The Shoe Afterlife

We all have shoes we love and wear down to the sole — literally. Most of us cringe at the thought of throwing shoes, especially those that have served us well, in the trash. But what do you do with shoes that are just too worn out to donate?

Thankfully, there are several options out there to send your solemates into the sustainable shoe afterlife!

Here are 4 things you can do with old shoes:

1. Try Local Textile Recycling. 
For those who live in or near a major metropolitan, do a quick Google search and you can easily find a collection site that has partnered with a local textile recycling company that will utilize as much of the shoe as possible. For example, in NYC, Greenmarkets throughout the city have collections every day of the week in each borough. Wearable Collections, the Greenmarket textile partner, then recycles every single piece of the shoe possible – only scrapping material that is completely unsalvageable. The best part is that these can be any type of shoe.

 2. Check out Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program.
For athletic shoes (minus those with cleats), Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe program that recycles as much of the materials into new Nike Grind products. All you have to do is drop off your shoes at a local Nike store. Nike’s website states that about 71% of the materials used in Nike Grind products (which include not just shoes but apparel too) are recycled through this program.

 3. Repair or Donate.
Maybe you’ve got some dress shoes that you’re worn down and have no genuine desire to re-wear – but they’re not completely bare bones. Bring them to a local cobbler, get them fixed, and donate them to a good cause! If you don’t want to shell out the money to get them fixed, see if your local cobbler has any sort of recycling program themselves.

4. Get Crafty!
Are you a crafty person? Or maybe you’re a gardener. There are dozens of creative ways to reuse your shoes — from planters for succulents to wine holders to unique jewelry displays. Bring out your inner artiste!

So next time you’re swapping out your closet for the season or just clearing out clutter, take a pause before tossing those old shoes and give them the love — and second life — they deserve.

Crafty Shoe Pillow