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Choose a shoe made with water-based cement

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Choosing shoes made with water-based adhesive lessens the amount of toxic substances that are released when more hazardous solvent-based adhesives are used.

Find it! Shoes made with water-based adhesive

Toxic cements, used to adhere shoe uppers to soles and the like, has several eco-drawbacks. Water-based cements or shoes made without glues at all avoid these problems.

Before you buy

A vendor may use water-based glue or shoes constructed with stitching for one product in a line but not necessarily for every shoe it produces, so check before you purchase.

Choosing a shoe made with water-based cement helps you go green because...

  • Water-based adhesives produce effluent (wastewater from the factory) that is less harmful for the environment than the pollution produced by chemical-based adhesives.

Solvent-based urethane adhesives can contain up to 80 percent volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and toluene. Water-based adhesives that use rubber emulsion, in contrast, contain only 6 percent VOCs. Water-based adhesives are also just as effective in keeping shoe parts together as their solvent-based counterparts.

VOCs from shoes made using solvent-based adhesives produce hazardous waste that could be carcinogenic to humans. Low-VOC water-based adhesives are an alternative for gluing the midsole to the outsole of the sneaker without using chemicals.

Related health issues

Further, industrial solvents and glues used in shoe production can harm employees in shoe factories. Toluene, for example, a solvent that has been found in the air of Vietnamese shoe factories, can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Extended exposure not only harms developing fetuses, but it can also lead to liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.[1]


  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Organic solvents that easily evaporate into the air. VOCs are emitted by thousands of products, including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, and furnishings, and may cause immediate and long-term health problems.VOCs are also considered a possible carcinogen, and can create ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.

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