Here are the Best Ways to Recycle Your Old Shoes

A lot of time, energy, labor and natural resources go into making a pair of shoes. So don’t you think they should be used for as long as possible? And then repurposed into something else when their useful life as a shoe wears out?

Here are some creative ways to recycle old shoes so they keep on truckin’ rather than end up in a landfill somewhere.

Shoes That Can Still Be Worn

What should you do with shoes you just don’t like anymore, but are still perfectly good?

* Take them to the nearest thrift store. Shoes are a popular, in-demand item, whether they’re men’s dress shoes, kids’ tennis shoes or an exotic pair of heels.

* Donate them to a shelter that needs shoes for homeless or disadvantaged men, women or children, depending on the shoes you have. Contact the shelter before you drop the shoes off to make sure they’ll be used.

* Send them to a local affiliate of Dress for Success if they’re for women or Art for Humanity for men. Soles 4 Souls accepts men’s and women’s shoes of all kinds.

* Donate sports shoes to, which helps people protect their feet from injuries and diseases like hookworm.  One World Running is another good resource.

* Donate kids’ shoes to The Shoe Bank.  Though this group will take adult shoes as well, its primary focus is kids.

* Swap them with neighbors. Make sure you clean them well first; clean any shoes you receive in the swap as well. Tennis shoes, soccer cleats and other sports shoes are pretty safe to swap because people usually wear socks with those kinds of shoes.

* Pass them among siblings. This is easier to do with shoes that toddlers wear, since they usually outgrow the shoe before they wear it out physically. Also, shoe sizes for tots are pretty uniform because their feet are somewhat uniform in shape, unlike adult feet.

* Put them in the back of the closet. If you’re bored with your shoes or they’ve gone out of style,  chances are they’ll be trendy again in a year or two. One or two pair of shoes don’t take up much room. Stow them on a high shelf or in the back of your closet and take them out next season—maybe you’ll like them better.

* Give them away on or sell them on Craig’s List or Ebay.

Shoes That Can’t Be Worn Anymore

* If your shoes are so beat up no one can wear them anymore, send them to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program, where they will be ground up and used to make into other products. You can find local drop off options here.

* If they still hold their shape, use them for planters, like the cute boots pictured above.

* If they’re a flat shoe, stretch a waterproof rubber bootie over them and wear them to garden or do yard work.

* Upcycle flip flops into door mats, baskets, artwork and even jewelry. You can get lots of ideas on this Pinterest page.

13 Cool Things You Probably Don’t Know You Can Recycle
What Happens to Your Donated Clothing?


natasha p
Past Member about a year ago


Julie P
Julie Pham1 years ago


Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T2 years ago


Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago

I'm delighted to hear of Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program. Genius!

Rose Becke
Rose Becke2 years ago

I give mine to charity shops

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

S Gardner
sandy Gardner3 years ago

I will now donate my shoes to the Trift store in town. I did not knownused shoes would be in high demand!

Michele Rosenbaum
m r3 years ago

thank you for the informative article

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

I have taken 3 pairs to the local thrift store. There are more to go but she doesn't have much space.

Muff-Anne York-Haley

Good ideas!