Do Just One Thing: Give Old Shoes New Life (Aug 2018)

by Holly Hummel

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw “away” over 300 million pairs of shoes each year. These shoes end up in landfills, where they can take 30 to 40 years to decompose.

If you have gently used shoes, you might consider donating them to Goodwill or to the Salvation Army.

Another option for doing some global good is by donating gently used shoes or clothing comes through a partnership between Zappos and Tennesse based Soles4Souls, which has collected more than 30 million pairs of shoes since 2006 and distributed them to children in need from 127 countries. Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes, even flip-flops and dance shoes, as long as they are new or gently worn. Zappos provides free shipping for up to 50 pounds of new or gently used shoes or clothing! Here’s a link to the Zappos site.

See what they’re doing around the US to help out families in need:

Soles4Souls Video

If your athletic shoes are just plain worn-out, you have a wonderful local option of recycling them with Nike. Nike has had a Reuse-A-Shoe program since the 1990s in which they have collected worn-out athletic shoes and salvaged materials to make Nike Grind, which is composed of nearly every part of an old running shoe: rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole and fabric from the upper. Nike Grind also contains pre-consumer material, including manufacturing scraps and shoes with manufacturing defects.

“The recycled shoes are given new life,” says Simon Lofts, director of Nike Inc. Sustainable Business & Innovation. “They are reborn into sports and playground surfaces around the world.” These surfaces range from neighborhood playgrounds to professional athletic surfaces for the NFL and MLB.