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Give your shoes a new life

 Posted by on October 13, 2009
Oct 132009

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now


Photo: Nike

In just one year, 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away. These shoes end up in landfills across the US. Not only do these shoes not easily break down, the glue that holds a shoe together is toxic. So instead of adding to the growing trash problem, give your shoes a new life. What’s old to you, could be a playground for someone else thanks to Nike.

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, in partnership with the National Recycling Coalition, takes used athletic shoes and transforms them into something new.  The program, which began in 1990, has collected and recycled over 24 million pairs of shoes. Old athletic shoes are converted into Nike Grind, material that is then used to make:

  • Athletic facilities: tracks, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, and turf for soccer and football fields
  • Clothing accessories: zipper pulls, snaps and buttons
  • Shoes: Air Jordan XX3, Nike Trash Talk, Tiempo Super Ligera Soccer Shoe

With grinding facilities in Wilsonville, Ore., and Meerhout, Belgium, donated shoes are broken down into three parts:NikeGrindXsect

  • Nike Grind Rubber, made from the shoe’s outsole, is used in track surfaces, interlocking gym flooring tiles, playground surfacing and consumer products, such as new footwear outsoles and trim items like buttons and zipper pulls.
  • Nike Grind Foam, made from the shoe’s midsole, is used as a cushion for outdoor basketball and tennis courts, as well as futsal fields.
  • Nike Grind Upper, made from the shoe’s fabric upper, is used in the creation of cushioning pads for indoor basketball, volleyball courts and equestrian surfacing products.

Nike’s Belgium distribution center runs completely on wind power. “The facility produces enough power not only to provide energy for the distribution center but also puts energy back into the grid for the community to use,” said Kate Meyers with Nike.

Nike accepts any brand athletic shoe, no matter how worn out, excluding only cleats and spikes. There are over 300 drop off locations nationwide at Nike stores, and if there is not one near you, you can mail your shoes directly to Nike’s distribution facility. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe also reaches Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Nike has been doing well by the environment for quite a while now. “We take our commitment to the environment very seriously.  We were the first US company to join the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers Program where we have reduced our CO2 emissions– 18 percent over what it was 10 years ago,” said Meyers.

soles4soulsBut, if your shoes are not totally worn out, there is another option. Just because you don’t think your shoes are trendy anymore, doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t wear them. If your shoes are wearable, there are great charities that you can donate your shoes to such as Soles4Souls. This organization that is “Changing the World One Pair at a Time” gives gently worn shoes to people in need.

“There are an estimated 1.52 billion pairs in American closets that are no longer being worn,” stated Elizabeth Kirk, Public Relations and Marketing for Soles4Souls, Inc. Soles4Souls has distributed over four million pairs of shoes in 125 countries. They accept ALL types of shoes, even a single shoe will taken.  Soles4Souls gives you an opportunity to do good for the environment and for those less fortunate all at the same time.

Check here for a drop off location near you. “We have anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 retail locations that are currently collecting shoes.  We ask that the public clean out their closet, take their shoes to one of these participation locations and in most cases receive a discount on a new pair,” said Kirk.

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