Shoe Recycling Guide: Recycle Your Footwear Responsibly
The United States of America has the largest footwear market in the world, so it makes sense that this is a multi-billion dollar industry. The shoe industry revenue was over 91 billion in 2019.
Did you ever wonder what happens to these billions of shoes that are produced every year? Experts say most of these end up in a landfill.
The average time in which a shoe decomposes is 40 years. This is especially troublesome as old shoes can leach toxic chemicals into the ground.
But, it doesnt have to be this way. There are much better ways in which we can dispose of old kicks.
Today Ill talk about all the shoe recycling ways in which we can help other people and our planet, and maybe even earn some money.
How To Recycle And Donate Old Shoes
Here are the best options for recycling shoes or donating shoes to keep them out of landfill.
You’ll find plenty of options for recycling, donating and reusing ALL types of shoes including sneakers, high heels, work boots, and even single shoes, saving them from the trash.
Unwanted shoes, worn out sneakers, work boots, pumps that have seen better days, plus shoes that maybe never fitted quite right or were only worn once for a special event.
We are probably all guilty of hanging on to more shoes than we want or need and the statistics on shoes heading to landfill are astounding and they can take 30-40 years to breakdown.
According to this article, Americans throw away 300 million pairs of shoes a year and Australians are probably not far behind.
We tend to hear a lot about fast fashion and it’s impacts on the environment but not so much about our shoe obsessions.
With the emergence of online shoe stores and great bargains over the past several years, this has only increased the amount of shoes sold each year…..and sadly, most people are collecting them or throwing them out.
I hunted around quite a bit to try and find useful resources to deal with all our outgrown kids shoes, completely wrecked and unwearable shoes along with poor fitting or no longer loved shoes.
We aren’t exactly big shoe collectors and are pretty minimal in this area, but there is a time when repairing or donating old shoes is simply not an option.
What Are Shoes Made From
Shoes are made from a lot of different types of materials, including many types of plastics. They mainly use:
- natural fibers like cotton and wool
- synthetic textiles like polyester and nylon
- foam plastics
There are two main parts of a shoe, the upper and the sole. The upper is the top of the shoe that holds your foot. Its usually made from fabric or leather but can also be a mix of materials. E.g., athletic runners typically have many different parts and types of materials for the uppers of their shoes.
The sole is the bottom of the shoe. Its often made from rubber or plastics like polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride . The sole of a shoe can also be complex, with different plastics and rubber used in shoes like sneakers.
There is a lot more to a shoe than this simple overview, so if you want to find out more, head over to The Anatomy of an Athletic Shoe.
Don’t Miss: How Much Does It Cost To Ship Shoes
How To Dispose Of Old Shoes 5 Easy Ways
Youve got a ratty pair of sneakers that have been sitting at the back of your closet for years.
You keep telling yourself youll get rid of them, but every time you take them out and hold them above the trash bin, you start to wonder if you really are just supposed to throw them out.
Is there a better solution, a better way to get rid of shoes?
As it turns out, there are many better ways. Heres how to dispose of old shoes the right way.
How To Recycle Running Shoes
Despite being seemingly simple, run shoes are difficult to recycle. Each pair has a combination of rubber, foam, fiber, leather, glue, textiles, or even metal, but not every shoe has the same exact type and percentage of materials, nor are all the pieces typically recyclable.
As for where to start, though, look to the Nike Grind program, which accepts footwear . For three decades, the initiative has transformed end-of-life footwear into materials for a range of products from the rubber in Lyft Bikeshare stations to turf fields, playgrounds, carpet padding, and outdoor tracks. Any runner can take advantage of recycling any brand of athletic sneaker via the program by dropping off the footwear at a participating Nike retail store. Footwear that can be refurbished is sanitized and sold at a discount, too.
Similarly, Adidas has a Give Back program in which you can send shoes in any condition, and from any brand, in a box with a prepaid label. The company will then resell or reuse the gear. Those who donate also get membership points or brand vouchers.
Terracycle, a U.S.-based recycling company that specializes in unique, hard-to-recycle waste programs, also has an option for shoes and footwear. Though the box you buy is pricey, the company takes care of everything after that initial paymentthat means shipping and getting rid of your gear in an earth-friendly way.
Don’t Miss: Steel Toe Vans Shoes
Is It Worth Donating Old Shoes
Donating shoes is 100% worth it! Your shoes will go to someone who will need them the most and, trust me, you’ll feel great about it. You probably already thought about doing this since not every shoe you have in your closet has been terribly worn out, there are some that just need a good wash and that’s about it. That’s when they become someone else’s treasure!
“But where can I donate my shoes?” you may ask. Good news for shoe lovers: there are many places across Canada that accept shoe donations!
One of them is Shoe Bank Canada, a non-profit social enterprise that has a clear mission: to ensure that every Canadian has access to a decent pair of shoes.
