The Temptation to Eco-Shop Virtually Across the Border


With the Canadian dollar stronger than the American at the moment, the temptation to shop on-line for environmentally-friendly products from companies south of the border has never been harder to resist. I succumbed to temptation the other week and ordered myself the pair of Simple Shoes in the photo above. The experience of ordering from the U.S. was not entirely a happy one.

Simple Shoes recently got a massive eco-makeover. Their product-line now features pedbeds made from recycle popbottles, 100% post-consumer recycled paper footforms, organic cotton and organic linen uppers, natural rubber or recycled tire soles, and water-based cements. Moreover, Simple shoes are minimally packaged in shoeboxes made from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and/or in biodegradeable bags. I needed office-type shoes for my new desk-job, so how could I resist buying such a stylish pair with such an environmental pedigree?

My first choice would have been to buy Simple Shoes locally. Glebe Trotters used to sell the brand. However, they don’t anymore. I’m not sure why. I emailed the Simple Shoes distribution person to find out if there were any Ottawa retailers I didn’t know about, but she replied in the negative. The closest place I could go to buy Simple Shoes in person would be Ciara’s Casual Chic in Toronto. They also offer shopping on-line. It can be a little chancy buying something like shoes from a catalogue, but I’d had a pair of Simple Shoes before, so I knew what size was likely to fit. Unfortunately Ciara’s online store didn’t have the shoes I wanted in my size.

By this time irrational impulses took over. I simply was not going to be denied Simple Shoes. The dollar was doing well, so I thought why not order them from the U.S. Bad decision.

Ordering went smoothly. Despite being so eco-conscious, the shoes were only $85 USD. Not bad for shoes. Shipping was $18 to Canada, again a cost I could swallow. Unfortunately, when UPS showed up at my door they threatened to hold my lovely environmentally-friendly shoes for ransom unless I shelled out another $42.44 to them for brokerage and duty.

I don’t mind paying the government the taxes they would be getting if I had bought the shoes from a Canadian retailer. I do mind paying UPS $30.00 on top of the $18 they were already paid for shipping, for the supposed effort it takes to take a pair of shoes across the border. I had no choice, however. If I wanted those shoes I had to hand over another $42.44. So I did. And the shoes fit. And I love them even if they cost $145.44 instead of $85. But there is no way I would purchase another pair from across the border. So if anyone knows of anywhere in Canada that sells Simple Shoes and would be willing to ship to Ottawa, please comment!

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