As I've shared in a few of my previous posts, my husband and I are trying to make what small changes we can in order to make our lives more sustainable; we aren't in a position for any big changes like solar panels or electric cars, but we want to do what we can! One of our more recent efforts has been figuring out how to dispose of our old shoes.
My husband recently trained for and ran a marathon, and we're both big walkers and hikers besides that. Shoes in our household tend to wear out quickly!
When we feel like a pair of shoes still has some life in it but we personally aren't wearing them anymore, we donate them to a local thrift store or resell them on Poshmark. However, many of our shoes end up worn out to the point that a thrift shop or buyer won't take them, so we recently started looking into additional options.
One of the first options that we found was Ridwell, a specialty recycling company that's based in the PNW, where we live. (If you're interested in learning about Ridwell, you can listen to our Earthkeepers podcast episode here.) However, we don't have a Ridwell box currently, since we live in a condo apartment building and the COA doesn't allow for them.
Next, we looked into GotSneakers. They have a variety of ways to collect and recycle sneakers, including individually, so we registered as individuals to try it out. Once we received our bag in the mail, we put all the shoes that we wanted to recycle in the bag. The website says the bag can fit 10-12 pairs of adult-size shoes. We didn't have that many pairs around that we were getting rid of, so we recruited a few friends to give us sneakers they were no longer using, and sent the bag back to the company once it was full. It took seven pairs of shoes to fill the bag for us, but two of those pairs were large hiking boots. It's free to ship; all I had to do was seal the bag and drop it off at FedEx.
After about two months, I got an email back from them. We saved all seven pairs of shoes from ending up in a landfill, and we got a check for a whopping $1! According to their website, the gently-used shoes that we sent were distributed to secondhand markets, while the heavily used shoes were recycled so the material could be reused. Overall, I could see this service being a great option for fundraising for something like a school or a Girl Scout Troop, but for me and my husband, it probably wasn't worth storing all of the used shoes in our house until we had a full bag.
Next time we have sneakers or hiking boots that are on their last legs, we plan to just bring them to our local running store, which will collect them for donation or recycling. It's worth checking your local sports or activewear stores for similar programs; I discovered that the store that my family in New Jersey shops at does a similar collection program!
Do you recycle shoes in any way? Are there other programs that you know of that I've missed? I'd love to hear from you! You can comment on this post or email me directly at email@example.com.