The best thing about them is that they promote two types of donations: the standard ones, in which you simply collect the shoes you have at home and take them to one of their drop-off locations, and other ones they call “shoe drive“. If you want to host a shoe drive, it basically consists of asking your community to collect gently worn, used and new of all types and sizes, gathering them, and delivering or shipping them to one of the Shoe Bank Canada drop-off locations. Just like they state on their website, it’s a fun and simple way to engage your team or organization to give back and make a difference.
Another excellent non-profit for donating shoes is Soles4Souls, one that is so transparent that you can even meet their team and find out how they manage their finances by just clicking on their website!
How To Reuse Old Shoes
One word: upcycling. If you’re like me and love to revamp things, upcycling is your way to go. Just give your chucks a new pair of laces, decorate your worn Vans with fabric paint, or even venture to mend the hole in your slippers get creative!
You can also try to turn shoes you no longer want to wear into something completely new. For example, if your shoes are too worn down for mending and decoration, just put soil in them and add any plant you’d like. If you’ve ever watched Wall-E, seeing your little plant inside a boot will remind you of that great movie.
If you have a lot of leather shoes or boots, another DIY project you can do is stitched pillows or even a traveller’s journal/sketchbook, but as I always say, upcycling doesn’t have to be labour-intensive. You can simply fill closed shoes with sand to turn them into unique door stops or hang work boots in trees so that birds can have a new home. You know what they say, the most sustainable thing you can do is make the most out of what youve already got!
You May Like: How Do You Clean Hey Dudes
How To Properly Recycle Your Sneakers
Your favorite pair of sneakers have grown tired. They fit you like a glove and have accompanied you on nearly every adventure , so it can feel like a shame to toss your old kicks aside after all those years.
Thankfully, there are many ways to give your old pair of runners a new life.
You dont have to doom your faithful pair of athletic sneakers to a life in the landfill. Instead, there are some better ways to extend the duration of your running shoes and reduce your carbon footprint. Wondering how to recycle shoes? This shoe recycling guide will tell you everything you need to know about ways to recycle sneakers, ensuring your runners can continue to live on for years to come.
How Do You Dispose Of Old Pair Of Shoes
If your shoes are beyond saving, one way to dispose of them is to avoid the common three-bin residential waste collection, and simply aim for the trash. I know, it’s hard for me to even write this.
If you live in Calgary, you may be able to drop them off at one of the city’s Throw ‘N’ Go bins, but I advise you to first assess whether they will accept them or not. No matter how hard we try, there are times when there’s not much that can be done, and that’s okay. The important thing is that we first try as many eco-alternatives as possible!
Bonus tip: To prevent your shoes from reaching the maximum state of decomposition, consider taking care of them as much as possible. Store them in a well-ventilated place, dry them thoroughly if they got wet, wash them as soon as possible if you soaked them in a puddle of dirty water, clean them with the right products for each material, don’t leave them sitting in the sun for days, and if they start to smell a bit bad, put an unused black tea bag in each shoe and leave them there for a few days. Believe me, giving a little love to your shoes is more than enough.
Don’t Miss: What Shoe Stores Do Raffles
When Should You Throw Away A Pair Of Shoes
Ok so, your shoes are completely destroyed and you’ve had them for so long that they look like mummies of their former selves… What can you do? If neither donating, recycling nor upcycle is an option, then I’m afraid it may be time to throw away those old shoes.
However, the only instance in which you should throw them away is if they are rotten inside with a foul smell if they have irreparable damage because your dog thought it was a chew toy, or something similar. In most cases, you can always save an old shoe from ending up in a landfill, but if it meets those conditions, it’s a dead giveaway to throw in the towel.
Can I Recycle Old Shoes
Recycling your old shoes is as easy as it is beneficial. There are several ways to do this, including:
- Taking them to your local charity shop, who will be able to pass them on for repair and further use.
- Use a shoe bank or shoe recycle bin so that the textile parts of the shoe can be used to make something useful. These can be found at your local recycling centre and at many supermarkets.
Also Check: How Much Does It Cost To Ship Boots
Local Programs That Reuse Running Shoes
Runners Roost stores, throughout the Denver area, receive nearly 5,000 shoes donated annually. Their 10 storefronts have provided a used footwear drop-off for at least 12 years, estimates Kent Wories, the general manager of Runners Roost. The grassroots program has evolved over time, based on the needs of partner organizations such as the Denver Rescue Mission, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Catholic Charities of Denver, which select and funnel the footwear to people in need.
The shape of the donated shoes runs the full gamut from you can hardly tell it was used to pretty beat up. Close to half of the shoes are definitely in good reusable condition, says Wories. Footwear that needs refurbishment before being donated for reuse goes to Soles4Souls, while others go to One World Running.
Other run retailers nationwide collect footwear for similar nonprofit efforts. Charm City Run, which has six retail locations around Maryland and organizes nearly 100 annual endurance events, launched the Live. Give. Run. Foundation, in 2020, a nonprofit that channels footwear donations to folks in need.
