How to recycle shoes | Queen of Green | David Suzuki Foundation
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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Post a comment


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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