If you’re like us, you may buy more than one pair of running shoes at a time, or at the very least have a few in your current rotation. It’s good to alternate pairs on daily runs (logical reason), or maybe you just can’t make up your mind between your final two choices at your local running store. Either way, when they’ve reached the end of their running life, you somehow end up with perfectly good shoes that are just no longer perfect for running.
Of course, you will use them as “run around” shoes instead of running shoes — going to the store, picking up the kids, doing yard work, or even hiking into places you don’t want to ruin your “good shoes” (creek cleanup, anyone?). Even then, you still probably have a lot of shoes.
We know running makes you feel good, and donating or recycling your old shoes will make you feel good, too. New life and new use are better for the environment, right? Right! So we’ve compiled a list of organizations that will put your shoes back to work even after they’ve run their 300-500 miles. If they look good, they can find a home. And if they don’t, they can still find a useful second (or third) life at a recycler. Check it out:
Shoes are Still Runnin’
Running Works – Keep it local with a great organization that helps Charlotte’s homeless community learn life skills through the sport of running. We can’t say enough about how great this group is, but to make it work, they need shoes. Send those gently used shoes here: https://runningworks.org/donate/
Samaritan’s Feet – Samaritan’s Feet serves and inspires hope by providing shoes as the foundation for a spiritual and healthy life resulting in the advancement of education and economic opportunities. Since its founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet and its partners have distributed over 8 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and over 440 U.S. cities. https://www.samaritansfeet.org/
Soles4Souls — S4S allows you to send in shoes for free or drop them in a bin nearby (3 locations at DSW Shoe Warehouses in the Charlotte area). The shoes are given to those who need them, or in some cases, allow women overseas to start their own business of selling gently used shoes in their community. Either way, your treads are not going into a landfill. Learn how to donate here: https://soles4souls.org/give-shoes/
One World Running — This group based in Boulder, Colorado, was started by a sports reporter who watched runners in Cameroon, West Africa, running a race barefoot. He contacted elite runners back home and Shoes For Africa was born. The name has changed, but you can still donate your washed, gently worn shoes (and shorts and T’s, too) to be sent overseas. Info to mail or drop off: http://oneworldrunning.com/drop-off-locations/
Goodwill, Salvation Army, Crisis Assistance Ministry — a few locations in Charlotte that can use your donations, but remember — shoes need to be gently used. If you wouldn’t give them to a friend or neighbor, don’t donate them here.
Shoes Are Ready to Recycle
Nike Reuse-A-Shoe — Drop off your REALLY well-used shoe at a Nike store to be ground up and used in playgrounds and running tracks. They’ll take any brand, but they only take athletic shoes — not sandals, boots, cleats, or dress shoes. Drop off is easy. There are 3 stores in the Charlotte area: Concord Mills, Charlotte Premium Outlets, and Gaffney Premium Outlets. More info here: https://www.nike.com/help/a/recycle-shoes
TerraCycle — Reuse every part of the shoe, from rubber to fabric to laces, by sending them to TerraCycle. This one isn’t free — prices start at $129 for a smaller box (11” x 11” x 20”), but it can fit a lot of shoes. Get together with some friends and share one, or save it for when you have a LOT of shoes to throw out: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/zero_waste_boxes/shoes-and-footwear#how-it-works
Your Charlotte-area specialty running shops including Charlotte Running Company, Fleet Feet, Run For Your Life, and The Ultra Running Company will all take your used-but-not-abused running shoes and get them to organizations that can put them to use.