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Carbon footprint for running shoes equal to running a light bulb for a week

October 15, 2019

An MIT-led life-cycle assessment found that a typical pair of sneakers (aka running shoes) accounts for 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to keeping a 100-watt light bulb on for a week.

The group examined 65 discrete parts of a normal running shoe that requires more than 360 processing steps, from sewing and cutting to injection molding, foaming, and heating of small, light components, much of which are energy-intensive.  They concluded that more than two-thirds of the carbon dioxide emissions in shoe production comes from the manufacturing processes, with less than a third from acquiring or extracting raw materials.

Much of a sneaker’s carbon impact comes from powering manufacturing plants: a significant portion of the world’s shoe manufacturers are located in China, where coal is the dominant source of electricity.

The results will help shoe designers identify ways to improve design and reduce shoes’ carbon footprint as well as help industries assess the carbon impact of other consumer products more efficiently.

Access the study here. Read MIT Technology Review article here.

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