Last updated on October 25th, 2018 at 09:38 am
Many people ask us the same question: can I recycle shoes? The answer is yes! There are a wide variety of reasons why throwing away our old and unwanted shoes isn’t very good for the shoes or the planet. There are also a lot of reasons why donating old shoes to charities and countries that are less fortunate is a wonderful thing. Did you know that there are enough unused shoes in UK households to stretch around the world? A study by Oxfam found just that, each of us has on average 7 unused pairs of shoes each. We’ll help you to learn how to recycle them so they’re put to good use.
Recycling your old shoes isn’t that complicated and it can be very beneficial, so it’s worth taking a moment or two to understand how you can make a difference with your old shoes.
Why Recycle Shoes?
There are lots and lots of benefits when it comes to recycling your old shoes, for one, it reduces solid waste in landfills while reducing carbon footprint. Recycling your shoes can also benefit charities and countries that aren’t so fortunate.
When you make the choice to recycle your shoes, you’re not only converting waste products but you can also convert them into value-added products and help to create economic development around the world.
Every one of us has an impact when it comes to the world, and donating just one pair of shoes can provide protection, prevent injuries and help someone make a living.
How To Recycle Shoes
Sometimes we love shoes so much we wear them until the sole is worn through. When this happens, they are defined as unwearable. Instead of throwing these shoes away, you can still donate them, and the textile parts of the shoe will be made into something more useful.
Some sportswear companies collect old athletic shoes in any state that will then be made into either basketball or tennis courts or running tracks. These shoes can go on neighbourhood playgrounds or big, professional surfaces. There is a Reuse-A-Shoe programme for this, these are events that are put up often, usually by schools or sports teams. You can organise one yourself in your area or you can post your shoes to recycling location if there are no events near you.
Most brands of trainers can be donated although, there are certain guidelines for this. The shoes are then sent to a processing centre where they are sorted and separated. Altogether, a basketball or tennis court can contain around 2,500 unwanted shoes and a running track can contain up to 75,000 recycled shoes. These shoes would otherwise have been sent to a landfill to take many years to degrade and while doing that could be harming the planet. Instead, they are providing another use and giving to the less fortunate.
Recycling Shoes For Charity
Wearable shoes that are in good condition can easily be resold at charity shops, and the charity will be thankful for your donation. Some local Charites actively collect footwear, you can find more details of these online. These charities will usually send the donated shoes to poorer countries.
Charities will accept all types of shoes as long as they are wearable. Donating your old shoes to the less fortunate will not only benefit them, but also the landfills that are homes to unwanted shoes. Shoes usually take quite a few years to decompose, running shoes, for example can take up to 1000 years to break down. The oldest shoe that has been found is 5,500 years old. When breaking down, organic shoe materials such as leather release a harmful greenhouse gas called methane, and this gas contributes to climate change. Therefore, throwing away our unwanted shoes will not help the climate change problem to go away but recycling them will reduce the negative environmental impact.
There are tons of different charities that send unwanted shoes to countries that need them. These shoes will also boost income for shoe resellers and shoe repairers as well as being affordable and available for locals. Providing shoes to the less fortunate also helps with the 24% of the global population that are infected with soil transmitted infections that can easily be prevented by covering the feet.
Here at Shoe Zone, we actively encourage shoe recycling. We work in partnership with BBC Children In Need to collect unwanted shoes from our customers and send them where they are needed. We also raise money for this wonderful charity by offering Pudsey slippers that will be available on our website and in our stores.
If you’re simply bored of your old shoes, there are lots of fun and simple ways to upcycle them into something a bit different. From crocheting a whole new design to making a slight difference by painting your shoes, the scale of upcycling project you choose to take on is up to you.
If you have an old pair of canvas shoes that are ready for a change, try painting them. You can do this with sharpies or fabric paint, choose a pattern and recreate it on your own shoes. Or let your hands go free! This is also easily done with your heels and it can make a drastic difference.
If you have that one pair of heels that you absolutely adore but are a little scruffy now, we’ve got you. To spruce them up, you can use sequins, glitter, jewels or rhinestones. Add a layer of PVA glue onto your shoe then add your choice of bling. You might want to do section by section as the PVA glue can dry relatively quickly. You’ll need to leave this to dry for about 12 hours. If you want a little more pizzazz, try adding your bling onto a piece of lace, or fabric that is cut down to the shape of your shoes. Then add the fabric on to the shoe using PVA glue.
There are a lot of people who are helped by shoe donations and a lot to achieve when you make the choice to make better use of your unwanted shoes. A large percentage of the global population are still suffering with soil transmitted infections because they do not have shoes to protect themselves from these infections. You have the power to help, by offering your shoes to charities who help those in need. Next time you’re finished with a pair of shoes, make a smart choice and you could make a difference.