Do you have unused or worn-out shoes you don't know what to do with? Maybe your closet is overflowing with five-year-old shoes that you never wear. Or perhaps your dog mistook your boot for a chew toy. Maybe you're super active and have worn out your most reliable pair of sneakers.
We've all been there. At some point, it's time to stop hoarding your old shoes and send them on to the next stage in their lifecycle.
You might be wondering, "What do I do with my shoes when I'm done with them?" The answer is simple — you recycle them!
Unfortunately, many people don't realize that your shoes can absolutely be recycled and just toss them in the garbage. While this may seem the most natural thing to do, throwing out your unwanted shoes adds to landfills where they'll take several hundred years to break down.
It is imperative to properly dispose of those old sneakers, even if they look like they are completely trashed. There is no reason to pollute our vulnerable planet any further, especially when there are many opportunities to recycle your shoes.
There are loads of alternatives for your shoes' next life cycle steps instead of being thrown out. Keep reading to learn all about the various avenues you can take to recycle your old kicks and pick which method works best for you!
Donate Your Shoes
One of the best options for recycling your shoes is to donate them to the nonprofit Soles4Souls. This is a fantastic option, as the Soles4Souls prioritizes our planet and helps people who are experiencing poverty.
Many people don't have the luxury to buy shoes, let alone have an opportunity to recycle an old, forgotten pair. Soles4Souls provides people with shoes and other clothes, which is just one step towards helping them fight and escape poverty.
Supporting this nonprofit is also crucial because they also help people in developing countries launch small businesses by selling the donated shoes they receive. This nonprofit has a lot of heart and does so much good for humanity and the Earth's well-being.
As long as the shoes you want to donate to Soles4Souls are in decent condition, you are strongly encouraged to donate and help fellow people who are in vulnerable situations, A great bonus is that this minimizes the pollution of landfills.
Where Can I Donate?
If you are interested in donating your gently worn shoes to this worthy cause, you can ship them for free using Zappos for Good. The information necessary to ship your shoes is available directly on the Soles4Souls website.
You can also drop your shoes off at a drop location near you. Just insert your location on Soles4Souls, and you can see a list of available drop locations nearest you.
Typically, many commercial shoe sellers will have a drop location in their store, so the next time you stop to browse for fresh kicks, remember to ask an employee if you can drop your used shoes there!
Similar Organizations To Consider
Soles4Souls is an incredible nonprofit organization that does important work, and thankfully they are not alone! Numerous other organizations and big-name retailers have programs in place for people looking to recycle their old shoes to come in and donate them.
If you have a pair of athletic shoes that you are ready to retire, you can donate them to a number of organizations that reuse old athletic shoes. Many stores accept donations, and it's a proactive way to ensure your old running sneakers don't take up unnecessary space in a landfill. Instead, they can be properly recycled through programs like these.
There are many opportunities all around you to donate your shoes and see that they get properly recycled or donated for a good cause. It is sustainable, and it is convenient. Just pop into the local store of any large shoe retailer, and we can guarantee that they will either accept your shoe donation there or be able to point you in the right direction.
These organizations ensure that your old clothes and shoes have an afterlife or at the very least get disposed of properly. Donating your old shoes is a great way to give back to your community and give back to the planet.
If you need to get rid of your shoes, but prioritize convenience, drop boxes are your new best friend.
Drop boxes are yet another means of donating old clothes that you no longer want or need, and it requires nothing more than a quick trip to your local dropbox location.
You might find such drop box locations near your local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores, both of which accept donations in person.
If you are located in a bigger city, like NYC, Atlanta, or Chicago., drop boxes are often scattered around your city. All you need to do is make a quick google search, and you can locate the nearest drop location to you.
Drop boxes make recycling your shoes as simple as possible. It requires virtually no effort to do good for the environment.
See Your Local Shoe Maker
Shoemakers, or cobblers, as they are historically called, are a great and underrated option for recycling your old shoes.
Shoemaking in general, is a widely underrated craft, with origins going back to ancient and medieval times. A trip to your local cobbler might even allow you to keep your favorite pair of boots for longer since they can also fix them up for you.
Much like how you can take your shoes to shoe retailers, your local cobbler might also be interested in your old kicks. They can use them for their own personal craftiness or properly dispose of them themselves.
Cobblers can always benefit from having more materials to work with. Your old pair of leather boots or even sustainable comfort knit sneakers might contain fabrics and parts that can help your local shoemaker in their business.
Whether you spare your shoes from the landfill by having a shoemaker repair a damaged favorite, or you want to donate to them, it's a great way to help the environment, as well as support a local business!
Upcycle Your Shoes
If you have too damaged shoes to donate and you don't know what to do with them, you can try upcycling.
Upcycling is a very straightforward concept; you simply create something new out of something old. This is an eco-friendly alternative to tossing your shoes in the trash and can even be fun!
Anyone with a knack for all things DIY, artists, or creatives looking for unique outlets for creating something cool, don't have to look further than their own closet. For instance, maybe you have a leather boot that has seen its last days. Take the leather from the shoe and repurpose it.
You can even take an old high heel or old sneaker and repurpose it as a planter! You can let your imagination and creativity run wild when it comes to upcycling your shoes. It is a fun but meaningful activity.
No matter what you create, you are actively contributing to the betterment of the planet and are leading a sustainable life when you upcycle your old shoes.
Sell Your Shoes
If you need to make some space in your closet and could stand to earn a few extra bucks, you can always try selling your shoes.
With so many online outlets to promote your old clothing and local stores that accept second-hand clothes and shoes in exchange for money, you have many opportunities to make a profit on your shoes. It would be a shame to throw away perfectly good shoes, so why not save the planet and make a little extra cash at the same time?
We have all been in situations where we buy shoes a little out of our comfort zone but swear we're going to wear them. Then they just for them to sit in the back of our closet until the end of time. That is the perfect opportunity to resell them. It allows someone else to enjoy them, helps build up your bank account, and protects the environment from further pollution!
It's crucial to keep shoes out of landfills for as long as possible, and reselling and re-homing old and forgotten shoes is a wonderful way to protect our planet.
Recycle Your Shoes, Protect The Planet
Whatever means you choose to recycle or repurpose your old shoes, you are helping to protect our planet from the threat of pollution. Shoes don't need to rot in landfills. Whether you donate them to someone in need, take a trip to your local cobbler, or sell them, you're creating a better environment for future generations.
Recycling your shoes is simple, and it has never been easier with this guide.
And for fashionable, comfy shoes that start eco-friendly, try KOKOLU's comfort knit sneakers. These shoes are created with style and comfort first in mind. It's just a nice plus that they're made with recycled materials.
How Shoes are Made | The History of Shoemaking
The Global Afterlife of Your Donated Clothes: Parallels | NPR