How to Go Green How to Recycle Shoes

Your old shoes can be recycled in a variety of ways either to needy people in your community or to some of the poorest people around the world and even as raw materials to be used in making recycled rubber flooring and cushioning.

Have closets full of old shoes that are a bit too beat up for you to wear, but not quite old enough to throw away? Consider recycling your shoes, turning your waste into something that is useful for another person! There are a few different types of places you can recycle your shoes to, and this article will point you to a couple resources for each type.

Recycling Shoes in your Community

Unless you live in a really ritzy area, my guess is that there are plenty of people in your community who would be thrilled to have your old shoes. You can donate your recycled shoes to these people in a variety of ways, including the Salvation Army, local clothes closets, and through homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Do a search on the Internet in your area, and you are sure to turn up some facilities that accept and distribute used shoes.

Recycling Shoes around the World

A couple years ago, I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua, where we worked alongside the locals building churches in some of the poorest communities I have ever seen. Each person on my trip brought a pair of old work shoes, and by the end of the week, we had each found a local who wore our shoe size and was thrilled to receive our work shoes. If you aren't going on a trip, contact some local churches to see if they are going anytime soon and could take some of your old shoes with them to give away.

Another option for your running shoes is to pick a program through the listing on and contact them to see how they can accept donations of running shoes. These organizations have much larger distribution networks than your local church would have.

Recycling Shoes as Raw Materials

Nike has a large recycling program called Reuse-A-Shoe that turns athletic shoes into three distinct types of materials that can then be reused as flooring and cushioning in many athletic situations. The map on the right side of the website allows you to find the closest recycling center, or if necessary, you can mail shoes to them.