In the past, when shoes became unwearable, they were thrown away or taken to the landfill where they added to the existing piles. Today, recycling is a friendlier solution for getting rid of worn-out footwear. Not only does this create a cleaner environment, but the components produced through recycling can be used to create new products. This process prevents landfill overflow and creates an atmosphere of stewardship and sharing among societies. How do people get started?

Shoes 1

The easiest way to recycle footwear is through a program like Nike’s ReUse a Shoe, which breaks them down and uses the resulting nylon, rubber, and foam to create products like Nike Grind, a component in athletic mats, or even new footwear to donate to others. Nike’s website lists over 200 drop-off locations around the world where people can bring athletic shoes and LIVESTRONG wristbands to be recycled or donated.

Shoes 2

While Nike focuses mainly on preserving a trash-free environment, other programs such as Crocs Cares, Soles4Souls, and the Cinderella Project focus on donating. These organizations collect worn Crocs, athletic footwear, and high heels to donate to impoverished communities across the globe. For example, Crocs Cares donates Crocs to developing nations to prevent the spread of disease; the Cinderella Project donates formal evening wear and accessories to teenagers who cannot afford them for proms and formal dances. Websites for each of these groups list locations and contact information for donating gently used pieces.

Finally, for those who wish to recycle within their local communities, Recyclerfinder.com provides a free application for computers and mobile devices so people can search for nearby facilities. Plenty of options exist for turning shoes into usable materials or for donating them to a worthy cause, both of which keep them out of the landfill and on people’s feet where they belong.

Find places to recycle shoes at http://www.recyclerfinder.com.

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