I got the used shoe blues


I have a new recycling quest. (The last one, if you’re wondering, worked out happily when I took my electronics to Best Buy.) This one smells like feet and is flecked with Virginia red clay. Yes, my last two pairs of running shoes need to go, and I’d rather they didn’t go into the garbage.

So. Once again, I begin my search locally, with the recycling finder on Better World Betty. The good green maven sends me to Nike Reuse-a-Shoe, a program I’d heard of before. Nike uses the ground-up shoes mostly for surfacing products in playgrounds, sports courts, etc. Their site lets me search for shoe dropoff points by state. In Virginia, my only options are to drive to Leesburg, Woodbridge or Williamsburg. Recycled Runners gives me one more option, this one in Warrenton. We’re getting closer, but not close enough.

Can I mail them to Nike? Yes, I can download a shipping label and pay for my own shipping. This program seems to be the only shoe recycling gig going; Grist has Nike as the only recommended place to recycle shoes.

So does eHow, but their writeup gets me thinking about donating the nicer of these two pairs, instead of recycling. That would be lower-impact, more local, and cheaper for me. And it would be quicker than sending them to one of the many worthy but faraway organizations listed here, most of which redirect used shoes to people in need (and most often, on other continents). The second pair, I think, is too far gone for Goodwill.

I’m gathering, from the results of my googling, that county and city governments around the country have run their own shoe recycling programs—maybe they’re just serving as collection hubs for Nike or another donation-based program, but still, it’s a handy service to offer citizens.

Anyone have experience with these options, or others I didn’t find?