Waste, Reuse, Repair, Recycle
What to do with old running shoes in Aylesbury

What to do with old running shoes in Aylesbury

For those of you who run, we are constantly told to replace our running shoes every 500-750km which sounds like a lot, but if you run 5k 4 times a week, equates to a new pair of shoes every 6 months!

This is advice worth heeding as the cost of not doing so can be a serious injury!

There are two costs to doing this, however, to your wallet and more importantly to the environment. If you compare the cost of running to other ways of getting fit (such as the gym) you typically save a lot even if getting through a pair of shoes every 6 months, taking the sting out of having to buy them so I am going to focus on the environmental impact, as obviously the planet could do without a mountain of plastic running shoes going into landfill.

So what do you do with all those old shoes

4. Recycling them

Buckinghamshire council recently released a really useful new tool to help find where to recycle just about anything they call the “Waste Wizard”, it can be found here. A screen shot of the results at the time of publishing this blog to give you an idea:

Recycling old shoes is much better for the planet than simply putting them in the bin as it usually involves the raw materials that the shoes are made of being reclaimed and used to make other things (such as home insulation or car wiper blades) which uses less raw materials to create these products afresh and can be less carbon generating over the lifetime of the products. That said, it isn’t always clear what will happen with your old shoes for you to be able to tell whether they will be sent around the world to be partly made into wiper blades and the waste burnt or responsibly made into loft insulation more locally. Bucks Council doesn’t publish info on what it actually does with shoes receive.

Watch this space for another blog coming up soon where I will take a look at recycling options in more detail.

3. Charity Shop

If the pair of shoes in question is still wearable a charity shop is a good place for them as most will end up selling them locally to continue their life as shoes with a new owner. As this is basically a form of re-use, this is better than any form of recycling as ultimately the shoes continue to be used as shoes. Giving them to a charity shop has the added bonus that your chosen charity can make some money from them too.

There are always the pairs of shoes that a charity shop recieves that they cannot sent on. They are usually put in the bin, recycled, or sent to developing countries to be re-used – more on this in another blog soon.

2. Find a friend who wants them

I recently got a bag of 6 pairs of shoes from a friend who has a remarkably low tolerance for wear on his shoes (at least judging by the state of the shoes he gave me – they are all in FAR better condition than my existing trainers. I am super happy, he is happy to have the old shoes out of his life, and best of all, the shoes get some guaranteed re-use. The one drawback – this requires friends with the same shoe size as you

1. Keep using them

While old running shoes might not be much good for running anymore, they are likely to still work perfectly well as shoes for everyday use still. Retire them from the track and put them to work in the supermarket, when picking up the kids from school or in the garden and give shoes otherwise bound for the bin a second lease of life. While all shoes are ultimately going to end up as waste using them for longer for other purposes means you will need to buy fewer pairs of shoes overall which means less raw materials will be used making shoes, less energy used in creating, shipping and recycling shoes, less waste and less money spent. Everyone is a winner

When looking at my options here to write this blog I came across some really interesting info on the recycling and re-use options available locally and am planning a follow-up blog in which I will go through what actually happens to a pair of shoes once dropped off at a recycling point and shows how not all shoe recycling options are equal environmentally. I am also looking to create a map of recycling points around Aylesbury so you can always make the most sustainable choice when recycling wherever you are in town – recycling points are EVERYWHERE and the approach each company takes to process your old shoes varies so much.

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