A second life for your running shoes

A second life for your running shoes

Your shoes can have a useful second life, even after the cushioning is worn out. Better still, they can be turned into opportunity for people in the developing world.
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In a recent blog entry we highlighted the unbelievable levels of waste in sneakers and running shoes with over 300 million going to landfill every year. And in our first survey of how people (and their shoes) run, we discovered that almost 40% of runners are either throwing their used shoes in the trash or building a mountain of them in the closet to be thrown out during later clean-outs. On average, Americans throw away 70 pounds of textiles (shoes and clothing) per person, per year. That adds up to 21 billion pounds of unnecessary waste added to landfills.


Recycling is a complex and much debated industry and there are a myriad of different options from re-use at home right through to a complete breakdown of the shoe into pellets used in other manufacturing processes. One successful organisation is Soles4Souls who provide a path for re-use as well as helping people in the developing world to build their own micro-enterprises.


The World Bank estimates that 736 million live on less than $1.90 per day. 385 million are children. Many don’t have access to a sustainable job or resources to provide for themselves. Meanwhile many simply can’t afford adequate shoes and clothing and are left vulnerable to disease. Children often don’t meet uniform requirements in order to attend school and are at risk of falling behind and unable to receive an education.


Furthermore, in many developing countries, walking is a primary mode of transportation. Each day millions face the dangers of cuts, fungus, contaminated soil and insect bites that lead to infection, disease, amputation and death. Providing safe, sturdy shoes could help end this cycle.


Closer to home, in the United States, 12.7% of the population lives below the poverty line according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2016 estimates. When we can help provide a pair of shoes, we’re helping bridge the economic gap. For these families, a new pair of shoes provides dignity and hope.



Soles4Souls turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use - providing relief, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty. This means helping hard-working local entrepreneurs build their own small businesses selling donated shoes and clothing. Since 2006, Soles4Souls, their supporters and partners have kept more than 53 million pairs of shoes and pieces of apparel from going to waste, and they have distributed them in 129 countries and all 50 U.S. states. That's more than 71 million pounds of textiles kept from going to landfills and instead put to good use.


ReRunnr recently announced Soles4Souls as its primary recycling partner and offers all members a free US postage-paid ReRunnr Bag to send their used running shoes to Soles4Souls and onward to a productive second life. Buddy Teaster, CEO of Soles4Souls said "S4S is all about giving running shoes a second life and creating opportunities for people in the process.  That’s why we love ReRunnr – As I runner, finding a good use for old shoes is a real challenge. Repurposing running shoes can be a part of every runner’s habit and ReRunnr just made that much easier!”

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ReRunnr helps its members to recycle their old shoes, as well as giving them a 20% discount on new ones.

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