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Bank of America and Soles4Souls partner to take sustainable action on shoes — here's how

"It does this by supplying good footwear and apparel at affordable prices."

"It does this by supplying good footwear and apparel at affordable prices."

Photo Credit: Soles4Souls

Secondhand clothing charity Soles4Souls is getting a helping hand from Bank of America to expand a program that turns old shoes into new opportunities in the Dominican Republic, according to Environment+Energy Leader.

Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization renowned for its 4Opportunity program, which redistributes shoes and clothes, giving them a second life. The program helps by creating lasting jobs, giving people financial support, and protecting the environment. 

Through a $150,000 grant, Bank of America is allowing the expansion of the program into the Dominican Republic, as the outlet explained.

Since 2008, 4Opportunity has been supporting economically challenged communities in areas with limited market access. It does this by supplying good footwear and apparel at affordable prices, allowing community members to make money as resellers of these items, per E+E Leader

According to Soles4Souls, participants in the 4Opportunity program have increased their household income by 200% or more, bringing them above the international poverty line.

Besides helping people financially, the 4Opportunity program is great for the environment by giving shoes and clothes a longer life. 

In the U.S., about 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year, 95% of which end up in landfills and incinerators, per Unsustainable Magazine. This causes a lot of pollution and water waste. By collecting and redistributing these items, Soles4Souls prevents them from becoming trash and reduces their environmental impact.

Bank of America is one of the biggest funders of fossil fuel companies and came under fire this year for backtracking on prior commitments to divest from that high-pollution industry, so comparatively small environmental measures like this could be perceived as greenwashing — or gestures to seem more environmentally friendly and socially responsible than a company's larger actions would reveal. It's still important to recognize the good with the bad and acknowledge a charity like Soles4Souls needs investments like this, and that the comparatively small environmental impact still matters, while at the same time continuing to hold such a big corporation accountable with an expectation to do more.

Companies like Bank of America have the power to make a significant impact on environmental initiatives like these, and smaller ones can come up big too. There are several inspiring examples of companies making a positive impact.

For instance, C16 Biosciences has created Palmless, a sustainable alternative to traditional palm oil. Palm oil production is a significant contributor to deforestation and habitat loss for endangered species. By developing a yeast strain that produces oil through fermentation, C16 Biosciences offers a solution that reduces the need for harmful palm oil, helping protect our planet's precious ecosystems. 

Another great example is the coalition called Ship It Zero, which is pushing major retail corporations like Target, Walmart, and Amazon to commit to zero-pollution maritime shipping by 2030. This initiative aims to reduce the significant pollution caused by cargo ships, which not only contributes to global heating but also affects the health of communities living near ports.

As consumers, it is important to remember that your purchasing decisions and investments are crucial in the larger partnerships that can help us gain a more sustainable future.

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