Recycle Old Athletic Shoes

6 years ago

When it comes to material goods, I am a firm believer in reincarnation. (As for the human soul, I remain Undecided.) So imagine my joy when I discovered Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program that takes your stinky old tennis shoes, war-torn running shoes and backdated sneakers and gives the material life anew while skipping right over the landfill.

Image: ndanger via Flickr


Living in co-housing, there's a level of commitment when it comes to such thinking. There exists an understanding that if you have found a way to recycle something odd, then by God, let everyone know immediately so they can leave Material X on your porch or in your cubby. (I've seen this done with styrofoam, wine corks and dead Xmas lights.) This is how I ended up with eight pairs of old athletic shoes on my porch.

Established in 1990, the program was extended to retailers in 2002, which is why I was able to drop the shoes off at my local Runner's Roost, instead of trekking all the way to the downtown Nike store. (They don't accept: sandals, flip‐flops, dress shoes, boots or shoes containing metal such as cleats or spikes.)

It was easy peasy. I just walked in with a big ass bag of old shoes and asked about the program. They pointed to a big bin full of shoes and said, "Just dump 'em in here!" Done.

The site's video explains the program which breaks down the shoe into three parts - rubber, foam and fabric and repurposes the materials for athletic surfaces such as running tracks, tennis courts and basketball courts.

Check out this list for the part of the shoe that's used, and approximately how many pairs of shoes (or the manufacturing scrap equivalent), generally go into each type of surface containing Nike Grind:

  • Outdoor basketball court (midsole foam): 2,500 pairs
  • Outdoor tennis court (midsole foam): 2,500 pairs
  • Full field or soccer pitch (outsole rubber): 50,000-75,000 pairs
  • Mini soccer field (outsole rubber): 10,000-20,000 pairs
  • Running track (outsole rubber): 75,000 pairs
  • Playground (outsole rubber): 2,500 pairs
  • Indoor wood basketball court (upper fabric): 2,500 pairs
  • Indoor synthetic basketball court (midsole foam): 2,500 pairs

"Trash today, track tomorrow."


(Running) music to my ears!

Thus far, Nike has recycled 25,056,779 million shoes and now with our seven (the eighth pair was rejected - hiking boots), that brings it to 25,056,786!

I'm ridiculously overjoyed by this. I'm not usually prone to corporate gushing but I'm sending big green kisses to Nike...for just doing it.


BlogHer Section Editor, LIFE & GREEN; Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns; Proprietor, ClizBiz

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