The Global Athletic Shoe

Directions: Try to create the story of how a typical Nike athletic shoe is made. First, determine how the different phases of production and materials fit together. Create a diagram. Use 1 color pen only. Then based on any knowledge you may have of the different places listed, try to determine which phase of production corresponds to that location. You may use each location up to 2 times. After completing this process, discuss with your group or partner what you feel are the positives and negatives of producing shoes this way.

Parts of Final Product


Midsole (foam)

Outer sole

Tissue Paper


Input Materials/Process

petroleum (oil) (2 times)

natural gas



tanning chemicals

benzene (made from coal; when mixed with oil makes synthetic rubber)

vinyl acetate (made from natural gas and CO)

ethylene (made from oil)

EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate: foam substance)

polyurethane bag filled with a gas ("air")

100% recycled, unbleached corrugated cardboard

paper pulp

super container ship

assembly of shoes

design of shoes

control of operations


Oregon,Texas, Los Angeles

Taiwan, S. Korea

Tangerang, Indonesia, Sumatran rainforest, Indonesia


(Activity based on "Shoes" from Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things by Alan Durning and John Ryan, 1997)