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Written by: Chris Fry
Our footwear goes through a lot. It literally supports us through work, recreation, daily walks, hiking, athletics, and more. As much as we’d love our favorite shoes to last forever, this isn’t our reality.
Eventually, the time comes to say goodbye to your favorite shoes. However, there are much better options for your old sneakers than throwing them in the trash. This adds to the waste in landfills and can deprive the world of restored footwear. Kizik is going to highlight a few different ways to give your old shoes new life below.
When it comes to old shoes, you have more options than you think. For example, it never hurts to keep an old pair for working or getting dirty. However, even these only last so long, and require extra storage space.
There are three main things you can do with your shoes:
These three options all take different approaches to reusing your old footwear. However, they all have the same final results: Fewer shoes winding up in landfills and a smaller environmental impact from the creation of new materials. Most importantly, it also will lead to more shoes winding up in the hands of people who need them most.
Having this goal in mind is a good thing, but it’s no use if you can’t finda place to recycle. Below, we’re highlighting a couple of the companies dedicated to restoring old footwear and giving it new life.
When it comes to recycling shoes, there are many options to choose from. TerraCycle recycles shoes, as well as various other items. They often operate in collaboration with other companies at the trash-creating company’s expense. Because of this, they recycle everything from sauce packets to children’s toys.
To use TerraCycle, all you need to do is go to their website and select the shoe that resembles yours. They will send a box to your door that you can use to send your shoes back immediately. Another benefit of TerraCycle is that once you start using it, you will notice them everywhere. This is because daily items that can be TerraCycled often have their distinctive, infinity logo on their packaging.
With some partner programs, TerraCycle has a limited pool they can recycle from. Fortunately, if they don’t accept a particular garment, there are plenty of other recycling options.
The American Textile Recycling Service is a national organization dedicated to recycling textiles of all types. This includes the textiles found in footwear. If they don’t have a local bin, you can often find local recycling groups.
Recycling is just one way to reuse shoes. Upcycling takes textiles and uses them to create something new. Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program is one of the most prevalent upcycling programs in footwear, so it may be worth donating your worn-out shoes.
To engage in this practice, all you have to do is drop your old shoes at a participating Nike store. As the largest sportswear retailer, odds are that you’re never too far away from one.
The Reuse-a-shoe program utilizes both well-worn shoes and unused fabric textiles. This helps to eliminate waste and extend the life of your shoes.
Nike’s devotion in this regard is admirable, which is just one reason that our team here at Kizik is happy to be associated with them. This unity creates the perfect balance, providing both performance shoes and recycled sneakers with Nike, and accessible footwear through Kizik.
If you have a pair of shoes that you don’t want to part with, you can also extend their life. Upgrading and repairing your shoes can be a great way to revitalize old footwear.
TevaForever is a company partnered with TerraCycle that works specifically with sandals. They turn old sandals into playgrounds and tracks to provide new places for adults to run and kids to play.
Repair is also always an option. Leather shoes and heels can easily be re-soled depending on design specifics. However, replacing rubberized shoes and athletic ones can be more difficult. This is also a problem as shoes with rubber soles last for decades before decomposing.
When your shoes are still in fairly good condition, donation may be the best option. Donating your shoesensures other people have a chance to use them.
Leather shoes, if properly handled and re-soled, can last for numerous years. Children's shoes, due to the cost and changing size, are also always an essential item. Donating either of these two items is the best way to put your no-longer-used shoes to use.
Soles4Souls is one way in which one can help fight for justice worldwide. The organization accepts both clothing and footwear and distributes them to nonprofits in over 100 countries worldwide.
These nonprofit organizations then either donate the shoes or provide them to local small-business owners. This both provides affordable footwear in disproportionately affected communities, and helps to support local businesses.
You could also donate kids’ shoes to Sal’s Shoes. Kids, unfortunately, often outgrow their shoes way before they outlast them. Sal’s Shoes is exclusively focused on gathering donated kids' footwear and redistributing it. To date, they have successfully distributed millions of kids' shoes to countries around the world.
There are also many local drives specific to your community that you can donate old shoes to. These can be especially impactful if they target poverty within your community. These sorts of drives are often run by churches, schools, and local nonprofits.
Be sure to check the standards for each group you want to donate to. In the case of Soles4Souls, even low-quality shoes are recycled, but this isn’t always the case.
Reusing old shoes is a good thing to do, both for your community and the environment at large. The athletic footwear market is increasing every year, meaning greater consumption of footwear every year. If we don’t act to make use of our footwear, it can end really poorly.
Shoes made from natural materials like cotton, leather, and other textiles can take anywhere from 25-80 years to decompose. That figure seems like nothing compared to how long synthetic fabrics take.
Some synthetic materials can take an estimated 1,000 years to fully degrade. Considering how popular rubber is for soles, it’s important these shoes don’t end up in landfills. Recycling, upcycling, or donating your shoes can have seriously positive environmental benefits.
Reusing your old shoes isn’t just about the environment, though. It can also help people around the world.
Our shoes have longer lifespans than we often give them credit for. To that end, it’s extremely possible for our shoes to be donated and distributed worldwide. Organizations exist that turn old shoes into new ones and give used pieces to people who need them.
These missions create real, wonderful change in the world.
The question isn’t why reusing old shoes matters, or why we should recycle them whenever we have the option. The real question is why wouldn’t you reuse your old shoes?
You can recycle your footwear, turning it into something new, whether that’s a new pair of shoes or something entirely different. You can donate your shoes, and see that they are used to their fullest potential.
The options of what to do with your used shoes are truly limitless. Plus, the more people recycle, the easier it becomes. The next time you buy new shoes, be sure to recycle them when you’re done.Sources:
Written By: Chris Fry
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