There has to be a better option to dispose of our worn-out shoes than just throwing them in the bin!
A sentiment I started to consider as I went through my third pair of runners in under a year. As some of you will be aware I completed the Oxfam Trailwalker in March this year which was a 100km walk to be completed in under 36 hours. My team and I trained for over 8 months for this event, hence the increase in shoe obliteration. So, what could I do with all these shoes? They were not good enough to be donated to charity, the soles were worn down and the inner was moulded to my foot like an old pair of slippers. Then I started to wonder if there was a way to recycle the shoes, in part or as a whole?
Shoes can be recycled!
A little bit of research taught me that we can in fact recycle up to 90% of the shoe and not just our runners, but all shoes. The materials harvested from the worn-out shoes will then be used to make products such as gym mats or the flooring you find in kids play grounds – how amazing is that!
After a conversation with the recyclers, Advanced Resource Recycling I learned that within Australia we import over 100 million pairs of shoes each year – that is 1 with 8 zeros after it!! And of the shoes destined for land fill they managed to recycle between 70-80,000 shoes in 2018.
At Simply Stronger we have vowed to help increase that number by becoming a collection point for dead shoes. To help in this effort, a gold coin donation with each pair of shoes helps both in the transport and recycling costs but is not essential and in the last month we have collected over 20 pairs of shoes. While this feels so very small and pales in comparison with the thousands of shoes recycled already, we have been buoyed by the idea that these shoes would ordinarily have been destined for land fill. We are committed to this campaign in an ongoing capacity and plan to track our progress, keeping you all informed as the numbers continue to rise.