Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday - Recycle your Shoes!

Recycle your shoes!

As an environmentalist, I try to minimize my unnecessary consumption of resources and minimize my contribution  to excess waste disposal.  As a runner, I'm concerned that my consumption of shoes is higher than the average person.  It's recommended that runners replace running shoes after 300 to 500 miles.  I've been sucessful in getting as much as 500 miles out of most of mine.  After that many miles, the shoes' shock-absorbing properties are compromised slightly from repeated compressions of the soles.  A runner risks injury by extending shoe use too far.  When I retire a pair of shoes from running, they are still normally in great general condition and have little sole wear.  500 miles sounds like a lot, but worn just for running, for example at 9.5 minutes per mile, they've only been worn about 80 hours.  That's like wearing them at work for two weeks, except that it is more extreme service! I do extend shoe use by wearing my running-retired best condition shoes additionally for casual use, and recently a friend reminded me about the Soles4soles organization.

Soles4soles ( is a non-profit organization that was formed after the asian tsunami several years ago.  They recycle "gently used" shoes by cleaning them and giving them to needy shoeless people around the world.  I've seen shoe collection bins at race events in the past, and recently explored their website.  I found that it's really easy to donate shoes at any time, benefitting both the Earth and people who need shoes.  Using the location finder at, I found that there are two locations within a mile and a half of my home where I can donate used shoes!

In the future, I'll take shoes to these locations as I retire them, rather than wait to donate them at a race event.


Patrick Girard said...

Great post Vern. I also find the rate at which I go through running shoes to be concerning.

We have a couple of running stores in the city that accept gently used shoes. One of the stores donates the shoes to a local shelter and the other donates shoes to programs around the world similar to the one you mentioned.

Vern said...

That's great, Patrick! There are a lot of good programs out there. People will use them if they know about them. Thanks for helping spread the word!

Anne said...

Great idea, Vern. I tend to hold onto mine for yardwork but there's only so many pairs you can devote to that task. I'm going to donate mine next time.