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You probably already know that there are tons of everyday items that spend decades if not hundreds of years breaking down in landfills. You would hate to contribute to that, which makes you wonder if you can recycle your shoes. I dug deep into this matter to bring you the answer.
Can shoes be recycled? Fact is, there are many recycling programs that accept your old shoes. These programs may be brand-specific, such as ASICS or Nike, or nonprofit programs that are willing to take your shoes and make them into something fantastic.
You may have some further questions about recycling your shoes. For instance, what kind of condition do your shoes need to be in for recycling? What do those old sneakers become after you give them away? Let me explain and answer those burning questions.
What Shoe Recycling Programs Are Out There?
Not sure where to even start if you want to recycle your shoes? Here’s a clue: there are tons of programs that accept your old sneaks. Some of them are even nonprofits!
Here’s an overview of some programs you might be interested in giving to.
Are you a big ASICS fan? Here’s your chance to give back to the shoe brand. Not only does their i:Collect program take your shoes, but old clothes from the brand, too.
ASICS asks that the shoes are in “clean, dry condition.” You can find their i:Collect Recycle Bin at any ASICS store that’s a part of the program. To donate, you just drop your shoes off and that’s it. How easy!
One more thing: there’s something in it for you, too! When you recycle, you get an ASICS reward coupon. Yes, you can save money and help the environment.
It truly doesn’t get better than that.
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe Program
More of a Nike girl? You have to try their Reuse-a-Shoe Program for recycling your old kicks.
Like ASICS i:Collect program, you simply visit your local Nike store and drop your shoes off. Here’s more: Reuse-a-Shoe will take practically any sneaker from any brand, even if it’s not Nike. You cannot bring boots, dress shoes, or sandals, though.
Although it’s not tied to a specific shoe brand, Soles4Souls is another great option I think you should consider. A Nashville, Tennessee non-profit, Soles4Souls takes clothing and shoes and provides them to those less fortunate. Everyone deserves a pair of shoes, after all.
Are you considering donating to Soles4Souls? Then your shoes should be in good condition. The less you wore them, the better.
What Kind of Condition Do Your Shoes Need to be in for Recycling?
Does it only cross your mind to recycle your shoes after they’re already pretty beat up? That’s okay, as most programs will still take them.
The least you can do before dropping off old sneakers is clean them up. Wipe them down, removing surface dirt and other messes. If you can, scrub out stains. Your old shoes will never be in pristine condition again, but this is close enough for most programs.
Remember: not all programs want your old shoes. Some of them, like Souls4Souls, prefer your shoes to be as close to new as possible. If you have very old shoes you’d like to donate, maybe try Nike or ASICS instead.
How to Recycle Your Shoes
Okay, now let’s get down to business. Your shoes are about as clean as you can get them, and you’re ready for the next steps. How do you recycle your shoes?
Easy! If you want to give your old sneakers to Nike or ASICS, then you can stop by their respective stores. Nike asks you call the store in question before you visit. This way, you can be sure you can donate your shoes to that particular store.
ASICS has nine stores that accept donated sneakers for their I:Collect program. These stores are in:
- Citadel, Los Angeles, California
- Jersey Shore, New Jersey
- Palm Beach, Florida
- Woodbury, New York
- Castle Rock, Colorado
- Livermore, California
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Allen, Texas
- Cabazon, California
Can’t find any Nike stores near you? No problem! According to Recycle Nation, Nike has a recycling facility in Memphis where you can mail your old sneakers. Considering that Souls4Shoes is in nearby Nashville, you have plenty of donation options.
What Becomes of Recycled Shoes?
You want to do your part for the environment by donating your sneakers. You can’t help but be curious then about what happens to your shoes after you drop them off in a recycling bin.
The answer is: many things! Listen, my friend, you’ve already done the right thing by recycling. Now you can see the fruits of your labor, so to speak.
When Nike receives worn-down sneakers, they toss the footwear into a grinding machine. There, the shoes break down into fibers that can be reused to furnish athletic fields.
ASICS will take old clothes and shoes and repurpose them into other clothing, toy stuffing, carpet padding, and insulation fibers.
This New Atlas article outlines the fate of other recycled shoes. First, they get their eyelets and other metal parts taken out. Then, like with Nike, the shoes go through a shredder and a granulator.
Next, the resulting fragments go one of three places: vibrating tables, zigzag separation, or cyclonic separation. The vibrating table separates fragments by size using vibrations. Zigzag separation involves using several sloping platforms and air gusts to divide heavier fragments from lighter ones. Finally, cyclonic separation uses a cylindrical chamber with a vortex to separate fragments by weight.
Fragments will next be organized into rubber, foam, or leather categories. If it’s rubber, your old shoes can become new shoe soles or even playground surfacing material. Foam is reused as carpet underlays while leather goes into bonded leather.
So remember, no matter where you take your shoes to be recycled, they’re being used for bigger and better things!
Can You Recycle Old Shoes for Money? ASICS gives you discounts for recycling shoes, but can you make any actual money? The fact is – it depends. There are services like Cash4Shooz where you can pocket some cash for donating. That said, the program is centered around schools.
Still curious if you can make some moolah by recycling? It’s better to ask your recycling program of choice for a concrete answer.
What Else Can You Do with Beat-up Shoes? Is recycling not an option for any reason? You can still make great things out of old, worn shoes.
You can use sneakers as part of birdhouses, vases, picture frames, bookends, iPad covers, sofa cushions, and just about anything else your crafty mind can come up with. Here are some cool upcycling ideas to get you started.
How to Find a Shoe Recycle Bin Near You? Looking for a shoe recycle bin near you? There are plenty of ways to find one.
Let me show you how. You can start by doing a simple online search for “recycle shoes near me.” If you have location services turned on, the search engine will pick up on your location automatically. Otherwise, you can search for recycle centers in your area specifically.
You can also call stores like Nike or ASICS and ask where the closet recycling bin is. If there aren’t any in your area, don’t despair. Look up local shoe collection and recycling organizations or non-profits and donate!