“Understanding environmental footprint is resource intensive. The key is, you need to put your analytical effort into the areas that matter,” Kirchain says. “In general, we found that if you have a product that has a relatively high number of parts and process steps, and that is relatively light [weight], then you want to make sure you don’t overlook manufacturing.”
In response to environmental concern, companies have started to take account of their products’ greenhouse-gas contributions, in part by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide associated with every process throughout a product’s life cycle.
Life-cycle assessment is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from-cradle-to-grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). These can help avoid a narrow outlook on environmental concerns by compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases, evaluating the potential impacts, and Interpreting the results to help make a more informed decision. Cradle-to-grave approach means breaking down every possible greenhouse gas-emitting step: from the point at which the shoes’ raw materials are extracted to the shoes’ demise, whether burned, landfilled or recycled.