Sadly, running shoes don’t last forever, as much as we might want to keep our favorite pair forever. If you’ve been running for some time, you might have already worn through your first few running shoes. This begs the question: what are you doing to get rid of them?
If you’re throwing them straight to the bin when you can’t run them anymore, you might miss a golden opportunity to save money or help other people.
They can even contribute to pollution if not handled properly.
So when another pair of running shoes get worn down, think about recycling. But why should you recycle, and where can you do so? This article will discuss where you can best recycle your old running shoes.
Why You Should Recycle Running Shoes
Recycling is pretty straightforward, but not many people do it. The extra steps associated with it can become a hassle for some people, especially if they don’t have the mental space or time to think about recycling.
Nevertheless, recycling is a must for those who can. And for those who are on the fence, these three reasons might help persuade you.
- Helps the planet. Of course, the main benefit of recycling is that it helps reduce the pollutants cycling through your area. The EPA estimates that 13 million tons of clothing and footwear waste last 2018, with only 1.7 million tons recycled. Every little bit of effort helps.
- Saves you money. Running shoes don’t have to be thrown out automatically because you can’t run in them anymore. Most of the time, they still function well as work shoes or casual wear for those who look good enough.
- Helps less fortunate people. Donating running shoes that don’t work for you (but are still good) instead of throwing them in the trash can help less fortunate individuals with their footwear.
The recycling process does add extra steps to our lives, but it contributes to creating an eco-friendly and mindful environment. It might even save you money in the long run!
Where to Recycle Running Shoes
Recycling running shoes is a noble mission, and not everyone is willing to take the time to do it. To make matters worse, running shoes are a little challenging to recycle. This is because they’re made of many different components, and not all of them are recyclable.
Thus, recycling rubber shoes takes more than just a trip to your recycling bin. But fortunately, some places and establishments specialize in recycling your running shoes.
To make it easier for those who want to build such a positive habit, here are the best places you can go to recycle your running shoes.
Your Local Cobbler
Instead of throwing old running shoes away, take them to your local cobbler first!
They specialize in repairing all kinds of shoes and other footwear, so you can save yourself plenty of money simply by booking a trip.
Keep in mind, though; repairing running shoes usually takes a full resole, so don’t expect the same quality from the original’s specialized sole. You also need the top to be in good condition for the running shoes to be repairable.
Nevertheless, if you can find an excellent cobbler, your running shoes will be good as new. You can then reuse it as a running shoe, donate it to family members, or even sell it – just be careful to mention that they’re resolved shoes!
Spearheaded by one of the biggest running shoe companies globally, the Nike Grind program has been around for three decades.
This program is specifically made to fill the shoe recycling niche, where Nike collects running shoes at the end of their lifespan and turns them into renewed materials for partner vendors. They create playgrounds, carpet padding, tracks, and more from recycled materials.
You can participate in the Nike Grind program by dropping off your shoes in any participating Nike outlet stores. They also accept any brand of sneakers, not just Nike.
Also, one of the biggest brands around, Adidas, is championing sustainability with the Give Back Program. This program allows you to send in shoes from every brand, which Adidas will then resell or reuse.
It’s easier to participate since you can just ship your shoes from wherever you are.
The best thing about this program is that you’re rewarded with membership points or vouchers for every pair you repurpose.
Terracycle is a US-based company that specializes in hard-to-recycle products. They cater specifically to shoes and other types of footwear, so if neither of those previously mentioned is an option for you, Terracycle might just be the answer.
With Terracycle, you’re not just limited to running shoes like the Nike or Adidas programs – you can also recycle other types of footwear like flip-flops, formal shoes, hiking shoes, etc.
However, the main disadvantage is that you assume the cost of shipping.
Not just the carrier fees but also the special Terracycle box that they need to come in with. These boxes can be expensive for those who just want to recycle a few things, though it might not be too much if you let others pitch in.
This non-profit organization has a mission of helping other people through recycling clothing and footwear. Soles4Souls collects usable running shoes and all kinds of footwear and apparel and gives them back to those who need them.
Their initiative helps developing countries, disaster relief, and impoverished individuals, according to their website.
You can donate to Soles4Souls by dropping your donations off at specified drop-off locations. They also have a free shipping program with Zappos for Good within the continental US.
You can also donate shoes at One World Running. This non-profit organization collects usable running shoes and other essential goods from developing countries. They also help churches, shelters, and reserves around the continent.
They collect gently used shoes and other athletic goods through drop-off locations or shipping.
Recycling Your Running Shoes
Your running shoes will degrade over time, and before that happens, you need to properly think about how you’re going to dispose of them.
Whether you want them to be repaired, repurposed, or donated, recycling your running shoes is a good way of building a sustainable habit while helping minimize pollution or giving back to those in need.
In this article, we’ve discussed the best places where you can recycle your running shoes: your local cobbler, Nike Grind, Adidas Give Back Program, Terracycle, Soles4Souls, and One World Running.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.