Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
I’m a self-confessed shoe addict. I have more than a few pairs I don’t wear any more and some that are just plain past their best. My question is, what do I do with them, particularly the pairs that aren’t in good enough condition to give away?
I hate the thought of them rotting away on a landfill site and polluting the environment, so I don’t want to just put them in the bin.
But I also can’t open my wardrobe for fear of a shoe landslide, please help!
A girl with a shoe fetish
Dear girl with a shoe fetish,
It doesn’t surprise us that you have a lot of unwanted shoes hanging around in your wardrobe. In fact, a study carried out by Oxfam found that each person in the UK has around seven pairs of shoes they no longer wear in their wardrobe. And this is a lot of waste if you consider that many of these will end up in the bin.
Recycling your unwanted shoes is a great option. This will help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and also saves materials and energy. The materials can be turned into new products that someone else can benefit from.
If old shoes end up on landfill they take a long time to break down (running shoes can take up to 1000 years to decompose!) and when they do, they release gases like methane into the air which contributes to global warming. It’s far better to take them to a recycling bank that accepts footwear.
Some companies accept old shoes for recycling. You can take your old trainers to Nike which has a Reuse-a-Shoe scheme, where they will be turned into new shoes or surfaces for pitches and sports grounds.
You can also donate your shoes to charity if they are still in good condition. Most types of shoe are accepted for resale in charity shops, as long as they are clean and wearable. Some charities send shoes off to less fortunate people in poorer countries too.
If you want to make a bit of spare cash (and who doesn’t?) you can try selling them on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
But before you do anything with your shoes, consider if there’s actually still a bit of life in them. Let your creative genius loose and give a pair of trainers some new laces to change their look. Dye a pair of canvas shoes, or add some bling to heels and it will be like you have some brand-new custom shoes. Always think before you throw!