Step Up Your Recycling Game: Donate or Recycle Old Shoes for a Sustainable Future!

May 11, 2021 in environment, recycling

Article summary and Key takeaways: Recycling shoes is an important practice for reducing waste and protecting the environment. There are several options available for recycling or donating old shoes. Donation centers like Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept gently used footwear and distribute them to those in need. Some companies and organizations have specific shoe recycling programs, such as Nike’s “Nike Grind” and DSW’s “Soles4Souls”. TerraCycle offers a shoe recycling program called “Zero Waste Boxes” where you can purchase a box for collecting and recycling shoes. Local recycling centers and waste management departments may have specific procedures for shoe recycling. If recycling is not an option, donating shoes to those in need or checking with shoe brands for their own recycling programs are alternative options. Shoes should not be placed in traditional recycling bins and can be disposed of in the regular trash as a last resort. Shoe recycling programs do not commonly offer monetary rewards. Shoes should not be put into clothes banks as they require specialized recycling processes. By recycling or donating shoes, you can contribute to a more sustainable future and make a positive impact on the planet.

Recycling has become an increasingly important practice in today’s society, as we strive to reduce waste and protect the environment. While most people are familiar with recycling items like paper, plastic, and glass, you may be wondering if you can recycle shoes. The good news is that there are several options available for recycling or donating old shoes. In this article, we will explore different ways to recycle shoes and provide you with some helpful resources and information.

Donation Centers

One of the easiest ways to recycle shoes is by donating them to organizations and charities that accept gently used footwear. There are numerous options available, including well-known organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. These organizations have donation centers where you can drop off your old shoes, and they will either be resold or given to those in need.

In addition to these popular options, there are also local homeless shelters, community centers, and organizations that may accept shoe donations. These places often have a direct impact on the community and can benefit from receiving gently used shoes to distribute to individuals in need. Researching and reaching out to these local organizations can help ensure that your shoes find a new home where they are greatly appreciated.

Shoe Recycling Programs

Some companies and organizations have specific shoe recycling programs in place. One example is Nike’s “Nike Grind” program, which accepts old athletic shoes and recycles them into materials used for sports surfaces like basketball courts, running tracks, and playgrounds. By participating in this program, you can help reduce waste and contribute to the creation of new, sustainable materials.

Another notable shoe recycling program is “Soles4Souls” by DSW. This program collects new and gently used shoes and distributes them to people in need around the world. By donating to Soles4Souls, you can directly impact someone’s life by providing them with a pair of shoes.


TerraCycle is an innovative company that offers a range of recycling solutions for hard-to-recycle items. They also have a shoe recycling program called “Zero Waste Boxes”. With this program, you can purchase a box specifically designed for collecting and recycling shoes. Once you fill the box with your old shoes, you can send it back to TerraCycle, and they will handle the recycling process for you.

This option is particularly useful if you have a large quantity of shoes to recycle or if you want to ensure that your shoes are being recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes are available in different sizes, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Local Recycling Centers

Another option to explore is checking with your local recycling facilities or waste management departments for shoe recycling guidelines. While not all recycling centers accept shoes, some may have specific procedures in place for shoe recycling or can direct you to nearby facilities that do accept them.

It’s worth noting that the acceptability of shoes for recycling can vary depending on the materials used in their construction. For example, shoes made primarily from synthetic materials like rubber and plastic are more likely to be accepted for recycling than shoes made from leather or other natural materials. Checking with local authorities can help you determine the best course of action for recycling your specific shoes.

Alternative Options

In addition to recycling, there are alternative ways to give your old shoes a new life. One option is to donate them to those in need. Many charities and organizations distribute shoes to individuals who cannot afford to buy new ones. By donating your old shoes, you can directly impact someone’s life and provide them with the gift of comfortable footwear.

Another alternative is to check with shoe brands themselves for their own recycling programs. Some companies, especially those focused on sustainability and eco-friendly practices, have implemented their own recycling initiatives. These programs may accept their own brand’s shoes for recycling or offer incentives for returning old shoes.

Addressing Related Questions

Now let’s address some common questions related to shoe recycling:

Can shoes be put in recycling bins?

In general, shoes should not be placed in traditional recycling bins. Most recycling programs are not equipped to handle shoes, and they can cause issues with the recycling process. It’s best to explore other recycling options, such as those mentioned above.

What are the proper ways to dispose of shoes?

If you are unable to recycle or donate your shoes, you can dispose of them in the regular trash. However, this should be a last resort, as it contributes to landfill waste. Before throwing them away, consider if they can be repaired, repurposed, or recycled.

Is it possible to get money from recycling shoes?

While some recycling centers and programs may offer incentives or rewards for recycling certain items, including shoes, it is not a common practice. The primary goal of shoe recycling programs is to reduce waste and promote sustainability rather than provide monetary rewards.

Can shoes go into clothes banks?

Clothes banks typically focus on accepting clothing items, so it’s not recommended to put shoes into clothes banks. Shoes have different materials and may require specialized recycling processes. It’s best to explore shoe-specific recycling options, such as the ones mentioned earlier in this article.


Recycling shoes is not only beneficial for the environment but also for those in need. By exploring the various recycling and donation options available, you can ensure that your old shoes find a new purpose instead of ending up in a landfill. Remember to research specific information and resources for more detailed results in your area, as recycling programs and options may vary. With a little effort, you can contribute to a more sustainable future and make a positive impact on our planet.

Question: Can you put shoes in recycling bin?
Answer: It depends on your local recycling guidelines. Some areas accept shoes in recycling bins, while others do not.

Question: How do you dispose of shoes?
Answer: You can donate them to charity, give them to someone in need, or bring them to a shoe recycling facility.

Question: Can you get money from recycling shoes?
Answer: Yes, some shoe recycling programs offer monetary incentives or rewards for recycling shoes.

Question: Can shoes go into a clothes bank?
Answer: It depends on the specific clothes bank. Some may accept shoes, while others may only accept clothing items.


About the author 

Sam Martinez

Hello, I'm Sam. With a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Yale, I've dedicated my life to understanding and advocating for our natural world. My work has taken me from the halls of academia to the front lines of environmental activism. I'm thrilled to share stories from my journey, insights from my research, and ways we can all contribute to a healthier planet.