The Deceptively Destructive Footprint Of The Shoe Industry

The Deceptively Destructive Footprint Of The Shoe Industry

Breaking news! The shoes industry is finally deciding to pick up after themselves and are taking preventative measures to limit their impact on the environment! Or… so we’d like to hear. Unfortunately this is not the case, YET, but it very well could be if more people start to hold those companies who are still dragging their feet responsible for their part! 

If you’ve been keeping up with our blogs or just environmental news in general, you’ve probably already heard snippets and tidbits of information regarding the shoe industry. It’s… well, rather bleak. The amount of shoes we produce annually alone is dipping into the 20 billion range and last we checked, most people only had two feet. The population of shoes on our planet is more than double that of the human population for crying out loud! We. Don’t. Need. That. Many. Shoes!

Now, horrible spending habits and space consumption aside, the shoe industry is responsible for a lot more damage to our environment than people may realize. Today, we’re going to shine a light on a few of the key contributing issues the shoe industry is guilty of playing a part in; and maybe, we’ll even convince you of the importance of this matter by the end!

How it Impacts the environment

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Now, when most people think about how this over-production of shoes could be detrimental to our environment, most people would instantly jump to pointing fingers towards them ending up in landfills. While that in itself is a pretty big impact as a single shoe can generally take anywhere from 30 - 40 years to decompose– that’s already the lesser of two evils. 

The biggest contributing factor is actually found in the initial and ending phase of making the shoes believe it or not! 

Guilt Party A: Making the shoes

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The process of making a shoe is rather full of chemicals, machinery, and burning of fuels; as you might imagine, this is obviously not great for the environment. Larger shoe companies would need bigger factories in order to produce the massive shipments they need which sadly, are not likely to all be bought up. However, in order to gain a profit off the production of these shoes, it would be near unaffordable to hire enough skilled workers to be able to keep up with these orders, so they instead turn to machines.

Machines, of course, run on either gas or electricity. Both of which usually result in burning of fuels to power the machines. However, the machines themselves are not the only problem here, the material the shoes are generally made from are also just as guilty! 

In order to cut corners and make a bigger profit from the selling of shoes, many companies use plastics or other petrochemical-derived materials which (as the name might’ve clued you into) are not very naturally sourced. 

The shoes also often need to undergo chemical treatments to tan leathers, dye them, manufacturer soles and finish them as well! What happens with the leftover chemicals though? Well, we can only hope they are properly disposing of the waste or recycling when they can correctly; but with the number of scandals that come out with manufacturing plants dumping their waste into nearby water sources… the use of chemicals in general is not ideal.

So to boil it down, the production of a single shoe on average, can generate upwards of 30 pounds of carbon dioxide after going through that whole process. Now think about how many shoes we produce per year on average, that becomes a pretty big number doesn’t it?

Guilt Party B: Distributing the shoes

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Another cost cutting method many large shoe manufacturers monopolize on, is cheaper labor. By this, we mean that it’s more affordable for companies to build or run their manufacturing plants in third world countries where cost of labor is cheaper. However, by doing this that also means that distributing their shoes would require an extra step which wouldn’t have been necessary before.

For example, let’s say their customers are mainly from the United States. If their manufacturing plant was somewhere in the United States, then the shoes would only have to be shipped by car/truck to the different stores located within the same country. This would still contribute to the emissions of the vehicle in the step of distribution; but it is a much smaller contribution than, say, transporting your shoes from China via boat/ plane and then driving it to those stores. 

Though this may seem like a little step, the amount of emissions can easily add up over time and in general, it’s just an unnecessary step that could’ve been avoided if not for companies seeking to save that extra few dollars. 

Not only does this money saving scheme negatively affect the environment, but it also means that the company isn’t really contributing back towards their own country's economy. By hiring foreign labor, they end up profiting from their own countries' consumers, without even giving anything back through paying wages towards workers within their own country. Overall, it’s just not a great practice.

How Soco is trying to help

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As much as we’ve been sending jabs at the rest of the shoe industry, we too are a company that does still admittedly contribute in some ways to this problem. However, we’re not of the mindset that there’s nothing we can do about it, instead, we’re actively trying our best to limit our waste production and positively influence other companies to do the same! 

While we may be guilty of occasionally over-producing goods, we try our best to offset this by using recycled materials (such as the rubber components) and avoid the use of plastic all together! By reusing old rubber, such as tires that would’ve been sent to the landfill to rot, we’re not only repurposing a material but also preventing the release of those chemicals should that rubber product have been left to decompose naturally.

We give these old materials a new life in the form of fashionable footwear that we do our best to produce in the most environmentally friendly way possible. We also try to make our packaging as eco-friendly as it can be while still boycotting plastics whenever possible!

So join us today in our mission to encourage other shoe companies to do the same! Shop Soco and continue to support other like-minded businesses until those bigger companies get the message. 

Don’t believe us when we say that fashionable footwear can be fashioned out of reused materials? Then Click Here to see our products for yourself today!

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