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Shoes that are Made in the USA

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Shoes are

Postby Julmaran В» 30.03.2020


All rights reserved. It was like nothing the young Edwards had ever seen. Worldwide, more than 24 billion pairs of shoes were made in , with over two billion pairs sold in the U. Many components of modern shoes are made of plastic materials, from the soles to the uppers to the eyelets. Most of those shoes are partly, or in many cases completely, fabricated from plastic and plastic-like materials, from the squishy soles to the pointy heels to the knit polyester uppers to the brittle eyelet holes.

So your feet are only a short stopover in their long, long lifetimes, before they pile up in landfills and float down waterways, often living on like zombies for hundreds of years.

The first stirrings of a shoe revolution are fomenting, though, and the industry is starting to look hard at the ways it can build a better, more sustainable mousetrap for your feet. But to understand how big of a challenge that is, we have to understand how we ended up in a world where most shoes are a soft, squishy mess of plastics.

Until the middle of the s, shoes were made from materials found in the natural world. Wood for heels. Tanned leathers for uppers and straps.

Soles were rubber, or cork, or sometimes hunks of wood carved to cradle a foot. But shifting culture and materials science were coming for shoes, as they came for everything else. In the late s, factory labor emerged as a dominant work type in Europe and the U. Once a year, usually in the summer, the factories had to close down for repairs, releasing a flood of workers out into the world, many of whom flocked to the seaside. Instead of work boots, vacationers wanted light shoes that could withstand the damp of the beach.

Around the same time, sports and leisure culture was developing. Croquet players in England wanted sticky soles to keep them steady as they aimed at their wickets. The solution? That stable rubber material quickly made its way into tires , as seals on steam engines—and onto the soles of shoes for the athletes and vacationers of the time. Around 40, years ago, human started using footwear, archeological evidence has found.

The oldest pair in the world are around 9, years old and were found in California. In the first pair with rubber soles was patented, and by canvas and rubber shoes started to be called sneaks, or sneakers. In in North America, each person bought an average 5. In Africa it was 1. Almost half of the footwear exported in the world is made of rubber or plastic. Today, about 70 percent of all rubber used in manufacturing is synthetic, according to the American Chemical Society.

Read about the history of rubber and why we can't live without it. With the rise of rubber and leisure time—and along with it, sports like running and basketball—came a cry from athletes and shoe designers for more cushioning, more springiness, more support, less stretch. By the first few decades of the s, the market for athletic shoes exploded and designs multiplied. In the s, Jazz Age tastes for embellishment and sparkle were answered by plastics, from t-straps covered with fake crystals themselves often made of plastic to ultra-shiny celluloid finishes on evening shoes.

Simultaneously, women started entering the American workforce en masse, a movement that only grew during war times and beyond. The variety and sheer number of shoes being bought for fashion, rather than purely practical purposes, grew. At home, most heeled shoes tended to be platforms or wedges made with natural bases.

But those styles were not popular with the soldiers. So the high heel returned with a vengeance in the postwar period. The practical problem with high heels was technical. The heel spike had to support essentially the entire weight of the wearer.

Steel worked, but it was expensive and heavy. But new ultrahard thermoplastics were, and they could be coated with leather—and later, vinyls—to hide the ugly interior. Designers drove a subsequent explosion in the quality and types of synthetic materials available. Among them, Ferragamo designed wedges based on Bakelite and sandals that used wide strips of Nylon for the uppers , and Roger Vivier sold clear plastic booties to fashionable clients. Seventies-era disco-goers could buy sky-high platforms; one design incorporated little fishbowls in the heels.

Newly unfettered by design limitations, shoes began to reflect the culture around them, including the s obsession with the clear materials and plastics that were driving the space race at the time, says Semmelhenk. And the rise of skate culture in the western U. Simultaneously, worldwide sports culture was exploding. Running records were being set at every new world championships and Olympics, and companies like Adidas and Nike fought to get the top athletes to wear their cutting-edge designs.

The same thing was happening on the basketball court. The squishy, springy foam sole was born. Around the same time, designers got excited about using leather look-alikes for the uppers.

Those materials were usually made from polyvinyl, a type of plastic. Players liked that they were flexible like leather but deformed less. Designers liked that they could produce a much wider range of colors, textures, and finishes than they could with natural leathers. From then on, springy foam technologies and vinyl-esque uppers became the name of the game.

Companies hired squadrons of designers and materials scientists to tweak the chemistry or shape of their materials to eke out a tiny bit of color from the upper, or extra energy returned to the runner from the soles. Today's foams kick about 70 percent more energy back at their wearers than the proto-foams of the s; many runners think it translates to a noticeable increase in speed, though the science is still out on that.

No matter what, new technologies have changed the way feet move and running motions develop. Plastics and plastic-like substances have completely reshaped the footwear landscape, says Nicoline van Enter , an expert on shoe design who focuses on sustainability issues. So the big question now is: Can they also be made in a way that uses less planet-choking plastic? Some shoe companies are looking to the past to excise plastic.

Sevilla Smith , for example, builds each pair from only natural materials—strips of leather, wood, and metal nails—designing each shoe with the minimum of materials so they can be resoled or repaired nearly indefinitely. The current trend in athletic footwear design, says van Enter, is less, less, less: Think Nike Flyknits, with their stretchy knit uppers. That design also offers an interesting opportunity, says van Enter. Any shoe that uses mixed materials is tricky, if not impossible, to recycle, she says.

So a shoe that uses only one material offers at least some hope of being recycled eventually. Adidas is working on making a shoe that fits these principles. Simultaneously, they and other brands are making shoes out of recycled ocean plastics. But the limits of plastic recycling are currently hard. Or, maybe, the future looks stranger. Your shoes are made of plastic. Sports, sex, and fashion shaped modern footwear design—and left shoes filled with plastics.

There may be solutions in sight. Your sneakers are part of the plastic problem The average American bought seven pairs of shoes in , many of which are made of plastic. Because they're not recyclable, most of them end up in the trash. By Alejandra Borunda. This article was created in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

Shoes for leisure, shoes for sports. The Story of Plastic. Fort Rock sandal 9, years old. Made of shredded sagebrush bark. Sneakers Plastic is used to make laces, heel, and linings.

North America. Sneakers can be ground up into crumb to create play surfaces and tracks. Did You Know? Plastics were making it easier and cheaper to fill that new market. National Geographic is committed to reducing plastics pollution. Learn more about our non-profit activities at natgeo.

Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge. Continue Reading.

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Postby Akinolmaran В» 30.03.2020

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