How to Donate Your Used Running Shoes

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Runners replace their running shoes fairly frequently. You may have a pile in your closet that you'd like gone, but don't have the heart to throw away. Don't feel guilty about getting rid of those old athletic shoes. They can be recycled or used in other ways to benefit good causes. Whether those shoes are worn out or nearly new, if it's not possible to return them to the store, there are many organizations that will collect those used running shoes.

Where to Donate Used Running Shoes

There are many great options for getting rid of used shoes. You can evaluate them all and decide which one is best for you based on your donation goals and the quality of the used shoes. Maybe your shoes are made from quality materials but are not in great shape, and it would be better to recycle them than to give them away to someone in need. Maybe you are unsure whether the shoes are of good quality or not and you'd like to find a service that can tell you. Maybe you care about the donation having a social as well as an environmental impact. Maybe you want a donation service that will come to your house. Maybe you prefer to work with a non-profit instead of a large corporation.

See what you think of what these programs have to offer and which one might make sense for you:

Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe Program

Nike is a major commercial manufacturer of athletic shoes. Perhaps they made the shoes you'd like to donate. Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe-Program recycles worn-out athletic shoes made by any brand, not just Nike, and has collected over 25 million shoes since 1990.

Nike's recycling process involves separating the rubber, foam, and fabric components of running shoes to be used in the creation of athletic environments for kids around the world. Basketball courts make use of the foam, basketball courts use the fabric, and the rubber gets used in running tracks and playgrounds. Nike also combines some of these components with pre-consumer materials to form a substance called the "Nike Grind", which is re-used in 71 percent of their products, such as in the fabric or the shoe upper or the zipper pull of a jacket.

To donate your used shoes to Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe Program, bring your shoes to any Nike or Converse store in the United States.

One World Running

One World Running is an international nonprofit based in Boulder, Colorado working to promote awareness of health, fitness, and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need around the world. Many of the shoes collected by One World Running are gathered from shoe drives hosted by local running clubs and Girl Scout Troops.

A major benefit to working with One World Running is that they are experienced in determining whether a used shoe is still in good enough shape to give away or whether it is better to recycle it, taking that sort of guess-work out of your hands. Shoes that are nearly new will be sent overseas. Shoes that are not suitable for shipment will be sent to Nike through Boulder's Eco-Cycle Program.

To donate your used shoes to One World Running, bring your shoes to any one of their drop-off locations around the United States.

Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls is a non-profit option which focuses on social as well as environmental impact. Beginning as a way to help those impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami as well as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Soles4Souls has distributed over 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and all 50 states since 2006.

In addition to providing footwear as second-line relief in disaster-stricken areas, they have ongoing work to support micro-enterprise entrepreneurs who sell the shoes as a way to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

To donate your used shoes to Soles4Souls, go to their website and print a shipping label to mail them the shoes or find one of their drop-off locations around the United States. If you live in the United States, Zappos for Good will ship your Soles4Souls donation for free. 

Pickup Please

Pickup Please is another great social impact, non-profit option for gently used or like new shoes that are not in need of repair, especially if you'd like to support veterans and/or prefer not to leave your house. Local pickup service providers will come to your house at a scheduled time to receive your donation, rain or shine.

Donated items are tax-deductible and are either given away to homeless and low-income veterans free of charge or used to generate the majority of the funding used to support the programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America, an organization that assists veterans of all backgrounds all over the United States.

To donate your used shoes to Pickup Please, go to their Scheduling Webpage and make an appointment or call 1-800-775-VETS.

Donate Locally

If none of the above options appeal to you, you can use websites such as Earth911 to find a solution for donating or recycling that is local to you. There are many reasons to donate locally:

  • Local organizations often employ local people, providing jobs in your community.
  • Local organizations are also often smaller, with lower overhead and less consistent support.
  • Donating or recycling locally may result in less overall energy being spent to transport materials.

Keeping things close to home is a great way to see the impacts of your contribution.

A Word From Verywell

No matter your donation goals or the state of your shoes, there is an organization near you that will take them off your hands. With just a little bit of effort on your part, you can make space in your house and save these shoes from the landfill.

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