Reuse a Shoe
In 1990 Nike wondered what the company could do to be more sustainable. An obvious solution was to keep athletic shoes out of landfills since they may never decompose. Voila, the Reuse-A-Shoe program, was started.
About 1.5 million pairs are recycled at Nike recycling centers each year. Since its beginning nearly 28 million pairs have been recycled into other products rather than going to the landfill.
The only drop off center in Iowa is the Nike Factory Store at the outlet mall in Williamsburg. The store manager says they get about 200 pairs a month placed in the drop off bin. You can also mail shoes directly to a Nike recycling center.
The shoes are separated into three parts. The hard outer sole is ground up and used in sport court tiles, track surfaces, and even new shoes. The midsole or the cushion part is used for outdoor basketball and tennis courts. Finally, the shoe’s upper fabric is used in the cushioning pads under floors made of rubber or wood. Nike even came up with a new product called Nike Grind which is synthetic sport flooring.
Maybe the day will come when no new shoes will be made with virgin materials; instead all our athletic shoes will be in a never ending loop of use and rebirth.