I looked at my sneakers today while sitting on the bus and realized that it might be time – time to invest in another pair, and even worse, to figure out what to do with these ones. My poor shoes have been through every type of weather, many varieties of sport, and household repairs including painting, which they show. These sneakers are now flat, worn, splattered, and splitting at the seams. It is time.

Of course this begs the question of what to do with my old kicks. I do not want to simply throw them in a trash can when I get my new ones. I remember that we used to donate our old shoes but those were in slightly better shape than these. In this condition, I wondered if there were still any use left in them. The internet, of course, has all the answers to everything. Yes, everything. I began to do some research and here are a few of the options I found:

Reuse them:

The simplest option would be to keep an old pair on hand for things like working outside (in the garden, in the mud, etc) or for other home tasks like painting or cleaning (instead of using your new/main pair, like I did…).

Repair them:

If they are not in bad shape they may be able to be repaired. You could either take them to a shoe repair place or try and fix them up yourself. Specifics on this would depend on the style of shoe and type of repair, but it could be worth it in terms of reducing waste and saving money by not having to buy a new pair.

Revive them:

If the shoes are wearable but no longer in style or maybe they are stained, etc, why not get crafty and decorate them? You could use fabric dye, sequins, lace, markers, paint, glow-in-the-dark things, glitter, or anything else you want. Go to town on your shoes, and then go to town in your shoes to show them off 🙂

Repurpose them:

I saw one idea that suggested disinfecting them, filling them with soil, and planting herbs, flowers, or succulents in them. Not something I would have thought of but an interesting idea! Another idea I found is to nail a shoe, toes down, to a tree and use it as a bird feeder or bird house. I used to use a pair of sneakers as very light dumbells (I think they weighed about a pound or two each?) for some light arm exercises. You could make them a bit heavier by stuffing them with something like a water bottle filled with sand.

Donate them:

There are plenty of charities that will take gently worn shoes and either resell them or send them to people in need around the world. Along with this list there may be local charities or groups in your area that accept used shoes, so be sure to explore those as well:

Goodwill: Resells donated items and uses the profit to help employ, train, and provide opportunities to people in need, those with disabilities, seniors, etc. Find a location here.

Salvation Army: Also resells the donations like Goodwill but faith-based and with a wide variety of projects and programs to help people around the world. Find a location here.

Planet Aid: They resell and recycle textiles (including shoes) in order to keep them out of the landfill, and any proceeds go toward sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Drop off your shoes in one of their 19,000 yellow bins. Find a location here or here.

Soles4Souls: Sends donated shoes to areas in need, including to areas of poverty and for natural disaster relief. Soles4Souls has provided shoes to 127 countries around the world. Find a location here. If you have more than five pairs or if there is no drop-off location near you, you can find shipping information here.

The MORE Program: They resell the shoes to fund a regenerative farming program in developing countries. There are over 500 stores that accept shoe donations for the MORE Program. Find a location here.

Recycle them:

Nike Grind is a program that gathers athletic shoes and uses them to produce surfaces for basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks, and playgrounds, as well as making them into athletic apparel and even using the material for new shoes. You can drop off your shoes (any brand) at your local Nike store. Find a location here.

As far as my shoes, I will probably keep this pair a little longer for painting and yard work, but I have a few others that I plan to donate and/or send away to Nike. I had not heard about Grind until doing this research and it seems like a great way to put the material back to use when the shoes themselves are unusable. Any other ideas floating around that yall have seen?

2 replies on “What to Do with Old Shoes

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