Happy International Recycling Day! 5 ways to recycle your shoes

After billions of steps, your favourite pair of shoes gets finally ready for retirement. The question is now “How to give a second life to them?“. Here are 5 ways to recycle your shoes.

1- Repair

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Go to the nearest cobbler and check if your shoes can get resoled, if the heels can get fixed, if the zipper can get changed… in other words, if your shoes can follow you for few extra miles. Warning, resoling shoes can make then a bit stiff.

2- Recycle

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Let’s face it, shoes are very tricky to recycle as they are made of varied materials as fabrics, leather, plastics, wood, metals…

If your shoes are still in good shape, donate them to Goodwill or Thrift shop so they can find a new owner.

If your shoes are a hopeless case, contact your local recycling companies and drop them in dedicated containers. Your shoes will be then transformed in varied products used for instance for house isolation or floor coverings. As an example, Nike has created a recycling programme called “Nike Reuse-a-Shoe” which turns old trainers into new apparels or surfaces like running tracks or tennis courts.

Researchers from the Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre, led by Professor Shahin Rahimifard in the UK, are currently “looking at improving recycling processes required to achieve a vision of ‘zero waste to landfill’ in the footwear sector“.

3- Reuse

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Turn your shoes into a plant pot to instantly provide a vintage vibe to your garden!

4- Return

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Already mentioned in our Upcycled/recycled fashion post, few Ethical Shoe Brands offer to return your tired shoes so you can get a discount for your next purchase. In this way, the brands get involved in the entire process, from the production to the recycling – as it is the case for the US company Jack The Fifth.

5- Plant

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The Dutch brand OAT created the first biodegradable sneakers and baby shoes that grow flowers and trees when you plant them in the ground. The shoes are made with natural, biodegradable materials like flax, hemp and ecological cotton. Seeds provided!

Image source: OAT

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