Take Your Shoes Off at the Front Door


What do you think when you see a sign like this at a friend’s door:


I take some things seriously, like regular Oreos, never Double Stuf and a uniform #AA5C0A for my S’more marshmallow.  But no shoes at a friend’s house?  No problem.

In history it was often a good idea to remove your shoes before coming inside.  Horses and humans alike used streets as open sewer lines.  Today you can still track in toxins or allergens, or according to one concerned online commenter, bird, dog, cat and even human excrement.

And culturally, according to the internets, Americans, with their heavy-footed indoor traffic habits, are filthier than many European and certainly Asian homes and even…Canadian?

But I’m not going to change for Euro love.  Or because I’ve got kids that spend a lot of time on the floor.  Or even the pollens to which I have adverse reactions.  The biggest reason I’m an advocate is because I’m the one wielding the vacuum cleaner.  Less dirt tracked in mean less vacuuming, less dusting and less cleaning product.

“Say ‘Kindly remove your shoes’ again….”

Here’s what it took to go shoe-less in our home:

It’s the Trail of Treads.

  1. Put two door mats on the front porch.
  2. Move a basket to the front door to corral all the outside shoes.
  3. Find a new home for all the leftover containers once stored in the basket.
  4. Put a pair of indoor shoes for each adult family member in the basket.
  5. Clean up the basket 8 times a day when the baby takes all the shoes out or you spill it trying to close the blinds.
  6. Find and empty a new basket for the back door.
  7. Repeat steps 2- 5 at the back door.
  8. Accept a compliance rate similar to 21st century presidential popular vote percentages.

Did it work?  Are we a slippered, white-linen tunic, zen family?  Well, sort of?  It’s become the norm but sometimes I’ll look down at everyone’s feet and see that only a quarter of us are shoeless.  And it’s usually the baby because she’s figured out she can take off her shoes by herself.  And what’s the most common thing for a mom to do when she comes home from running errands?  Make six trips back and forth between the house and the car getting child, groceries, child, purse, maybe another child, certainly more groceries and back again for sunglasses or to lock the car.  I’m not shoeing up for each leg.

So I wouldn’t say we were really a No Shoe Family.  I won’t ask my friends to do it when they visit.  But I will try to teach my children to offer to take their shoes off when they are guests.

Now I’m going to walk home from this coffee shop and try not to step in any bird/pet/human feces.  Wish me luck.

October 9, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. Anonymous

    love it. love the rock shoe matts. love your writing. love that little blond baby. will consider the shoe thing.

  2. zerowastemommy

    That 'little blond baby' just showed me she can now put shoes on too. I see a few more baskets in our future.

  3. IronMike

    We take off shoes and put on indoor shoes because everywhere we walk, we see people spitting on the sidewalks. And here, at least, you can get a lot of bad things by dragging in the spit on the bottom of your shoes. TB anyone?


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