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8 Greatest Tips on How To Recycle Shoes – All You Need to Know!

a heap of old used shoes

Shoes are a long-term investment, but they are prone to gradual wear and tear. You may see their color or leather fading away even if they are in one piece. At this stage, many people toss their shoes in the back of the closet and get a new pair. But unfortunately, it clutters up your wardrobe.

If you aren’t prepared to let go of your shoes, you can recycle them instead of throwing them in the trash. You can give your shoes away for a good cause, and many states in the U.S. have recycling programs that accept old but wearable shoes. You can also donate your old shoes to charitable organizations that provide footwear to needy people.

Recycling your shoes is an excellent way to declutter your space and give back to the community. Here are eight tips on how to recycle shoes:

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The 8 Greatest Tips for Recycling Shoes

1. Prepare Your Shoes for Recycling

old pair of white canvas shoes
Image Credit: Nqobile Vundla, Unsplash

Whether you’re giving away clothes, shoes, or cardboard boxes, you must follow specific requirements to submit them to a recycling facility. Many recycling programs and states have different rules, so always look them up on the internet before getting started.

After that, pick the shoes you want to recycle. They could be the trainers that no longer fit you or heels that you’ve gotten tired of. Finally, separate the shoes from the huge pile, so you can work on them without getting confused.

Now, tie the pair of shoes together with the laces tightly. If your shoes don’t have laces, you can secure them with rubber bands. Also, if you suspect moisture in your shoes, dry them before recycling or donating them.

2. Find a Recycling Program

It’s always a good move to search for different recycling programs in your town before choosing one. You will find many independent and nationally-sponsored recycling programs, such as Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe initiative. You can drop off your shoes at any local Nike store and get them recycled.

Adidas also accepts in-person shoe drop-offs for recycling at all of its stores. If any store refuses to take your old shoes, you can mail them to another branch’s address.

Most recycling programs also offer free pick-up services, saving you from unnecessary hard work.

3. Donate To a Good Cause

a person holding a sign for donations
Image Credit: Julia M Cameron, Pexels

If your shoes are in a wearable condition, why not make someone happy with them? Many charitable organizations and donation drives collect old shoes, repurpose them, and distribute them among needy people.

It’s better to choose the nearest drop-off location, call them, and ask which shoes they accept. Unfortunately, some programs don’t take specific shoes, especially winter boots, flip-flops, and roller skates.

Some colleges also work with nationally-sponsored programs, including Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, to recycle old shoes and donate them to the needy. You can check your institution’s website to see if any such opportunity is available.

Your city may also have boxes or bins where you can submit your shoes for donation. If you can’t find any such program in your area, you can collaborate with a charity and host a shoe drive in your area.

4. Find Textile Recycling Programs for Damaged Shoes

You can’t donate or recycle your old shoes if they are too damaged to be worn again. But still, don’t throw them in the garbage; they can be salvaged for their textile materials. Several textile recycling programs accept worn-out shoes, separate the materials, and reuse them for other purposes.

So set your shoes aside and search for such programs in your city. You’ll find a new home for your beloved footwear.

5. Repurpose Your Shoes

hand-painted old white canvas shoes
Image Credit: kaboompics, Pixabay

This tip is especially helpful if you want to repurpose your formal, expensive shoes. Depending on the type and material of your footwear, you can try adding different patterns with acrylic paints.

For example, you can turn old wedges into classy, bright shoes to flaunt in the summer. Remember to seal the paint with a protective topcoat if you’re working with leather or a similar material.

6. Make Shoe Planters

If you have a knack for creativity, you can make beautiful shoe planters for your garden. All you have to do is gather quality soil and fertilizers and fill your shoes with them.

Sneakers are ideal, but high heels and boots also make great planters. But first, you must take care of a few things to make the planters look good.

Be sure to coordinate the plants with the shoe’s height. For instance, taller succulents look good in boots, while flowering seeds grow better in your pumps. You can also complement your plants with different colors of shoes, such as roses in red shoes and sunflowers in yellow boots.

7. Restore Your Running Shoes

close up shoes of a person on stairs
Image Credit: SJ 📸, Unsplash

You can restore your running shoes by giving them better traction. For this tip, you’d need 10 hex-shaped, sharp screws about ½ inch in length.

You don’t have to follow any specific method when inserting the screws. Just ensure that they are evenly apart and spread out. Now, drive the screws into the flexible part of the shoe’s bottom till only their flat ends are visible. The hex shape of the screw will provide the right amount of traction.

8. Use the Shoes as Containers

If you have small baby shoes, you can recycle them and use them as containers for different purposes. For example, you can stick your sewing supplies in the shoes, including the pin cushion or scissors.

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Recycling your old stuff helps you declutter your home and allows you to do something good for the community. So, whether you’re bored of your heels, sneakers, or winter boots, you can donate them to recycling programs for a good cause.

Be sure to search for a good and reputable recycling or donation program. It will ensure that your shoes will go to deserving individuals. You can also repurpose your shoes; sneakers make great planters and storage containers!

Featured Image Credit: Jakob Owens, Unsplash


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