Are your shoes old and worn out? Please don't throw away your beaten-up old footwear. Here, instead, are some tips for recycling your old footwear.

It's not easy to find a shoe store that sells only shoes made in an Correctly recycling your old footwear is a whole other challenge. The very definition of a riddle!

Shoes are more complicated to buy and recycle at the end of their lives than, say, a standard cotton t-shirt because they are made of such a wide variety of different materials. Rubber or plastic could be used for the soles. The insole could be made of latex. It's up to you whether the uppers of your shoes are made of leather, canvas, wool, or PU plastic. As an additional option, you can use metal or plastic eyelets and zips. Then there's the lacing and the stitching. Put simply, a single pair of shoes contains a surprising amount of information.

It's a nightmare for recyclers because shoes have to be disassembled into their component parts before they can be recycled. In other words, this is not a simple task. In addition, recycling old shoes may not be a good value due to the effort required to disassemble them.

Considering that every year people around the world buy [[24]]2 billion pairs of shoes, and that roughly 90% of unwanted shoes are thrown away, this is a major environmental issue. No wonder we throw away so many pairs of shoes after they've served their purpose. On the other hand, once discarded in a landfill, our footwear can release harmful chemicals into the soil and water.

Tips for Reusing Your Outdated Footwear

Flatlay of shoes, with blue text box that reads how to recycle your old shoes and boots and trainers correctly.

Is there any way to prevent the enormous ecological impact that worn-out footwear currently has? Follow these guidelines to get the most mileage out of your footwear and minimize your impact on the environment.

Before buying new shoes, fix the ones you have.

It's best to see if your shoes can be fixed before giving them away for recycling. From Birkenstock experts to Dr. Martens repairmen, the shoe repair industry is thriving. The high street cobblers are also fantastic resources for revitalizing worn footwear.

The cobbler fixed the same pair of boots for me three times before we both realized they were beyond repair. Their lifespan was significantly increased as a result. Even if you think your shoes are completely worn out, there may be a way to save them.

Quality Shoes for Sale or Donation

Instead of throwing away shoes in good condition, consider selling or donating them. You can sell your gently used clothing and footwear on a variety of online marketplaces. Shoes that are in good selling condition can also be donated to thrift stores. Shoes you no longer want can become someone else's treasure if you just give them a quick clean before passing them on.

Please bring your used shoes to Schuh, where they will be recycled.

There are methods of recycling shoes that can't be resold or repaired, keeping them out of landfills.

To reuse your shoes, try Schuh's Sell Your Soles program. Take your old, worn-out shoes and drop them off at your local Schuh. Schuh offers a voucher good for £5 off the purchase of a new pair of full-priced shoes costing £25 or more for every pair of shoes recycled.  

One of the best things about Schuh is that they recycle shoes of any brand, material, or condition. This holds true regardless of whether or not the items were bought in Schuh.

Schuh has enlisted the help of Recyclatex, based in Manchester, to carry out its shoe recycling program. This trading group sends shoes to recyclers in the Global South. Its member companies specialize in textile reuse and recycling activities like collection, logistics, and value identification. Here, Recyclatex claims that nearly all footwear can be recycled (up to 98 percent).

Additionally, Recyclatex contributes to the World Land Trust with a monetary gift for every tonne of used footwear collected. This organization collaborates with community groups all over the world to restore and protect imperiled habitats for endangered species.

To Recycle Shoes, Visit Clarks

ShoeShare is a shoe recycling program operated by Clarks, a popular shoe retailer. Clarks suggests customers call ahead or visit the store to see if they participate in ShoeShare before bringing in their used footwear.

And just like Schuh's scheme, Clark's is managed by a company called Recyclatex. Furthermore, just like Schuh, Clark's will gladly accept any and all shoe brands and styles for recycling.

One tonne of shoes collected results in a $100 donation to Unicef. The funds will be used to support Unicef's global education initiatives.

Nike's Recycling Program for Sneakers

In my opinion, the Nike recycling program is the best option for reusing old sneakers. Despite the company's poor track record when it comes to sustainability, Nike's internal recycling program serves as an excellent example for other retailers.

Here, worn-out sneakers are recycled into new Nike Grind shoes rather than being sent to developing countries. Nike Grind is a recycling program that uses leftover materials from production as well as old shoes. The materials are reduced to powder and then further refined into other products.

Nike says it has been incorporating its "Nike Grind" slogan into a wide variety of its offerings, including but not limited to stores, offices, arenas, skateboards, even spacecraft. Because of this, used sneakers can be used for a longer period of time rather than being thrown away.

Keep in mind that Nike will recycle any brand of athletic shoe except shoes with metal, like cleated cycling shoes or spiked golf shoes. If you want to sell your old shoes to Nike, only trainers will do.

If you have old sneakers that you'd like to donate, you can do so at select Nike retail locations. Be sure your neighborhood Nike store will accept your used shoes by calling ahead.

Shoe Banks

The only other option I know of is the shoe banks that can be found in many Council recycling centers and some supermarket parking lots if you don't live near any of these High Street stores. The fate of the shoes is up to whoever picks them up. While some may be donated, I believe the vast majority is shipped south of the border for recycling.

Helping Each Other Out

Clearly, not every one of these ideas is foolproof. The Global South is awash in our used clothing and footwear, which has negative effects on local economies, health, and the environment. To add insult to injury, not every single pair of shoes will be recycled. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, companies will implement their own recycling programs like Nike has, lightening the load for everyone.

Meanwhile, we can be of assistance. Shoe consumption can have less of an impact on both people and the environment if we buy fewer pairs and treat them well. You can also help make recycling shoes easier for everyone by suggesting that your preferred shoe stores investigate shoe recycling programs.