There’s a tragic moment every runner or sportsperson has to face from time to time when that old faithful pair of running shoes finally can’t keep up with you anymore. Whether the tread is worn down to nubs, the laces have broken or there are holes in the uppers, running shoes can seldom last through the torture and punishment they’re subject to over many long miles of pounding into the sidewalk.
It’s an immovable fact anyone who works out will know quite well, and many times previously people would simply throw away their running shoes and reluctantly seek out a replacement pair to become acquainted with.
However, these days, when our environmental impact has become increasingly apparent, simply throwing away anything often feels like a huge waste of resources. We are all too aware now of landfill sites and ocean pollution, as well as the massive effect and imbalance this creates on wildlife and the very quality of our water and food.
More and more people are opening their eyes to the unsustainable practice of simply discarding and sending old clothing and footwear to landfill sites, but what can be done with an old pair of broken-down running shoes?
Surely there’s no one on earth who would be able to put them to good use?
Thankfully, this isn’t the case, and if you can’t find a way to put your old running shoes to use in your own home, there are several great initiatives that you can send them to which will repurpose or reuse them in a way that doesn’t involve them landing in a dump to break down over thousands of years.
In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the best options available to you so you can not only reduce your environmental impact but help various great initiatives in their work.
So let’s take a look at what you can do with your old running shoes.
Use for DIY or Gardening Tasks
The first thing to consider is that while your running shoes may not be fit to actually work out anymore, they may still be suitable for use around the house.
No one wants to wear their favorite slippers or trainers to do DIY, as this can often lead to them getting splashed with paint, glue, and other things which will totally ruin them. To avoid this, it’s great to keep an old pair of running shoes for these tasks as it doesn’t really matter how badly they get beaten up or stained during this kind of home maintenance because that’s all they’re ever used for. It will help protect your more precious footwear and will also stop you from sending your running shoes to landfill, so it’s a win-win.
Donate to Nike Reuse a Shoe Program
Another great alternative to simply throwing away your running shoes is to send them to the Nike Reuse a Shoe program. This is a program run by Nike and it takes in thousands of shoes, breaking them down in a grinding process to recycle the materials to help with the creation of everything from turf fields to basketball courts and running tracks all over the world. There’s something almost poetic about turning waste into places where people can enjoy their favorite sports, but that’s not all Nike does with these recycled shoes and materials.
They even use these materials for the display shelves and mannequins in their stores, as well as using them in their sweatshirts, and brand new Nike and Converse shoes, creating a fairly efficient process or recycling that reduces a lot of waste.
Send them to One World Running
While recycling the material of running shoes is good, One World Running takes a different approach, taking running shoes with a lot of life left in them and cleaning them up to be sent to more impoverished countries such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Haiti and other places that badly need aid and assistance.
Any shoes that don’t meet the standards required to be sent are then moved on to Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program, so nothing goes to waste!
Donate to a Local Charity or Thrift Store
While using these large scale programs is great, the first port of call should always be your local charity or thrift store, as quite often these stores will be able to find a new home for them and make a little money for charity while doing so.
It’s also a little more eco-friendly to do this than to ship massive amounts of material and shoes across the world, and while not all shoes will be able to be resold, it’s a great place to start before considering the other options available to you.
Donate them to Soles4Souls
The mission of this program is to redistribute shoes that can be resold to impoverished people all around the world, allowing them to sell them on to make some money and help relieve extreme poverty in these areas of the world. It’s a microenterprise program that sort of mimics the idea behind a thrift store, but the money goes directly into the hands of the most desperate all over the world.
Keep them as a Spare
When you’ve finally gotten a new pair of running shoes, it’s easy to want to simply throw away and forget about your old pair. However there are often times when you wish you had kept them as a spare option, particularly if the weather is awful out or you’re going on a more muddy and punishing run, and don’t want to immediately ruin your brand new running shoes.
Keeping your old running shoes as a spare can help make your newer running shoes last longer, while also preventing your old pair from going to landfill or going to waste.
This will allow you to extend the useful life of both your shoes and is a very eco-friendly practice, and you can always send them on to one of the programs above when they are truly no longer usable.