Photo: How to recycle shoes

Runners, sneakers or tennis shoes — no matter what you call them — don't send them to the landfill. (Credit: Stacy Geisberger)

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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Running Room Canada Inc. (@RunningRoom) donates wearable running shoes in good condition to people who need them. All stores accept donations year-round.

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

July 28, 2014

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Apr 23, 2017
9:07 AM

FYI, I called the Nike store in the Toronto Eaton Centre today and they confirmed that they accept old sneakers for recycling. I’m so happy! Not sure if Nike accepts shoes at all of their stores but worth a call to check.

Mar 03, 2017
8:29 PM

recycled anything I think is fantastic I do recycle and if I can do more with shoes of any kind or clothing or anything really that’s recyclable sure will,batteries do I live here in a little town in Abitibi Quebec can or would you know of any places that take more or less anything,i have always contributed in anything when it comes to giving to the needy environment if I know what what ,any info for me please do.

Mar 16, 2016
12:21 PM

Nike had discontinued their shoe recycling program (at least in the Vancouver area). I tried to drop off at their store in Metrotown and they no longer accept them as of Dec 2015. It is surely disappointing. Anyone aware of similar programs?

Jan 14, 2016
1:25 PM

I was ecstatic to hear about the Nike recycling program — but I believe it is only applicable for the US. If there is further information about this — would really appreciate it (especially for shoe recycling programs for Vancouver).

Sep 08, 2015
5:33 PM

Hello, Thank you for your blog. It is very insightful.

I run an organization called Chance to Play where we collect gently used and new soccer uniforms, cleats and soccer balls from Canadian soccer clubs. The donations are redistribute soccer programs that works on basic soccer skills, leadership and mentoring and coaching skills that provides an avenue to keep children and youth off the streets, out of gangs, and in school. My website is Anita

Apr 26, 2015
10:22 AM

I would confirm Brenda Oslawsky’s comment that Nike’s Re-Use a Show website still doesn’t provide helpful information about how to donate your shoes. I’ve posted on their facebook page for more information.

Apr 26, 2015
10:21 AM

I have a pair of shoes that are so smelly and well-used that I would not want to inflict them on anyone, but I would love them to be recycled/re-manufactured. I live in the west end of Toronto and can’t seem to find anywhere local to recycle them (lots of broken internet links, for example). Could you help? I’m willing to mail them within Canada, more hesitant to send much further.

Aug 19, 2014
12:37 AM

WOW!! Good Information and a fantastic article. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumble upon) actually, was searching to Buy footwear online but found even a greater thing then that. I have book marked it for later!

Aug 06, 2014
4:02 PM

If you are looking to recycle other items like clothing, sunglasses, watches and cellphones with free shipping included, check out!

Aug 06, 2014
2:17 PM

The Nike Re-Use a Shoe program looks interesting but when you go to Nike’s site via your link, there is no information telling you how to donate your shoes. I tried a number of links on Nikes website that were broken. I will also email them about the problem.

Aug 06, 2014
1:46 PM

I would love to recycle my shoes but it sounds pretty impossible! I always use my shoes until they are worn out, and the Nike program sounds like it’s only for running shoes. Not sure. I couldn’t really find the information about how to send in my shoes.

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