Photo: Courtesy of strengthrunning.com
After 500 miles of running through rain, snow, rocky trails, and sandy beaches the time has come to say farewell to your old running partner for a newer one. They’re looking rather worn. That smooth cushioning sole is shot, no longer offering you protection against injuries. Sadly enough, it’s hard to get rid of your favorite pair. Unwilling to part with memories of many runs, you store them in a box somewhere in the closet with last years. Or place them in the corner as a token of miles you’ve accomplished. Closet space is spare. You can’t continue to store them. God, forbid they’re thrown into the trash, eventually, ending up in landfills releasing harmful methane gas (greenhouse gas) into the environment and contributing to climate change. The material running shoes consists of takes years to decompose. So there’s a better solution than throwing them in the garbage—recycling.
Photo: Courtesy of MOREFoundation.org
There are several nonprofit organizations created to recycle or donate old running shoes to the needy. Technological innovations have made it possible to recycle footwear material and reprocess them into various materials for playgrounds, footpaths, and running tracks. Shoes that are still in decent shape have been donated to those in need around the world. Several of the most prominent nonprofit organizations are listed below with contact information and their websites.
Heart and Sole
Provides new and gently used shoes to the poorest of the world’s people. Since the project began in 1999, more than 6,000 pairs of shoes have been shipped around the world.
Hope Runs is a nonprofit group working in Kenya and Tanzania, using athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. They accept donations, including running shoes.
MORE is a Delaware-based non-profit that recycles and repurposes used athletic shoes to fight poverty, hunger, and global warming.
Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program grinds old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces.
Phone: (800) 344-6453.
One World Running
Since 1986, a group of runners in Boulder, Colorado, has collected, washed, and sent new and “near-new” athletic shoes along with other athletic equipment to Third World countries.
Phone: (720) 304-2878
Planet Aid collects and recycles textiles to protect the environment, reduce waste, and increase the efficient use of vital resources. Proceeds from donations of clothing and footwear go toward funding sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Running Wild running store collects slightly used running shoes to distribute to youths in need across the state of Iowa.
Phone: (319) 351-3602
Share Your Soles
Share Your Soles has been providing gently worn/new shoes to those in greatest need around the world since 1999.
Shoe4Africa a charitable organization started in November 1995 while the founder was in Kenya for almost seven months. Returning to Sweden in April 1996 shoes started to be collected, and a project was formed. Shoe4Africa mission is “empowerment through sports and education, creating unique health initiatives, and promoting Aids awareness.”
Shoes for Planet Earth
Based in Sydney, Australia, Shoes for Planet Earth is a charity working with local and international communities to provide recycled running shoes to those in need around the world.
Soles4Souls is a nonprofit global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. Shoe companies, retailers, and individuals can donate footwear both new and used to those in need around the world.
Phone: (615) 391-5723
A nonprofit organization formed by a group of runners in Ottawa, Canada, who donate gently used running and walking shoes overseas.
Phone: (613) 286-4225 or (613)240-4300
The Shoe Bank
Founded in 1989 with the mission of putting comfortable shoes on a few hundred homeless men living on the streets in downtown Dallas. The program today has grown abroad to provide shoes for twenty-five thousand people every year – primarily children, both here and abroad.
Phone: (971) 771-7658