Life without Plastic

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to Recycle Shoes

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What to do when your sneakers aren't new?....
Confession time: I am not a big shoe fan. There, I said it, and now it's out in the internet forever. I am however, a pragmatist and a shoe owner. I am also a zero waster, so I can't stand the idea of just throwing a worn-out pair of sneakers "away". I don't need the sneakers anymore as I can't use them as shoes or have them repaired as such. They are ten years old and have been well used, now is time for their retirement. Here are my ideas on how I can recycle them:

  • Use them as pot for shallow rooted plants-

Pros: Easiness in practice and reusing vs recycling (reuse always trumps recycle with less energy consumption and down-cycling). I know how it will be used.
Cons: Having more plastic in my garden, especially near my food. I'm currently trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
Pros: I can make a label to ship them or take the shoes along with other recycling errands and have them out of my house. I know how it will be used and that it can be made into a product that is actually useful.

Cons: I have to take time to prep it it for shipping. Fuel will be used to either ship it or drive it to the Nike store. I have to drive it either to a post box or the Nike store, which is entirely out of my way. It is only going to be down-cycled before being trashed.

Pros: I know that if anyone takes them, that they will be appreciated. They will be reused before being recycled. Less fuel will be used by keeping them in our local gift economy.
Cons: No one may be interested, and I may just be holding on to something longer before it gets recycled. I can't be sure that they will be properly recycled after the neighbor uses them.

Decisions, Decisions
So what did I decide? I'm not growing our food in plastic. The shoes were bought years before I went plastic-free and I want to use the easiest way to see them be recycled one more time before making their way to the landfill. We'll be downsizing in the next few months and I simply don't room for one more plant pot to move and I don't want to deal with arranging to have the sneakers picked up by a neighbor.

What Am I Going to Do With My Shoes That Aren't New?
After careful consideration, I have decided to go ahead and donate my shoes to Nike. Since we're moving, I decided to go ahead and buy some paper tape for donating my shoes, reuse a box that had already been reused by shipping used cloth diapers to me, and homemade plastic-free glue to glue on the shipping label from scratch paper. That's what I do when my shoes aren't new.

What are some ways that you have found to reuse or recycle old shoes?
~Little Urban Greenie

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