Each year 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced. A lot of carbon emissions are produced just to make the shoes that we wear! Some consumers are looking for companies that make carbon negative shoes. But what is carbon neutrality and is it just a passing trend? Read this guide to learn more about carbon neutrality and what it means.
What Is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutral is a term that's thrown around a lot these days, but what is carbon neutral? When a company, product, service, or event is carbon neutral, that means the carbon emissions used to make that product have been balanced out. This product, company, service, or event is now neutral - they produce carbon emissions but offset the same amount of those emissions.
Carbon savings, also known as carbon offsetting, allows companies and individuals to invest in environmental projects around the world. This helps offset their carbon footprint. These projects may take place in developing countries. They are designed to help them reduce their future emissions. They could be anything from clean energy technology development or planting trees. All of the projects are designed to help lower our carbon footprint and bring social and community benefits to developing countries.
Customers Prefer Eco-Friendly Brands
The number of businesses claiming to be carbon neutral is on the rise. Consumers hold companies accountable and companies recognize their corporate social responsibility roles. Many customers prefer to buy from companies that are environmentally friendly and have low emissions. Phrases like carbon-neutral refocus the attention of the company and suggest a sense of corporate social responsibility when it comes to their energy, supply chain, materials, and labor practices. Every time a purchase is made there is a shared goal between the company and the consumer: to reduce carbon emissions.
What Does Carbon Neutrality Have to Do With Shoes?
Consumers are just now starting to think about the impact their purchases have on the planet and trying to make better decisions. One example of this new mindset can be found in shoes.
Footwear Manufacturing Produces Emissions
The average pair of running shoes during its lifecycle creates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. This is an unusually high emissions output for a product that does not use electricity. It is the equivalent of leaving a 100-watt light bulb burning for a whole week! So, where do the emissions come from? Turns out, that a pretty tricky question to answer. Let's break it down. One company conducted a study to access the production of their shoes and where all the green-house gases come from. This can help them target greenhouse gas hot-spots and help their company make more eco-friendly shoes. They divided the shoe's lifecycle into 5 stages: materials, manufacturing, use, transportation, and demise. They found out the majority of the carbon emission was produced in the first two stages. More than two-thirds of a running shoe's carbon impact can be traced to the manufacturing process.
Coal Is Burned to Make Footwear
In China, coal is the dominant source of electricity. Since most footwear manufacturing plants are based in China, it takes a lot of coal to make a pair of shoes. Some manufacturing processes used to make shoes, like sewing, injection molding, and foaming are all using more energy. This level of carbon emissions is expected for electronic products but it is not common for clothing or shoes.
Transportation Adds to Footwear Emissions
Another aspect that is overlooked is the transportation of the shoes. Shoes might be manufactured in other countries far away to take advantage of the labor laws. This means the shoes must be transported via ships, airplanes, and trucks to deliver the goods to retailers. Since footwear is such a large source for carbon emissions it seems logical for footwear companies to produce more eco-friendly sneakers. Many companies are starting to rethink their manufacturing process and their supply chain to become carbon neutral.
How Sustainable Footwear Helps the Planet
Carbon neutral footwear is manufactured with significantly lower carbon emissions and can help reduce your carbon footprint and the company's that produced them. Some companies achieve carbon neutrality by purchasing carbon offsets and others try to reduce the amount of carbon in the manufacturing process. Shoes are being made from recycled tires, yoga mats, and even trash from the ocean which help cut down on the number of plastics created each year. Other eco-friendly sneaker companies are purchasing carbon offsets to completely offset the entire amount of carbon that is produced to make their products each year.
Footwear Companies Can Do More
Carbon offsets are nice but they should be viewed as just a starting point for companies. Eventually, companies should do more than just offset their carbon emissions by trying to reduce it. This can be achieved by using manufacturing plants that run on renewable energy instead of coal. Manufacturing facilities also throw away a lot of scraps of materials and fabrics. Recycling these fabrics and using them in the shoe design could also reduce a lot of carbon emissions in the shoe manufacturing process. Printing different designs on shoes instead of sewing them on can reduce the amount of energy to produce a shoe. Footwear companies could relocate their factories to a country that uses renewable energy. When they do this, it will also eliminate some of the carbon emissions produced in the transportation process.
Do Your Part to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Shoes produce a lot of carbon emissions in the manufacturing process. Companies are looking for better ways to manufacture. At the same time, consumers are holding them to their promises of carbon neutrality. Reducing our carbon emissions is going to take a lot more than just one person. We will all have to pitch in and do our part. Contact us to learn more about our environmentally friendly shoes and how they help the plant.