Shoes can pile up in a closet. Whether you’ve emotionally grown out of a pair or just need to downsize for the sake of simplicity, you can donate your shoes. Tossing them in the trash can, even if you think they’re not good enough for anyone else to walk a mile in, is harmful to the environment. And just wasteful. With that in mind, it’s good to have an idea of how to know if a shoe is in good enough condition to donate before deciding upon its ultimate fate.
The good news is, no matter what condition your shoe is in, its fate doesn’t have to end in a landfill. Let’s say the sneakers you’ve trudged through mud in, ran a marathon in, and slip on for a grocery store excursion have been worn down. Let’s say we’re talking holes here. The truly worn in and worn out shoes won’t be in good condition to donate. However, you can recycle shoes through programs that accept shoes that are falling apart.
The shoes that you’re cutting back on, like the red pair of tennis sneakers you don’t wear because you have another pair in white that you wear more frequently, will most likely be accepted as donations. Most guidelines by organizations that accept donations ask that shoes be “new or gently used.”
Soles4Souls is an organization that collects shoe donations to “wear out poverty”. The organization was started in 2004 as disaster relief after footwear was donated to those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. The website explains, “In many developing nations, walking is the primary mode of transportation. Every day millions are exposed to unsanitary conditions that lead to diseases. These diseases may lead to sickness, even death. They also keep children out of school leaving them without an education and continuing the cycle of poverty. With your help, we can provide a life-changing solution: a good pair of shoes.”
The shoes should be new or gently worn, meaning no holes. And you probably shouldn’t have run in a marathon in the shoes you’re hoping to donate. If your shoes are still in quality condition — no holes, and you’d still wear them — they’re eligible for donation.
In the case of donating to Soles4Souls, their FAQ page explains that they accept the following gently worn shoes: “athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, flip flops.” Even if you can’t find the other half of a pair, or if your dog has adopted one shoe as their personal chew toy, Soles4Souls even accepts half pairs as donations.
As long as the shoes you’re hoping to donate aren’t riddled with holes, and were once obviously your favorite pair that were worn everywhere, your shoes could be eligible for donation. The shoes that are still pretty close to being in brand new condition, can be donated to any place that accepts shoes. You can find a local drop off for Soles4Souls or a local Goodwill.
Don’t toss your shoes, or just allow them to sit idly in your closet. Most shoes are in the perfect condition to be donated. And if they’re not, because maybe they have emo song lyrics scribbled in Sharpie on them, there’s always the opportunity to recycle.