes.  Ridiculous, I thought.  Why would anybody own that many pair of shoes?  Just another indication of how addicted our culture is to foolish consumption.

But then I paused and wondered.  How many pairs of shoes do I own?

I counted them and the answer is nine.  I own nine pairs of shoes.  While I was relieved to discover that I was well under the national average, I was a bit surprised to discover that I own so many pairs of shoes.  Five of the nine haven’t been worn in well over a year.  So while I may not be Imelda Marcos, as the owner of 9 pairs of shoes (five of which sit useless in my closet) I’m in no position to be judgmental of my fellow overshoed Americans.

The blog post that caused me to count my shoes addresses the great need for shoes in some parts of the world. Maybe we could get by with a few less shoes and help get shoes to those who don’t have any instead.  It reminded me of something that happened to us in Haiti once–told HERE.

12 comments on “Shoes

  1. shoreacres says:

    I don’t think 19 pair is necessarily too many. After all — I have 22! But, there’s something else to consider: what kind of shoes are they, and where do they come from? Here’s my inventory, as of five minutes ago:

    2 pair sandals
    2 pair hiking boots
    1 pair Western boots
    3 pair high heels
    4 pair flats
    10 pair boat shoes

    Now, you might say — ten pair of boat shoes? The truth is, I wear them out at work on a regular basis, so I have an ebay alert set up. Whenever a pair of Sperry’s in the model I favor pops up, I bid or buy, and keep some extras around. I’ve never paid more than $20 for what goes for $70 in the stores.

    And the heels and flats? Three pair were my mother’s, and I kept them after she died. The rest go back to my previous life, which would have been the 1980s.

    Different shoes, different purposes. I’m not going to feel guilty about that. As always, being aware of what we have, and evaluating what we need, is the important point. More than a few times I’ve been tempted to get rid of the heels, but the fact is, there are times when I do need them, even if those times come along only every couple of years. Better to keep them in the inventory, than have to go out and buy them.


    • Bill says:

      Definitely everyone needs to figure out what makes sense for them. As I said, I discovered that I have twice as many shoes as I need and use, so I’m certainly in no position to judge. I am glad though that I was prompted to check.


  2. Joanna says:

    I have just bought a new pair of boots yesterday and I’m not sure how many pairs of shoes or boots I have got either. I do use a range of footwear, wellies (rubber boots), trainers, workwear boots for out on the land and good shoes for when I am in my business like mode, and like you have a few pairs that aren’t worn. I have to say though, please take care if you are thinking of organising a mass collection to send abroad for needed shoes. It may be more appropriate for them to have shoes made in the country they live in, where they can be repaired easier and provide employment, rather than putting local craftsman out of business, as has happened in some cases due to swamping developing countries with our hand me down clothes. This article has some great ideas for donating shoes and other goods


    • Bill says:

      I agree with you. We used to regularly have people contact us about sending their cast off clothing to Haiti and we’d tell them that with the cost of shipping they’d do much more good just making a donation that could be used to buy clothes in-country.

      But before we knew that, I once hauled hundreds of pairs of shoes to Haiti in giant duffle bags. We were almost clear of customs in the D.R. when someone decided to check one of my bags. He gave me a puzzled look, probably trying to size up whether I was smuggling them in to sell. I looked at him and said the only thing I could think of at the time that seemed relevant: “Son zapatos.” The look he gave me then was one that had me imagining a night in jail there. Luckily a supervisor came over, looked over the situation and waved me through.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. valbjerke says:

    Now you’ve started something 🙂
    Four. Steel toed work boots, steel toed rubber boots, winter boots, a pair of hand me down crocs for summer.
    I think people own too much stuff period. Consumerism – we are bombarded at every turn with the idea that we need more more more. Bigger tv, newer appliances, a better car.


    • Bill says:

      No doubt. I have a pair of work boots and a pair of waterproof boots for working in the mud or rain. I have a pair of dress shoes and a pair of casual shoes. That’s all the shoes I need and of course I could easily get by with an all-purpose pair of boots and a pair of shoes suitable for dress or casual. It’s easy to fall into the trap of accumulating stuff.


