7.23.2009

What's the Matter With Crocs?

Crocs in every conceivable color!

The ubiquitous, and what seems like endlessly colored, outdoor shoe is back in the news again lately. It seems that after a handful of years of constant growth the shoe that many loved, then hated, then loved, then hated again, is in trouble. Perhaps because of its own seeming obsession with flooding the market or because of all the cheaper substitutes that started arriving, many have started foretelling the demise of Crocs.

From what we can see, the company isn't necessarily closing down or going bankrupt. It had enough early success to stave that off for a bit. But, it is an ailing patient and is currently trying to recreate itself to better handle the competition and the slowing sales.

Like many others - our original problem was an aesthetic one. While it suited the everyday wear of children it never seemed quite right when it translated to the adult version. Our kids, in particular, liked them - our son because of the ease of putting them on and taking them off (as well as their resistance to all sorts of abuse),and our daughter liked them for this reason also, but moreso because she liked (for a brief stage) that you could get and play with attachments. We tried them as adults and found that what they promoted was true in our case: they were easy, versatile in the outdoors, and light weight. Then, like the plague, in the matter of a few years they went from fairly obscure but also fairly cool to overtaking the planet (you'd be hard pressed to NOT see them everywhere from airports to shopping malls to tourist shops) and serving as an excuse to wear them anywhere and everywhere - even during formal events like a wedding or business meetings. Let's face it, they became so popular that they took on the 'appearance' of looking uncool. Uh oh.... image is everything. Soon, word started popping up of a persistent resistance and the equation wasn't always pretty. Nonetheless, until recently, our own kids had a pair each.

Around our house we kind of avoided the coolness issue because what we had was mostly suited to the outdoor business of gardening or playing. But, what troubled us more was that we couldn't quite get a clear answer on whether or not these things were good for the environment or not. It mattered to us that we might be buying into something that wasn't ethically made or poorly treated the environment during production or after the fact. Even sites like treehugger and the Daily Green were unsure, if resting on the side that thought of them as neither great, nor really terribly bad. The Daily Green quoted Crocs themselves in a product description: 'Crocs are made of PCCR, a closed-cell material that virtually eliminates odour. No one will clear a room with smelly feet if they are wearing a pair of Crocs. The material also discourages sweating, making Crocs even more comfortable.'.... PCCR is some sort of “proprietary” blend Crocs makes, likely a petroleum-derived foam....and are made of EVA plastic, which is a lot better than the PVC/vinyl most jelly shoes are constructed from.' So, they aren't plastic or rubber - but neither are they the greatest material either. Then again, nobody we researched was willing to say that they were the worst material either! hmmm.

So, as Crocs themselves advertised their production as new and revolutionary, they never really said they were environmentally friendly either, except if you took into account that they might last forever. That 'forever' thing caused a problem perhaps for accounting, because the longer they lasted, the less you needed to buy another pair. But, also, that 'forever' thing also started troubling us as a family - because not only was the production and material not biodegradable friendly, but now there was the picture stuck in our heads that all those colorful pairs we saw blanketing the horizon every time we went out would also now be swelling our landfills. The taste that originally was hopeful, started getting a little more tart - and even more pessimistic lately with all the more poorly made knock-offs. We're back to flip flops again for the summer, or bare feet. And when we want something a little more snazzy we opt for the VEJA SHOES .... oh yes, you knew we'd have to make a 'plug'!!

Veja Shoes

Though we have turned away from Crocs (and its replications)for no real firm answer, we feel a bit better about it. We think they just made us lazier people in various ways. Of course, you might think otherwise and we'd like to hear what you think? Have you been able to find something similar that are environmentally friendly and just as versatile to the outdoors? Or, darn it all, do you just like what you get from Crocs. Lay it on us if you want!

5 comments:

Stacie.Make.Do. said...

I have always thought of Crocs as ugly, but I like mine because in my tile-floored house they do a great job of cushioning my feet, so my legs and back don't hurt at the end of the day. And they don't stink.

Anonymous said...

I wore Crocs when they first appeared. And I still wear them (the same pair, actually.) I have arthitis. They support my balance. I can slip into them with ease. So for me, they're a very good thing. A life-saver. I have two pair: the originals which are for everyday and gardening, etc. And another pair for going out. I think I've had them for three years now and I have no plans to throw either of them into a landfill. That, I would say, is a good thing - something that is useful, functional, and lasting.

Becky said...

I wear crocs for gardening because they wash off easily and last... i will probably never need another pair. I don't like them for the children... my daughter fell constantly when wearing them. At some point with all of this falling she actually killed a tooth! She was 3 when this happened and will have a gray front tooth until she is almost 8! My children seem to move around better in tennis shoes or flip flops. I'll keep mine for gardening.

Hiskia said...

You're right, my daughter also loves her Crocs because they are easy putting on.

Aesthetically, I love those Salt Water Sandals they have in the USA. I don't know if they really are, but they certainly look like they are more environmentally friendly.

Anonymous said...

Crocs can be recycled. I recycled our worn out pair (yes, 9 year olds can wear a pair out) at Whole Foods. There is a drop box. I believe they are used to make new crocs. No Waste!