In my run note for last month I briefly mentioned I had retired a pair of running shoes and looking into what to do next with them.

I like running. I wear running shoes to help me run. Obvious, sure, but the emphasis there is on the purpose and usability of the shoes (against, say, an aesthetics or brand values). When the shoes struggles to perform adequately, even impedes my running I have to retire the shoes. Unusable. It’s not the shoes are finished but they are finished as far as fulfilling their purpose.

Alongside this if we’re trying to encourage people to be active (and I have been one of those people over the last few years; Someone perfectly willing to but still someone who needed to be more active) we should also understand and enable a responsible lifecycle for the things in those activities, such as running shoes. Encouraging more people to be active should mean more things, to choose from and to use. Nothing lasts forever which should also mean more waste. If we just drop them in the trash there’s already a lot, possible a lot more running shoes that take many years to degrade. I’ve bought a few running shoes over the last three years and none have come with an “end of useful life” suggestion.

Finding things that are made from recycled materials, easier. That’s the start of my engagement with the product. But when I’m done? I have read about Nike in the US taking finished running shoes to make sports pitches but so so few schemes, manufacturers or elsewhere to take these finished shoes.

The running shoes have been by the front door for a good week now. I’ve another pair with them now, so that’s two pairs of running shoes “done”. I want them to be recycled.

My options:

1. Is it OK to send them to a charity shop with a note “Not OK for running anymore, should could be OK for casual”? What would a charity shop do? Put them out with that note? Put them out without the note? I’d worry someone might buy them for running and the soles cause them issues. Or the charity does some analysis and gets rid of them. Straight to the trash? Misses the point or me passing them to the charity shop. Does the charity look to get them recycled? That’s just me passing on my problem. If they pass them on where might that be?

2. So, I need to find a dedicated running shoes recycling service. Is there one?

I shared this on Twitter this morning. Here are the responses.

  • Recycle Now, “where possible they are sold for re-use”, doesn’t suggest they actually break the shoes down for recycling, goes back to point 1 above. Maybe it’s just unclear content though.
  • “Nike have their Reuse-a-shoe recycling service, which accepts any brand. Usually there are bins in every store, near the counter, but not sure what’s happening during lockdown.” There’s no indication on the Nike GB website this is the case (there are several outlet stores near me which would require a drive in the car) and the store finder on the Nike website showed the nearest stores to my location in the UK was in France. Also Nike’s GB sustainability page doesn’t reference being able to return shoes. (It does detail moves Nike are making to be more environmentally friendly though, just not the end step in the life of their shoe products.)

This is just the first version of this page. If you know of any other ways of getting my running shoes recycled let me know. I’ll keep looking too and update this page when I get any further information.

This post tagged with:
running, recycling, product lifecycle