Polymers have a lot going for them, but they get walked on all the time. especially here at the shoe store. Every shoe in here is made from polymers. Many are made from leather, which is one of many natural polymers that were around before we ever started making them. This running shoe (or is it a cross trainer?) has panels made of leather, and also of nylon. The sole is made out of a hard rubber called SBS rubber. A lot of the same stuff goes into these hiking boots, including padding made from polyurethane foam.

Even shoe laces are made from polymers, like nylon and cotton. Cotton is a form of a natural polymer called cellulose.

Monomer Mouse Lemur: It's gotta be the shoes

Pricier dress shoes are made of leather, but inexpensive pumps like this are often skinned with PVC (polyvinylchloride), the same "vinyl" that used to be found in vinyl car tops and vinyl siding on houses. This is also the same stuff used to make plastic pipes for plumbing!

Here's something weird. This shoe is made of natural leather, but the outside has been covered with PVC to make it look like plastic. No one here is quite sure Why.

It seems like the really tacky look from the 1970's is pretty popular now. That would explain these plastic rainbow shoes. They're made of polyethylene. But these plastic shoes are even weirder than what came out in the 70's.

A few years ago these odd rubber boots were pretty popular. People call them duck shoes, and that's as good a name as any. Duck shoes are good at keeping your feet dry on rainy days because they're made out of natural rubber, polyisoprene.

High heels are pretty uncomfortable and hard on the spine. It's a wonder that people even wear them, especially weird-looking ones like this sandal, which is made from leather. Today we can achieve levels of tackiness using natural materials which before would have only been possible using synthetics. Now that's progress!

It's said that Albert Einstein never wore socks, but for those of us who do, we wouldn't have them without polymers like cotton, and synthetics like polyester and nylon. Also, they stay up with the help of elastic thread, which contains another natural polymer, natural rubber.

This elevator boot, made of PVC, is a lot like the ones that the rock band KISS wears in their shows. But, not even KISS's boots are this ugly.

And these Dutch klompen are made of wood, which is another form of cellulose. For your own safety, we recommend that you don't try firewalking while wearing klompen.

Return to Where are Polymers?
Return to Main Page

Copyright © 2003 | Polymer Science Learning Center | Department of Polymer Science | University of Southern Mississippi