Philadelphia Runner, in Pennsylvania, hosts shoe drive fundraisers to provide gently used and new footwear to Sneakers4Funds, a program that serves athletic communities across the nation, which kicks back a check for the fundraiser cause in exchange for the goods.
The Benefits Of Recycling Your Shoes
Every year, 24.2 billion pairs of shoes are made globally. And because of the large number of products being produced, a majority of that material finds its way to the landfill. Although your shoes contain natural materials, they also contain plastic which could take hundreds of years to break down.
Your urge to not throw out your pair of shoes is likely saving them from decades spent sitting in a landfill. This, in turn, saves the surrounding groundwater from plasticizers and toxic chemicals that your shoes can leak.3
When done properly, recycling your shoes can help:2
- Save closet space Instead of letting your old shoes gather dust in your closet. You can recycle them so that they get more use. They take up less space and can be utilized for a better purpose.
- Protect the environment By giving your shoes to a recycling program, you prevent them from inevitably ending up in the landfill, where they can decompose and leak chemicals. In turn, they can be reused to promote eco friendly fitness.
- Provide new materials Sneakers contain a variety of useful materials like rubber, fabric, foam, and leather. When you provide these materials, youre saving the carbon emission that wouldve been required to make them from scratch.
Also Check: How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes
Programs That Recirculate Run Apparel
With collection bins around New York City Wearable Collections provides a range of services for textile recycling from shredding to placement in second-hand markets. Close to 50 percent of the collected items are reusable, 26 percent get shredded for other use such as insulation, 20 percent of the items get turned into rags, and 4 percent is totally non-recyclable, reports the organization.
To support a program that keeps run apparel out of the landfill, check out the Renewal Workshop, an apparel restoration program for the discarded clothing of partner brands, such as Champion Made and Vuori.
Adidas also just announced a recycled collection, called Nothing Left Behind, made from gear donated from their pros and staffers, in collaboration with the Renewal Workshop.
How the Renewal Workshop process works: A waterless cleaning technology sanitizes textiles followed by repair work thats certified before returning to the market with a co-branded tag. If apparel cant be repairedlike replacing a zipper or stitching a seamthe company either upcycles the textile, such as using a jacket to create a tote, or recycles the material, meaning the product is broken down . Recycled textiles can be used in other products, such as the textiles in a vehicle, or as raw material for a new garment altogether.
New Metro Van Recycling Centre Opens Monday March 14
- The Coquitlam Recycling and Waste Centre located at 1200 United Boulevard will close Saturday, March 12 at 6 p.m.
- There will be no service available on Sunday, March 13.
- Metro Vancouvers new United Boulevard Recycling and Waste Centre opens Monday, Mar. 14 at 995 United Blvd., a kilometre west of the current Coquitlam Recycling and Waste Centre.
Read Also: Do You Wear Socks With Bobs
Recycled Shoes You Can Buy Now
If youre looking to buy new shoes, you also have the option to go for a pair thats already made of recycled materials.
To help deal with the waste from footwear, Salomon recently launched a recyclable run shoe, the Index.01, and free-of-charge recycling collection after wear-and-tear of the shoe. Shifting to a circular production model, On Running likewise debuted a recyclable running shoe, the Cyclon, thats subscription basedthat means the brand replaces up to two pairs per year and recycles the old pairs into new versions.
A circular model means that we design products that have long-lasting value and can be remanufactured in addition to being reused or repaired, says On Running head of innovation business strategy, Francois-Xavier Dosne.
To achieve the innovation, the biggest challenge was determining the right materials without sacrificing quality or performance. Dosne says, This shoes upper knit is built from a 100 percent bio-based material derived from castor beans, a material that took our team years to find.
Can You Recycle Shoes 4 Climate
Sneaker drop offs, upcycling, and more: How to green your next Spring Clean.
Do some good for the Earth and your community the next time you clean out your closet.
There are four excellent ways to recycle your old shoes for the better:
Here is how to do it â no matter where you are.
How to resell old shoes:
That pair of shoes in the back of your closet that you never actually wear deserve a new, better life.
Whether you bought them on a whim and then realized they are not your style, or if they never quite fit right, someone out there might appreciate them enough to pay for them.
Thrift stores and consignment shops assess clothes and shoes brought in for resale, offering the seller a price to take the items off their hands. To get started, look up your nearest thrift store on TheThriftShopper.com for stores near you. If you like near a Buffalo Exchange, which has stores throughout the United States, it could also be a good option.
If you do not have a store near you that buys back old shoes, you can also try selling them online.
Websites like ThredUP, Poshmark, or ,the OG, eBay act like marketplaces for buying and selling used clothes, shoes, jewelry, and home goods. Some sellers will even offer trades â one pair of used kicks for another. Who doesnât love a good digital barter?
How to donate old shoes:
If your sneakers are not in good-enough shape to resell, then donate them to your nearest shelter or non-profit store.
How to recycle old shoes:
Don’t Miss: Hey Dude Shoes Replacement Laces