How To Recycle Your Shoes!

Sep 11, 2023by Gabby - F&F

More and more, we're finding out new ways to recycle products we use everyday that we didn't know were possible. That includes shoes!

In 2019 alone, 24.3 billion pairs of shoes were made, and the sad reality? Most of them were or will be sent to landfill. Shoe recycling is a great way to avoid chucking out those old or unwanted shoes — but how can we take action? In this blog, we will be sharing what shoes can be recycled, where they can be recycled, along with some upcycling ideas — follow along!

Converse Shoes

Image: Canva

What Shoes Can Be Recycled?

The great news is, most shoes can be recycled. What you have to look out for however, is what you can and cannot recycle depending on the recycling service itself.

Nike and similar programs for example, only recycle athletic sneakers, some brands will recycle just their own brand shoes, whilst other programs like Terracycle have more flexibility with different shoe types. 

Once you've got all that packed down, you will have to factor in the conditions of your shoes too. Some programs are willing to take shoes in any condition, whilst donation stations will want them in relatively good condition, so they can be reused by someone else.

It's important to note, that even sustainable shoes that are made from upcycled and recycled materials, still need to be recycled responsibly. Here at F&F we sell the Vegan Birkenstocks brand, who encourage you to repair (with their services) your broken or worn out shoes, instead of throwing them out. Did you know, if your repair your shoes 7-10 times, they'll last you 30 years? How cool is that!

How To Recycle Shoes

Learning how to recycle your shoes is important, because even the best quality shoes will eventually wear out and knowing what action to take when that happens, makes a difference. 

If you live in the UK, you can take your old shoes to just about any recycling centre! In Colorado, Runners Roost takes any old shoes and either recycles them into tracks and playgrounds or donates to homeless communities. You can drop these off at any Runners Roost location. Got Sneakers is a great one, as it looks at sending shoes around the world, where shoes aren't accessible. Whilst they prefer gently used shoes, they will still accept unusable ones to recycle. 

As mentioned above. Nike has a shoe recycling program, but it's limited to athletic shoe types (it can be from any brand). They have started to put drop boxes in store, to make it easier for people to dispose. Nike then turns your worn out shoes into playgrounds, turf fields or a share station. Pretty cool right?

Lastly, Terracycle will let you recycle any shoe — as long as you have a shoe and footwear box. A small box costs $129 and a large costs $274. Whilst it sounds a lot, it's a price we're happy to pay, if it means helping the planet! And of course you can donate shoes to your local charity or try reselling them too.

Old Shoe Planters

Image: Canva

Upcycle & DIY Shoe Ideas

If you're like us, we love having a go at upcycling first before recycling! A popular idea is using old shoes as pot planters. To do this, you could either add rocks to the bottom of the shoe or drill some holes in at the bottom to help with drainage, then pop your fave plants in. 

Other ideas include:

  • Hanging Shoe Jewellery Rack
  • High Heel Ring Rack
  • Baby Shoe Pin Cushion
  • Shoe Birdhouse
  • Shoe iPad Stand
  • High Heel Coat Rack
  • Upside Down Shoe Stepping Stones

We absolutely love these ideas, they are super creative and we think they add a level of uniqueness to a home. 

Whilst we hope to see biodegradable shoes come to life in the future, we're happy to be provided with these options, which help prevent waste, now! 

So what are you waiting for, this guide is a shoe-in! Let us know how you'll be recycling or upcycling your shoes in the comments below. 

If you love fashion, but have started to be more eco conscious about the clothes that you wear, make sure to check out our Eco News category and the tips below!

Wear Now & Resell Later To Keep Clothing Out Of Landfill — With Airrobe

Sydney's 'Trashionista' Creates Couture From Marine Debris

France's New Anti-Waste Law Prohibits Unused Goods From Being Thrown Away Or Destroyed

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