Shoe, Shoe

     My closet is filled with shoes I never wear.  I know I should get rid of them but the problem is I can’t stand to throw them into the garbage.  The County Recycling Center Thrift Store doesn’t want them and most of them aren’t in good enough shape anymore. 

     I’ve heard of several programs for shoe recycling but there isn’t anything locally.  Sometimes I remember to bring the children’s shoes down to St. Cloud where there are drop off locations throughout their town for the Good Will or Salvation Army, but most of the time I forget.

     If you’ve run, no pun intended, into similar problems then see if this blog entry helps you get rid of your shoes.

Just Do It. (Recycle, That Is.)

Hey Mr. Green,


My favorite resource for information about recycling almost anything is Earth 911. You specify what you want to recycle, type in your ZIP code, and get the location nearest you.

Regarding footwear, there are an estimated 1.5 billion pairs of unworn shoes languishing in U.S. closets—enough, maybe, for the most desperate shopaholic, or all the world’s shoeless. But there are plenty of organizations that recycle them, including Soles4Shoes, which takes all types of "gently worn" shoes. For women’s shoes, there’s SimplySouls. For sports shoes only, there’s Nike—but don’t let its recycling program convince you that Nike is environmentally innocent, and don’t get all utopian about recycling, as Sole4Soles does with its slogan "Changing the world, one pair at a time," or SimplySouls’  "Saving the Earth, one shoe at a time." It’s gonna take a bit more effort than basking in the glow of a recycling ritual to fix the environment.

Nike takes worn-out athletic shoes and grinds them into Nike Grind,  which sounds like runner’s boredom but is actually a substance used in those cushiony athletic surfaces. Critics charge that while Nike has made some improvements since the 1990s, it dumps or burns scrap rubber in Indonesia—and that laborers in Nike and other shoe and sportswear factories in Asia lack the right to organize, are fired for union activity, and cheated out of pay. See, for example, this site or this one. Since Nike itself admits that there are still problems,  it wouldn’t hurt to remind the company to try harder to solve them

What do I do with my old stuff, like used shoes? I hate the thought of filling our landfills if my junk can be someone else’s treasure. How do I learn what can be reused or recycled and where to send unwanted items?


–Kirstin in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin