Shoes Leave Large Carbon Footprint

Complicated shoes require complicated manufacturing

Footprints in snow

Footprints in snow     Photo: net_efekt

Trying to go green? Ditch your gym shoes for a pair of flip-flops. A pair of schmancy synthetic running shoes generates around 30lbs of carbon dioxide, according to a new study from MIT. That's equivalent to leaving a 100-watt bulb burning for an entire week.

More than two-thirds of the emissions are produced during the manufacturing process, an unusual breakdown for clothing, one of the study authors told The Guardian.

"Folks tend to find that manufacturing is relevant to the carbon footprint in hi-tech or specialized products," said co-author Randolph Kirchain, "Such as integrated circuits or that kind of thing." Not typically shoes.

The shoes studied by MIT were made from 26 different materials and required 360 steps to manufacture and assemble, with many pieces being produced on machines fed by coal. Researchers believe that by streamlining the manufacturing process, manufacturers may be able to slash their environmental impact.

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