| June 26, 2021
By Trevor Mah
Read time: 3 min.
One of the most exciting things in life is breaking in a new pair of shoes for the first time. Whether it is going for your first run or breaking them in while you lift, that new shoe feeling feels great on the feet. Unfortunately, most good things must come to an end and eventually your shoes will wear out to a point where they are no longer useful.
Instead of throwing them out, many companies are now offering recycling programs as part of their own green initiative to reduce waste and energy. Synthetic materials that make up shoes are now shifting towards recycled materials as major shoe manufacturers aim to reduce their impact on the environment. Here are a few current programs worth taking a note as you look to unload your closet of old shoes.
Nike has a mission for a zero carbon and waste footprint with their environmental and sustainability initiatives. Their Reuse-A-Shoe program allows you to drop off used shoes (not just Nike of course) at many of its participating stores. From there, they have a unique solution for the recycled material as the shoes enter their Grind program where Recycle old shoes are, unsurprisingly, grinded down to be used for playing fields from basketball courts, running tracks, artificial turf fields, and more. These materials are also used in future products as well as store mannequins and shelving in their stores.
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TerraCycle is a popular social enterprise that aims to eliminate the idea of waste. They are known for their innovative solutions to recycle items normally not deemed to be recyclable. They offer Zero Waste Boxes that you can order, pack up your recycle old shoes, and send back with their prepaid label provided to you. Once received, they will go through the separation of materials and work on solutions.
Technically, you are paying for the box (starting at $129 USD) so the idea may not be appealing (so you are also paying for the return shipping label), but their catch-all approach can help you declutter your shoe collection. This idea may be better deemed for your local gym to pitch in for, or to go in with a group of your gym buddies.
At the moment, this box is available in the USA which you can find available here. Check out the rest of their website for more information in your region if it is available, or for their other options.
These last two options are tied together as both companies work together. Soles4Souls takes your donated shoes in order to reduce waste to protect the planet, or provide lightly-used shoes to those in need. Their mission is all about turning shoes and clothing into opportunities. Many communities and other companies also have a working relationship with them as well. Check out your local area to see if their recycling programs work with Soles4Souls. For example, those in the YEG region can check out the following options in Strathcona County here.
The North Face and their Clothes The Loop program provides you with an opportunity to recycle your old footwear and apparel along with a reward towards your next purchase from them. The shoes in particular go straight to their partner, Soles4Souls. To learn more about their program and to find the closest location near your, click here.
These are but a few programs you can consider the next time you plan on purging your closet of old shoes. Be sure to check out local options if none of the above are available to you. Many of the major brands are also creating new or existing lines of their shoes with 100% recycled material, so be on the lookout for them on your next trip to the store.
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