  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, shoes yeah, I don’t have a lot of shoes but at last count three pair of actual shoes but then there are rubber boots for barn yard work and work boots for every thing else so that would bring the total to five. Oh, yeah, and on special occasions I have a pair of cowboy boots so six would be the tally. When I married a second time, my wife carried in boxes of shoes and in my mind cluttered up the closet with all those shoes. A school project for my daughter required her to count the pair of shoes in the household and just from my wife we counted 80 some pairs shoes. I quickly learned that the subject of reducing the number of shoes was not open for discussion. In our 23 years of marriage, I saw very few times when any of those shoes were worn. I probably should pay attention to shoes a little more but they are just not on my radar for fashion. Well, neither is my entire wardrobe.

    Have a great practical shoe day.


    • Bill says:

      I’m not interested in fashion either. I know some folks enjoy having lots of shoes and clothes. Fortunately that’s not important to us. Of course clothes are not the worst thing a person could hoard.


  5. The blog post you linked to was interesting, and I’m tempted to dig further into the fact he offers up about the link between ebola and going barefoot in the jungles of Africa. I have a friend who collects people’s used running shoes when her church goes to a mission project in the Dominican Republic each year – they take a couple of suitcases worth of shoes for the village where the mission is.

    I feel like shoe acquisition is a relatively recent thing, maybe from the 50’s on. I grew up in the 60’s/70’s, and had a pair of shoes for daily wear, a pair of keds for home, rubber boots and my Sunday shoes. That was considered quite a lot for a growing child, and the daily and Sunday shoes were bought with growing room, and I was trained to polish them every Saturday night, to keep them in good shape for longer. My family was an ordinary, middle class family.

    Today, shoes are cheaper to buy, so we do. We’ve also come to expect that we need different kinds of footwear for different activities. Some of this is valid – the modern hiking boots are wonderful – lightweight yet strong, and vastly preferable to hiking in something like my steel toed work boots, which is what we did when I was growing up. The support in a pair of well made running shoes is so much better than the Keds I spent all my gym classes in. So some of the new shoe culture is good, in my opinion.

    I have 7 pairs of footwear right now, and should really have 8 (I need a pair of pumps to wear with dresses). Two of those are boots – rubber and leather for work around the farm. I use the leather ones for hiking as well (they’re fairly light). I have a pair of lace up shoes for work, a pair of running shoes for daily wear, a pair of flats for dress wear, a pair of sandals and my bedroom slippers. I had a pair of pumps, but broke the heel on one, so threw them out. It feels like enough. If I was a downtown office worker, I am sure I’d need a few more – I’d have to be a lot dressier. If I was a more dedicated hiker, I’d invest in a pair of hiking boots. If I was sailing again, I’d get a pair of white soled deck shoes and a pair of yachting boots – regular gum boots do not cut it on a boat.

    I do not keep shoes I don’t wear. I send them to the thrift store, or throw them out. I try not to buy shoes I won’t wear often – it seems wasteful. Because I have issues with my feet, I only buy shoes with a lot of support, and because those cost more, I probably take care of them more than others might. My teens both buy cheap shoes – for looks, style etc. and have to buy them frequently as a result.


    • Bill says:

      You raise a lot of interesting points in your comment. When I was growing up we had two pairs of shoes–one pair for school and one for Sunday. In the summer we went barefoot, even when working. By the time I got to high school I needed athletic shoes too.

      Shoes are more expendable now. Does anyone have shoes repaired any more?

      The reason I have so many is because I’ve kept shoes I no longer wear. One of my nine pair is a pair of sandals I bought when we were on vacation at least 15 years ago. The shoes I took on that trip weren’t broken in and they hurt my feet. I noticed lots of people wearing this kind of sandal and they looked comfortable. So I bought a pair thinking they’d make the trip more pleasant. But I didn’t like them. Wore them one day then went back to my other shoes. I think they’ve been on my feet once since then. So they’ve been worn twice in 15 years. Why the heck haven’t I given them away? I also have a pair of running shoes in my closet. I used to run regularly but quit when we moved here. That’s been 11 years. Good grief.


  6. associatedluke says:

    19?!?! WOW. I have 7. But still… Good to realize this.


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