Manufacturing processes use valuable resources, such as the huge tracts of land for farming cows for leather, which is then tanned with a substance that pollutes rivers and streams (PVC may substitute leather which also has its own environmental impacts). There are also emissions from electricity generation and transportation, and the end of lifecycle disposal of shoes often into landfill.
The footwear industry can also be measured on its related social and health impacts. The overwhelming majority of multinationals have relied on sweatshops and exploitation to produce low-cost footwear to be competitive in the free market. In addition, the same chemicals used during manufacture that damage the environment, are causing illness to sweatshop workers. Substances known to be harmful to humans such as Benzine, Lead and Mercury, are commonplace in the footwear manufacturing factories of developing countries.