Shoes of all kinds are typically destined for the landfill. But there are at least five ways you can recycle them!
If your shoes still have life in them
Running Free has already diverted over 100,000 pairs of used shoes from Ontario landfills. Their Re-Use Shoe Program collects used footwear from six locations in the Greater Toronto Area and sends them to Haiti, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Cuba, Bolivia and throughout Canada. Those sent to Haiti, for example, become a part of a micro credit loan program that reduces dependence and promotes economic development in the region. (All that from your old shoes!)
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Shoe4Africa (@Shoe4Africa) asks you to mail running shoes or soccer cleats to Africa to prevent hookworm and help people adopt a healthy lifestyle. This is not about dumping our castoffs. Shoes need to have at least another 160 kilometres of running still left in them — each recipient runs a footrace before receiving a pair.
Soles4Souls (@Soles4Souls) is a global not-for-profit fighting poverty from Nashville, Tennessee. They collect used (and new) shoes to distribute to people in need and support micro-enterprise programs that create jobs in struggling communities. Donate at a drop-off location or host your own shoe drive!
If your shoes are really done
Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program (@Nike) has already collected over 25 million pairs of donated running shoes and turned them into some 30,000 tonnes of Nike GrindTM, a new material used for surfacing tennis courts, tracks and sports fields. I'm making calls now to find out how you can take part!
What do you do with your old shoes?
Written with research assistance from David Suzuki Foundation volunteer Inderjit Deogun.
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green