Sample Essay on Environmental Impact of Shoes Manufacturing

Homework 8

Environmental Impact of Shoes Manufacturing

From the provided hypothetical example of the life cycle environmental impact of shoes, it is evident that less energy is consumed during the manufacturing of leather shoes (shoe A) compared to synthetic shoes (shoe B) (“Environmental Activities” 3). Indeed, the production of shoes B requires the double amount of energy than that required to produce shoes A. This means that more fossil fuels must be burned to run the plant machinery in synthetic shoes industries. In the end, the burning of the fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, which lead to air pollution as well as depletion of the ozone layer. Regarding raw material consumption, leather shoes materials are in inadequate supply, while some of them can be reused. The aspect of reusing these materials clearly indicates that the shoe A is environmentally friendly since some substances can be used for a different purpose. On the other hand, raw materials for synthetic shoes are largely available but are nonrenewable. This is a great disadvantage since nonrenewable materials find their way into the landfills and eventually contaminate soils and drinking water.

Furthermore, concerning water usage, the manufacturing of synthetic shoes uses 4 gallons of water per 100 pairs of shoes produced. This quantity is much higher than the 2 gallons necessary to produce 100 pairs of leather shoes. Therefore, the production of leather shoes enhances water conservation while the production of synthetic shoes contributes to freshwater scarcity. In addition, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of 100 pairs of leather shoes emit 2 lb. of organic chemicals that cause water pollution and 4 lb. that contribute to air pollution. This is much lower than the environmental damage caused by the manufacturing of synthetic footwear, which releases 8 lb. of inert inorganic chemicals into the environment causing water pollution as well as 1 lb. of air pollution. Finally, based on the data provided, the production of 100 pairs of leather shoes releases 2 lb. of hazardous and solid waste into the environment whereas that of synthetic shoes yields 1 lb. of harmful sludge and 3 lb. of harmless solid waste (“Environmental Activities” 3). However, it is not possible to weight one aspect of pollution such as land, air or water pollution as more important than another since life cycle analysis (LCA) only determines the strengths and weaknesses of products in the stages of manufacturing and disposal. Indeed, the analysis does not provide a method for ranking the significance of the factors under scrutiny (“Environmental Activities” 1). This is because there is no comparison between the dissimilar environmental impacts of hazardous waste such as heavy metal and of energy consumption since their effect is also tied to economic and social aspects. These decisions are made by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, which recommends the inclusion of the inventory, impact, and enhancement in the different LCAs.

Sustainable Design for Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have combined efforts to establish up-to-date standards regarding fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions for new vehicles (Wolfe). Light–duty cars such as buses and vans must meet the set fuel standards of 60 miles for each gallon of fuel and the contamination standards of 143 gram per mile of carbon dioxide by the year 2025.  Regarding heavy and medium vehicles such as long-haul trailers, the standards include to reduce energy consumption by 35 percent by 2017. According to Wolfe, several companies in the transportation industry have made the necessary technological advances to respect these standards with the engineering of innovative designs that reduce carbon emissions while decreasing fuel consumption. The new designs encompass high-speed transmissions, advanced batteries, sleek aerodynamics, environmental friendly A/C systems, regenerative braking as well as engine off in idle mode. The potential benefits arising from the above advancements are various and include economy revitalization, environmental protection through the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions, lower fuel prices as well as reduced dependence on oil, thus enhancing the country’s security.

Works cited

Wolfe, Christina. “Driving Truck Efficiency with Smart Standards: Innovative Companies on How It Can Be Done.” Environmental Defense Fund, 30 Sept. 2015, Accessed 29 March 2017.

“Environmental Activities for the Classroom: Product Life-Cycle Analysis.” TN Series. Waste Management and Research Center, Champaign, 1999, Accessed 29 March 2017.