Home Institution

The University of Virginia

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

Portugal: Sustainability and Environmental Justice


Shoes are conventionally produced from materials like plastic or rubber that have detrimental impacts on the environment such as exacerbating existing waste accumulation, increasing global amounts of greenhouse gasses, or releasing toxic chemicals into soils and groundwater. These impacts have pushed footwear companies to introduce more sustainable and ecologically-friendly materials in their products. Roughly half of all cork production occurs in Portugal. The present work employs a comparative life cycle assessment approach between traditional plastic and rubber insole material and cork insole material to investigate the environmental impact of each. Results show that during each stage of the insole life cycle, cork had less environmental impact, resource use, and emissions and thus functions as a feasible sustainable alternative to plastic and rubber.


Environmental Studies | Fashion Design | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Work, Economy and Organizations


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