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There are plenty of places and people that can use your old shoes if you just know where to look. Usually if your shoes are in decent condition, you can donate them to a thrift store. There are also lots of donation drop-off containers around- have you seen them?
When your shoes are worn out but made with quality materials, you can also try a shoe repair company. It sounds simple, but many people overlook this fact. Maybe it seems “old-fashioned” to go to a cobbler, but they can put a new rubber sole on, etc. If they’re a pair you love, it’s worth a shot to investigate places in your area that repair shoes.
Try using Shoe Goo on old pairs of shoes that have worn out in only some places.
Old Running Shoes
When you’ve done some sole-searching and are ready to give away your shoes, here’s where to donate them:
Run the Planet has a great list of organizations that recycle running shoes and donate them to people in need, both in the U.S. and in various other countries, such as Mexico, Africa, and Morocco.
Recycled Runners has a list of drop off locations- outlet stores, recycling centers and a bunch of Nike factory stores. The old rubber in the shoes can be reused to make athletic flooring and playground surfaces.
Shoes For A Cause
Share Your Soles is a non-profit, charitable place to drop-off your shoes. You can choose from locations in various states, including: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York, and their volunteer network extends beyond that. Look online for helpful guidelines on starting a shoe drive in your own area.
Soles2Souls also provides information on organizing a shoe drive. This non-profit collects shoes and distributes them to people in over one hundred countries. They often help after disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Please check out their FAQ, where you can also find a list of participating locations near you by typing in your zip code. They make it incredibly easy to find a place for individuals to donate to people in need, and shoes that are not wearable will be recycled. If you don’t see a place near you, Soles4Souls says that retailers and businesses sign up voluntarily to be a drop off point, and their site is updated weekly, so don’t give up. Check back regularly, or perhaps become a drop off point yourself or speak to a local shoe retailer in your area about joining up to be one.
Project Sole also provides a great alternative to disposing of extra footwear.
Shoes With Recycled Content
When you’re looking to recycle something, it’s always important to think of the whole loop. When you’re recycling shoes, think about buying your replacement pair from a thrift store or consider shoes with recycled content, like Simple Shoes. Simple Shoes uses recycled tires, cork, organic cotton and recycled PET plastic for their shoes and the boxes they use are made with 100% post-consumer recycled materials.
TOMS Shoes has a unique movement. For every pair of shoes sold, another is given to a child in need, as their business model has incorporated social responsibility. According to their website, over 140,000 pairs of shoes have been given to children around the world so far.
Finally, there are also ways to make a garden planter out of old shoes. If you’re looking for what to do with old sandals, check out our post on recycling sandals and flip-flops and prepare to wiggle those toes in the sun!