6 Great Ways to Recycle Your Old Running Shoes!
I consider to be myself an environmentally conscientious person who tries hard to make choices that will ensure my personal impact on the planet is light. One way I can tread more softly is by keeping trash out of the landfill. Certainly, some things need to end up in the garbage. However, too often we throw things away instead of searching for other options.
1. How Do I Dispose Of Old Shoes?
Sadly, we often just look at things that no longer have use to us and pitch them into the trash. With a pair of running or walking shoes getting roughly 350 miles out of them, a runner could end up going through many pairs in one year’s time.
Now many of us wear our shoes for running and then when the time comes to retire, we relegate them to another task. Mine often become shoes I wear casually to work on “jeans Fridays.” After shoes have outlived their life there, I use them for gardening or hauling firewood.
Sometimes I keep a pair of old running shoes around for a random mud run or for trail runs in yucky weather. That way, I am not trashing a newer pair of shoes.
By the time I am actually “done” with a pair of shoes, they are pretty torn, tattered, and with very little tread on the soles. I have to say, I typically get my use out of them.
But even then, should they hit the trash? You may be surprised to hear that there are many ways to dispose of old shoes.
2. Where To Donate Old Shoes
There are many places to donate gently used shoes that most people are familiar with. These are businesses such as Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul. Places like this take gently used items and sell them in a storefront.
How can you decide if they should be donated to a place like this? Ask yourself if the shoes appear to still have life in them. Certainly, if your shoes are not worn out mileage-wise, they should be donated.
I have been in that position. A fancy new pair of shoes catches your eye. You love the look, but not how they make your feet feel. After some running in them you recognize that they aren’t quite right for your feet, but after spending good money on them…. it is painful not to see someone enjoy them.
Donating shoes like this to a place where local community members can go, browse the shelves, and get a perfectly good pair of shoes for a fraction of what new shoes cost, is a win-win for everyone.
For someone who is lacking a pair of tennis shoes, your old kicks are in great shape for that person. Many sources say runners are way too quick to deem their old shoes useless when, in actuality, they have a lot of great hours on them for someone in need.
3. Reaching Out To Local Running Clubs
If the same scenario described above applies to you and your shoes, you can also reach out to a local running club. I have multiple groups on social media. Frequently I see a post that describes a pair of shoes and says that they are “looking for a good home.”
Often runners will find themselves in a quandary of having a fairly new pair of shoes that are not working for them. Reaching out to running people to offer them up either cheap or free is a great way to help out a fellow athlete.
4. Recycling Running Shoes
Sometimes when you are looking to recycle running shoes, you may literally mean recycle them. Are you wondering where to recycle old shoes? Did you know that old sneaks can be turned into other items?
One company that does this is TerraCycle. Although there is a fee to recycle items like shoes with TerraCycle, many people feel that is a small price to pay to have less of an impact on the planet.
Nike has a recycling program as part of their Move to Zero movement. Nike Grind is a program where the shoes are ground into a basketball court or playground surfaces. And Nike is not just committed to recycling its own product. They will accept any athletic shoe as part of their recycling program.
5. Up Cycle Old Runners!
Sneakers4Funds is another company that recycles running shoes by getting them to someone in need. This program not only does not cost you to participate, but they also pay you to collect the shoes. Unlike local donation sites such as the ones mentioned before, these shoes often go to very underprivileged and underserved areas.
Companies like Got Sneakers also pay people to host shoe drives where people can drop off their used shoes. You read that correctly. You host drives. You collect shoes. Got Sneakers pays you. As if that is. not already a win-win, you also know that fewer shoes are ending up in the landfill.
As an avid runner, you likely take things like your running gear for granted. At least, I know I do. There are companies out there like One World Running that collects all kinds of used running equipment to send them to athletes in underprivileged areas.
Shoes that seem to be out of wear for us will have plenty of life for someone who simply has no equipment. Check out this amazing group for information on sending any kind of athletic equipment.
6. Try Out Cyclon: They’ll Swap Your Old Shoes
All of these companies and ideas mentioned in this article are things I have heard about and am pretty familiar with. After all, I have been in this running gig for quite some time. I was surprised to hear about a company called Cyclon. Cyclon has a plan to produce 100% recyclable and sustainable shoes.
Okay so hang with me for a second. If you have a subscription to Cyclon, you are never asking yourself how to recycle old shoes. Why? Because you don’t ever actually own these shoes. You pay for a monthly subscription and they send you a pair of running shoes. When those are worn out, you send them back to Cyclon and they send you a new pair.
They estimate that you will wear a pair of their shoes for roughly 6 months and then will swap them for a new pair. They are not sure exactly how long because they plan to launch this new concept in the fall of 2021. They are just now in the phase where they are registering people to be part of the sustainability solution.
And did I mention that these shoes are made out of beans? Seriously. You just have to check this out.
Choose YOUR Option
With so many options out there, suffice it to say that we can all be part of ensuring that our shoes don’t just keep ending up in the landfill. Be part of the solution, friends.
After all, runners should, by the very nature of what we do, tread softly upon the planet.