The 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Running Shoes.
More than 24.2 billion pairs of shoes were produced in 2018, and this figure continues to grow in present times. Most of them tossed into the incinerator or landfills. But temptation is hard to resist. I know all too well how innocent window shopping in Nike can lead to shopaholic thoughts. But we’re here to teach you environment friendly habits.
Sick of Old Running Shoes? Don’t Throw Them Out Just Yet!
If you suffer from chronic attachment issues to all your belongings, I know this can’t be an easy decision. Those shoes have lived their best life. The natural response is to toss them in the garbage, but that’s not a saving-the-earth attitude. The materials in your old running shoes contain plastic elements that take much longer to decompose than the average human life.
Imagine your old running shoes sitting in a garbage disposal site awaiting incineration. The excitement you felt about buying new shoes has now changed into thoughts of abandoning them. Instead, leave them in a better hands, or even better, donate them so they can live a second life!
These Old Kicks Need a Shoe Doctor
Before contemplating to recycle running shoes, why not reuse a shoe? Take your old pair of shoes to a trusty shoe doctor or cobbler and trust the masters of the shoe industry. You would be surprised what new soles or laces can do for those sneakers. Take Nike’s reuse-a-shoe program, return those babies back to their makers for a new life through Nike Grind. This commendable effort is part of their move-to-zero initiative (zero carbon and zero waste). Nike recognized the mass scale demand for athletic sneakers from consumers globally and addressed the need for sustainable fashion with their unique shoe recycling program.
For many of us, going to the shoe doctor is no biggie- my parents would often send torn sneakers to be repaired. Same went for our old school bags. Why not continue this practice?
What to Do if You Cant Go Out
If you’re stuck in lock-down and can’t find any open cobbler stores, try finding an online shoe repair service like My Shoe Hospital, NuShoe or CobblerConcierge. These professionals just about provide every element to revamping old shoes- shampooing and reconditioning, full resoles and even changing colour! Not only is this service more budget friendly, but you’re becoming a real savior of the environment. Instead of jumping on the brand bandwagon, you could take a page out of the DIY youtubers book and restyle those bland Air Force sneakers.
The Conundrum of Donating: Does it Add Or Reduce Material Waste?
There is no questioning the goodwill of donating your old runners or dress shoes to a charitable organization, hoping to cover the feet of less privileged members of society. However, these shoes soon find their way into third world markets. Charities sell 25% of what we donate from a shoe drive and export the rest.
‘There is greater supply than there is demand’, says Liz Ricketts, co founder of the OR Foundation, a non-profit that studies the second hand market in Ghana. In her experience, about 40% ends up in a landfill or thrown in the fire. Then what difference lies between you throwing shoes out or sending them to be disposed in another location?
Lets discuss ways to repair and resell your athletic shoes or high heels so they may find a new pair of feet.
Reaping Rewards of Social Media: Thrift Stores, Resellers & More
Here’s another way to participate in footwear recycling, and earn dollars: the thrift store. One man’s trash is another man’s gold. The rise of online thrift stores has encouraged the resale of pre-loved items. Sites like TheRealReal, Depop or sneaker trading brand such as Fight Club, StockX and Soles4Souls, give you the chance to list your worn out pair for resale.
Training full time as an athlete really leaves you no choice but to discard worn out shoes to protect your feet. A professional ballerina can go through 100-120 pairs of pointe shoes in one season. A runner can keep different shoes depending on their training program.
In the past, brands greedily fed off of this and targeted their audience with marketing tactics to make you visit the nearest retail store in search of the trendy shoes. Those days are quickly becoming of the past, with brands now conscious of their carbon footprint.
Reducing the Global Carbon Footprint: Brands Follow Suit to Nike’s Reuse A Shoe Initiative
Earth day contributions are made annually by ‘woke’ brands (the same ones that run gay pride ads only in June). But the organizations focused on creating sustainable impact rather than social media events are the true game-changers.
Levi’s initiated the Water<Less campaign to reduce water scarcity. A collaboration between I:CO (a shoe recycling plant) and Adidas as partners to convert rubber soles from old shoes into carpet padding. Similarly, Terracycle (New Jersey based recycling organization) can benefit from a shoe-drive to collect waste material needed to create furniture.
You as a conscious buyer can choose to support monetary-wise, products like Nike’s Trash Talk shoe which uses scrap-ground foam.
We’ve Equipped You With the Right Information: Recycle Running Shoes Wisely
This really is a new way of life. Its integrating minimalism in you. Instead of buying a new pair of athletic shoes, consider recycling your old pair first. Assess how to elongate their lifespan, or which hands can best repair them for reuse. Maybe pass them down to your family members? Being the youngest meant hand-me-downs came first before new clothes- I plan to carry the tradition on.
Your last resource should be to access a website for resale. Let those clothing items find use in another person. And don’t forget to research the best nonprofit to fulfill the charitable needs in your community!