By Fredrica Syren:
The right running shoe can make exercise so much fun. However, most of us never think about what happens to shoes when we’re finished with them. I used to either donate or give away old shoes, but I would send some broken and worn ones to a landfill. In the U.S. alone, roughly 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year and end up in a landfill, where they may take as long as 1,000 years to break down. During that time, the shoes will leak chemicals like ethylene vinyl acetate. This is environmentally irresponsible and has a huge impact on the planet for centuries.
So what are our options? Well, I’m happy to say there are some organizations with goals of trying to reduce the impact of shoe waste, which includes Reuse Your Shoes and Usagain. Usagain collects worn shoes and sends them to developing countries. Furthermore, at their stores, Nike collects unusable worn shoes for a program that turns them into athletic equipment and material for running surfaces. Adidas has taken a step further and designed a sport shoe made from made entirely from yarns and filaments produced using plastic salvaged from the ocean.
So, basically our options are to get as many miles out of our sport shoes as possible, send them off to get recycled when they’re used up, and consider shoes made from recycled materials or a biodegradable shoe option for our next pair.