How to Recycle Old Running Shoes

Don't Throw Out Those Used Sneaks! How to Recycle Old Fitness Gear

Exercising regularly means going through lots of fitness gear. Instead of just tossing out old kicks or a worn-out yoga mat, do something good for the Earth. Here are ways to recycle or reuse old workout gear.

Sneakers

  • Donate: You can toss them in a Goodwill bin, or send them to an organization that'll put them to good use. Soles4Souls's tag line is "Saving the world — one pair at a time." This organization takes your tired, but "gently worn," sneakers and finds needy feet to fill them. They strongly suggest organizing shoe drives and mailing all the pairs to one of their three warehouse locations. Another organization, One World Running, has been serving runners around the world since 1986. Through collection programs, they are able to provide shoes for needy runners across the world. Check here for drop-off locations.
  • Recycle: Turn your old shoes into something new. Nike Reuse-A-Shoe takes all brands of sneakers that are beyond "gently worn" and turns them into a recycled product known as Nike Grind, which is used to make tracks, indoor basketball courts, fields, and playgrounds. Just drop off your retired sneakers at any Nike store, or check here for drop-off locations.
  • Reuse: Keep an old pair of sneakers around for days when you're running or walking in the rain or on muddy trails. Some people even use old shoes as plant potters. Fill a disinfected shoe with soil and grow some basil or cilantro on your deck or windowsill.

Keep reading to find out what you can do with your old fitness clothes, equipment, and yoga mats.

Clothes

  • Donate: When you buy newer gear, pass on your old gear to friends or siblings, or donate them to Goodwill, a homeless shelter, or other charity store.
  • Recycle: Patagonia accepts all its products back for recycling. Either mail them to Patagonia or drop them off at a retail store.
  • Reuse: Used fitness clothes make excellent old rags for cleaning. Cut them up and store them in a bag under the kitchen sink.

Equipment

  • Donate: Send gently used sports gear such as balls, baseball bats, and bikes to Sports Gift and they'll get it to impoverished children in over 50 countries. Or donate your fitness equipment to Fitness 4 Charity and they'll make sure it goes to someone in need.
  • Recycle and reuse: If you have bulky equipment such as an old treadmill, check to see if your community has a recycling center that will be able to find use for the parts.

Yoga Mats

  • Donate: If you have a special place in your heart for four-legged friends, bring your used mat to the local Humane Society where they'll use it to line crates for the animals. The Bolder Mat Company also accepts old mats for their renew and recycle program, and donates them to needy schools or community organizations.
  • Recycle: Mail your worn-out mat to Recycle Your Mat and they'll recycle it for you. Bonus: you'll receive a coupon for 20 percent off an eco-friendly Manduka mat.
  • Reuse: Wash your old mat thoroughly and place it under your treadmill to protect the floor from scratches, or fold it up and use it as a kneeling pad when gardening. Old mats can also be cut up and used under the litter box to prevent tracking kitty litter all over your house, cut into circles and used to open jars, or you can place a piece in your trunk to keep bags of groceries from sliding around.

Source: Flickr User Tomi Tapio

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