How To Recycle Your Old Shoes (and why it's a no brainer)

How To Recycle Your Old Shoes (and why it's a no brainer)

Recover Brands Recover Brands
4 minute read

Have an old pair of running shoes that have run their last mile or that favorite pair of sneakers that are starting to shred?  For shoes that aren’t fit to go to Goodwill or a second-hand store for continued use, don’t just go for dumping them in the trash- there are now easy options to recycle your old shoes.

WHY you want to recycle your old shoes…

24.2 billion pairs of shoes were produced by manufacturers worldwide in 2018, but in the U.S. alone, Americans throw away 300 million pairs of shoes every year.  So, why is this a problem?  Many shoe soles contain Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, a type of plastic that can take over 1,000 years to decompose and releases chemicals while doing so.  Not to mention, it’s always worth considering the materials that go into all of these shoes people are buying and throwing out- everything on our planet is limited, and if we keep endlessly using resources and just dumping them, we are most certainly going to run out.


Easy Ways to Recycle Your Old Shoes


  • Shoe Recycle Programs at Local Shops

Ask about a shoe recycling program at your local running store.  Run For Your Life and our other local running stores in Charlotte will take your running shoes that may have reached their lifespan in the case of your performance running, but would still have life left in them for the day to day of someone else. Shops donate them to people in need of shoes. This is a great system because it takes out shipping components and related carbon-emissions.

  • Got Sneakers?

Got Sneakers is a recycling shoe organization with the mission to inspire the sneaker community to recycle and re-use quality pre-owned sneakers. Blown away by the stat that many people throw away their shoes after only 125-200 days of use, Got Sneakers is changing the way things work. Shoe recycling is free and they’ll even pay you to do it.  They work with individuals, groups, and businesses to keep shoes out of the landfill, help combat global warming, and keep toxic chemicals out of our air and soil. So go ahead, get sustainable and get paid to clean out your closet!


  • Reuse-A-Shoe Program

Ask about a local Reuse-A-Shoe Program in your local stores, and if any store has one, you can easily drop your shoes off to be recycled.  Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe Program in which you can bring in any brand of shoe and they will give it new life and recycle it. Nike and other Reuse-A-Shoe programs are working to make it easy for materials to live on from one product to the next.


  • Terracycle

You can purchase a Zero Waste Box from Terracycle, and they will wholly recycle your old shoes.  Terracycle is rooted in the foundation that nearly everything we could think about throwing out can actually be recycled.  Revolutionizing the idea of waste, Terracycle is working to divert millions of pounds of valuable resources from landfills into upcycled materials- working for a system in which resources are able to be endlessly re-used instead of thrown out.

Other considerations…

If your shoes are in good enough condition to take to a second-hand store, do it… your lightly used kicks may be someone else’s next fave. There’s also options to get creative and reuse shoes in your own home decorating, everything from a high heel coat hanger to a running shoe bird feeder has been done.


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