What to do with Old Shoes


Photo by Nqobile Vundla on Unsplash

Sophia Gesmundo, A&E Editor

Whether we wear them out, grow out of them, or just don’t like them anymore, shoes are thrown out all the time and often end up in landfills or places they should not be. Most people just throw their old shoes in a dumpster and move on, not thinking of where they will go or the potential of what they could become. 

24.2 billion pairs of shoes are manufactured each year, and most of them end up in landfills or incinerators. The biggest reason for this is the large number of shoes that are manufactured, and little recycling options for them. Once in landfills, shoes can leach plastics, metals, and other toxic chemicals according to the director of the Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability at the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Sahadat Hossain. Most shoes contain plastic-based components that last extremely long and “can take as much as 1,000 years to decompose.” 

The first and simplest advice is to donate old shoes, it may seem unsanitary and gross, but often worn out to one person may not be worn out to another. Most shoes are easily cleanable and just about any local to large scale donation center or thrift store will take them. Many large stores such as Walmart also have shoe and clothing drop bins outside that are picked up by charity centers 

If you had a pair of shoes that were very special, but you feel are losing thier vitality, there are so many ways to upcycle old shoes and bring them back to life! A great place to start is with new laces; colorful or even just clean laces instantly reive an old, dusty pair of shoes. Canvas shoes, like Vans or Converse, can be dyed or painted on. 

Recycling, donating, or upcycling are all really good ways to keep shoes out of landfills and may even make a difference in someone’s life.