We’ve spent a great deal of print space on Postconsumers.com talking about women and their shoe collections and men and shoe addiction.  However, the reality is that even if you’re the next Imelda Marcos, there are ways that your shoe collecting habit can be more eco-friendly (though perhaps not more budget friendly). There are a number of ways to recycle shoes for good. Here are some tips!

Always Recycle Old Athletic Shoes

Athletic and sports shoes are the least likely type of shoe to get donated to a thrift store or Goodwill because typically by the time you get rid of a pair of sports shoes they’re in pretty bad shape. That doesn’t mean that you can’t recycle them though! There are many programs out there that will recycle athletic and running shoes into their component parts, restore them for use in developing nations or even turn them into eco-friendly turf for sports fields. RecycledRunners.com offers a handy nationwide directory of places where you can drop off and recycle running shoes. Nike Reuse-a-Shoe turns shoes into running tracks and other sports equipment. Soles 4 Souls collects individual and footwear company shoes to donate to people in need.  All services offer tips for doing a recycling shoe drive in your neighborhood as well.

Donate and Sell Old Shoes That Are Still Wearable

We’ve said for a while now that one of the best ways to control excessive shoe shopping is to set your own limit for how many pairs of shoes you’re allowed to personally own at any one time. But what should you do with shoes of all kinds when you’re ready to get rid of them? The obvious answer is to donate them. Not only will you be helping out a person who may need them, but you’ll also be keeping them from landing in a landfill. If you’re trying to be cash conscious, selling old shoes on eBay, garage sales or flea markets is also an option. For shoes that clearly aren’t wearable anymore and can’t be passed on or saved, consider breaking the shoe down into its synthetic and natural material parts and passing the natural parts to a compost pile rather than the trash.

Buy From Eco-Conscious Shoe Manufacturers

Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. When buying shoes, try to stick to shoe companies that make an already eco-conscious product. Vegan shoe companies are a great place to start because their carbon footprint is naturally smaller  – though be sure to do your research because some vegan apparel manufacturers use high counts of synthetics that are made with harsh chemical processes and therefore no better for the earth at all! Tom’s Shoes is the wildly popular eco-friendly shoe brand that also donates a pair of shoes to an individual in need for every pair of shoes that you might buy.

Shoes – we all need them (unless you’re an extremely-lucky beach liver). Some of us like them a little more than others. No matter where you fall on the shoe buying and collecting scale, there are ways that you can minimize your impact on your wallet and the planet when you make good decisions.

Have more advice on how to be green and socially conscious with shoes? Comment or like us on Facebook and share with us.



Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: davitydave