Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Kick off your shoes

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes is when Carrie goes to a baby shower at her friend Kyra’s (played by Tatum O’Neill) and all the guests asked to remove their shoes upon entering.  In true Carrie style, she is wearing $485 silver open-toed Manolo Blahnik’s, but goes along with the request only to find when she’s ready to leave the shoes stolen.  She is devastated.

Kyra basically tells her to get a life, insinuating because she isn’t married with children hers is worthless, and essentially shoe shames Carrie for spending so much money on herself. 

At the conclusion of the episode, Carrie calls Kyra and leaves a message on her voicemail saying that she’s decided to get married…to herself.  And she is only registered for one thing:  silver open toed Manolos.  Shortly thereafter the replacement shoes arrive at her home with a congratulatory note.  Touché!  As a single woman at the time, that ending had me cheering.

But is there anything to a “no shoes” policy?

I was reminded of this after seeing an article touting a study by the University of Houston which found 39% of shoes contain bacteria C. diff (Clostridium difficile), “a public health threat now resistant to a number of antibiotics and the cause of multiple health conditions such as bad diarrhea, which can also progress to colon inflammation and further serious health problems.”

The article went on to state another study by the University of Arizona, which found 9 different forms of bacteria on the bottom of shoes.  Good Morning America did a test and found that the bottom of shoes were dirtier than toilet seats!   

In addition, “Dr. Charles Gerba, a Microbiologist and Professor at the University of Arizona, did a test with a brand new pair of shoes and found that within just two weeks 440,000 units of bacteria were found.  Of that, 275 of total bacteria were deadly E Coli.”

Think about it – you’re stepping outside on streets where dog waste, bird droppings or lawn toxins (among other things) prevalent.  Of course it’s icky!

Consider the floor of a public restroom, or even in your office.  Or the subway platform you just stood on or floor of the train you just rode home.  A public restroom contain around 2 million bacteria per square inch.

If you live in the country, the dirt you walk on daily could have anthrax or other animal excrement.

And while we’re on the subject, that rolling suitcase you’ve dragged all over town and then put on your hotel bed?  Consider what may be on those wheels next time and put it on the baggage rack instead.

Perhaps Carrie Bradshaw’s friend wasn’t so nutty after all!  Her whole rationale for the removal of shoes upon entering her home was for fear her young (crawling) children would be subjected to all kinds of bacteria, and she’s right. 

Now some say that’s OK, and in fact “a little bit of dirt could be a good thing.”  In an interview for the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Morse, Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University comments, "The Hygiene Hypothesis says that one of the reasons why we see asthma and allergies is because the immune system isn't being kept busy with fighting off the bad guys.  There is evidence for both sides, and we epidemiologists debate this every week…As long as guests wipe their feet on the doormat, shoes are fine.”

Although there seems to be no evidence that proves we will get sick from what we bring into our home on our shoes, I still choose to remove mine.  I live in small spaces, and don’t have a mudroom, so no place to keep that bacteria at a safe distance.  I institute a shoes-off policy about 80% of the time.

Beyond keeping the floors cleaner and with less bacteria, it also just feels good to let my toes roam free.

It’s more comfy to go barefoot, plus it could be good for your feet flexibility (just be careful if you have any lesions on your foot, which could allow for bacteria directly into your system).

And you can always provide fun slippers, socks or flip-flops for your guests!

So if you need an excuse to kick off those shoes, look no further.  It could be good for your feet, your family and your floors.

Shoe fully free,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™