Gone to landfills everywhere. Each year more than 350 million pairs of shoes are discarded, according to the statistics on one charity’s website. Why? Probably because most people do not know what to do with used shoes.
The first thing to know: All shoes are recyclable.
When shoes are discarded, they are incinerated, releasing harmful dioxins into the atmosphere. So donating them is kinder to the environment.
Shoes can be donated to most large charities that collect clothing, they can be donated to non-profit organizations that specialize in sending shoes to those in need, or they can be given to companies that recycle the materials to create new products.
Here is a list of charities and organizations that accept donations of shoes and either send them to people in need or recycle their component parts.
Many of the Crocs stores will accept donations of gently used Crocs and send to Souls4Souls to be cleaned and donated to those in need.
Donate Your Old Shoes http://donateyouroldshoes.org/
This non-profit collects shoes (that are dropped off or mailed in) and puts them “on the shoeless worldwide” by including them in shipments made by other humanitarian organizations.
Nike Reuse-A-Shoe http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/
Since 1990, Nike’s reuse program takes worn out athletic shoes from any manufacturer, separates the components and turns the materials into new sports surfaces.
Okabashi Recycling Program http://www.okabashi.com/Recycle/b/2493603011
This manufacturer of flip flops and other plastic footwear welcomes returns of its used footwear, which it grinds up and uses in producing new products, in a closed-loop recycling process.
One World Running http://oneworldrunning.com/drop-off-locations/
An international program that provides running shoes to those in need in the U.S. and around the world.
A service that will pick up shoes and clothes (and household goods), generating funds for programs provided by the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Recycled Runners http://www.recycledrunners.com/
This program has an online recycling and donation directory for local and international recycling programs. Fill in a city or town and find nearby drop-off sites.
Run the Planet Shoes Recycling Program http://www.runtheplanet.com/shoes/selection/recycle.asp
This online running shoe store has compiled a list of more than a dozen shoe recycling programs around the world.
Share Your Soles http://shareyoursoles.org/
This charity gives away shoes in a way that respects and honors the dignity of those who receive them. The gently used shoes are sanitized and polished before donation. Drop off locations are mostly in the Chicago area.
Shoes for the Cure http://shoesforthecure.com/
A professional recycling company specializing in recycling shoes sets up bins, reconditions the shoes for those in need or recycles the materials, and donates the proceeds to local hospitals.
This charity collects used shoes and donates them to those in need around the world, from homeless shelters in the U.S. to orphanages in Africa.
Let’s keep our shoes out of the landfill and where they belong – on people’s feet.
≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.
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