Making the Most of Your Shoes | Where and How to Recycle Shoes

recycling shoes

Whether you have a shoe collection of Imelda Marcos sized-proportions, or see them as a functional item to protect your feet, we all have shoes. And at some point those shoes will come to the end of their useful life to you. But what happens to them then? What should we do with our pile of unwanted shoes? 

There may well be a lot more options than you even realise. Some of them benefitting others, some of them benefitting you, but either way, shoes should never find their way to landfill.  Shoes have life left in them whether you know it or not, no matter how much you’ve worn them, abused them or loved them.

Here are our suggestions as to how to give your unwanted shoes a longer and more fruitful life!

LOCAL RECYCLING CENTRES

Your easiest option is probably to take them to your local community recycling centre.  Shoe recycling bins are widely available, and to find one in your area, you can search by post code on the Recycle Now website. Click on the ‘textiles’ tab in the list, and ‘shoe’s in an option.  You should sort your shoes into pairs, and usually place them in a bag before you deposit them. Quite often your shoes will be sent abroad for re-use or recycled in a responsible manner.

shoe recycling locator tool

CHILDREN’S SCHOOL SHOES

If you aspire to a greater good for your shoes, then you may be interested in the inspiring work of charity, Sal’s Shoes. Set up by a mum who wanted more for her son’s shoes, Sal’s Shoes supply schoolchildren who would otherwise be going to school barefoot, with essential school shoes. In the past 4 years’ Sal’s shoes have redistributed over 4 million pairs of shoes across 35 countries around the world.

Sal's Shoes

CASH FOR TRAINERS

If like many runners, you’ve hoarded a slightly embarrassing sized collection of trainers, you may be interested in the ‘Recycle my Run’ campaign currently available at Runners’ Need, the specialist running store. They will give you £20 off a shiny new pair of trainers, if you bring in a pair for recycling. But hurry – the offer closes on 18th March!

Recycle Running Shoes

COLLECT FOR A COMMUNITY CAUSE OF YOUR CHOICE

Many charities raise money through organising shoe collections which are then sold on to specialist recycling companies. And you can organise one for your favourite cause too. Companies like United Shoe will give you up to £5 per sack of shoes, and charities such as Bags of Support of or Bags2School will also give you cash for not only shoes, but other textiles too, typically for your school’s PTA.

Bags2School Shoe Recycling

Of course charity shops, eBay and Facebook are other options to extend the life of your shoes, particularly if they are in good condition, but we hope that this gives you food for thought next time you are having a clear out.