How to Properly Dispose of Old or Unwanted Shoes

Our lives revolve around shoes, but what happens when they become outdated or worn out?

Disposing of old or unwanted shoes not only helps the environment but also frees up closet space.

But how do you go about it?

You don’t have to worry – we’ve got you covered! We’ll show you how to properly send off your shoes and even give you some creative ideas for repurposing them.

So grab those old kicks and let’s get started!

Properly Dispose of Old or Unwanted Shoes

How to Properly Dispose of Old or Unwanted Shoes?

When disposing of old or unwanted shoes, it’s important to consider the environmental impact. If the shoes are still wearable, consider donating them to a local charity or thrift store. You can also look for a shoe recycling program in your area. Avoid throwing them in the trash to reduce harm to the environment.

Why You Should Dispose of Old or Unwanted Shoes

Old or unwanted shoes can clutter your closet and take up valuable space. Without proper disposal, shoes can release toxic chemicals into the soil and water.

In addition to environmental concerns, keeping old or unwanted shoes around can also contribute to a sense of clutter and disorganization in your life. 

Aside from creating more physical space in your home, getting rid of them can improve your mental clarity.

Another reason to dispose of old or unwanted shoes is that it allows someone else to benefit from them. Donating gently used pairs to charity organizations means that someone less fortunate will have access to quality footwear without having to purchase new ones.

Ultimately, getting rid of old or unwanted shoes benefits both yourself and the environment while giving others the opportunity for better footwear options.

Evaluate Your Old Shoes

Before you dispose of your old shoes, it’s important to evaluate them and understand their material. This can help you determine the best way to dispose of them.

Perhaps they are no longer comfortable or supportive, or they no longer fit properly. Maybe they are out of style, or you simply no longer have a use for them. 

Evaluate Your Old Shoes

Whatever the reason, it’s important to dispose of your shoes in a responsible and sustainable way.

Donation and Resale

Donating or reselling your old shoes can be a great way to extend your life and reduce waste. Here are some options to consider:

Donation and Resale

Places to Donate Shoes

  1. Charities and non-profits such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Dress for Success
  2. Homeless shelters and organizations that help those in need
  3. Schools and youth organizations
  4. Sports teams and organizations

Tips for Donating Shoes

  1. Make sure the shoes are clean and in good condition.
  2. Consider donating to organizations that specifically request shoes.
  3. Check in advance with the organization to see if any specific requirements exist. 
  4. Be aware of any restrictions, such as dress codes or safety regulations.

Reselling Options

Reselling Options
  1. Consignment stores, sell your shoes on your behalf and take a percentage of the profits.
  2. Garage sales or flea markets, where you can sell your shoes in person.

Online Platforms for Selling Shoes (if they are in good condition)

  1. eBay – one of the largest online marketplaces for buying and selling shoes
  2. Poshmark – an app-based marketplace for buying and selling fashion items, including shoes
  3. Depop – a platform for selling vintage and secondhand clothing, shoes, and accessories
  4. Grailed – an online marketplace for high-end men’s fashion, including shoes.

When donating or reselling your shoes, be sure to accurately describe their condition and any flaws. This can help ensure that buyers or organizations receive the shoes they expect, and can help you avoid negative feedback or returns.

Recycling Shoes

The recycling of old shoes reduces waste and minimizes the impact on the environment. Here are some things to know about shoe recycling:

Different Types of Shoe Recycling

  1. Material recycling: Shoes are broken down and the materials (such as rubber, leather, and plastic) are reused to create new products.
  2. Energy recovery: Shoes are burned to generate energy, which can be used to power homes or businesses.
  3. Upcycling: Shoes are creatively repurposed into new items, such as playground surfaces or athletic fields.

Where to Recycle Shoes

  1. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program: This program accepts any brand of athletic shoes and recycles them into material used for sports surfaces.
  2. Soles4Souls: This non-profit organization accepts gently used shoes and redistributes them to those in need around the world.
  3. Terracycle: This company specializes in hard-to-recycle materials and offers a shoe recycling program.
  4. Local recycling centers: Some local recycling centers accept shoes as part of their recycling programs.

How Shoes are Recycled

Depending on the method of recycling employed, shoes are disassembled into their constituent materials such as rubber, leather, and foam, and subsequently repurposed or utilized in the production of novel commodities. 

The technique implemented for recycling shoes determines the degree of decomposition and subsequent application in the product development process.

Benefits of Shoe Recycling

  1. Reduces waste: Shoe recycling keeps old shoes out of landfills, reducing the amount of waste produced.
  2. Conserves resources: Recycling shoes reduces the need for new materials, conserving natural resources.
  3. Reduces environmental impact: The shoe manufacturing process can have a significant impact on the environment, so recycling shoes helps to reduce this impact.
  4. Creates new products: By recycling shoes, the materials can be used to create new products, reducing the need for new materials to be extracted or manufactured.

Alternatives to Shoe Disposal

Ways to Extend the Life of your shoes

There are several ways to extend the life of your shoes, including:

  1. Invest in quality shoes: Choose well-made shoes with durable materials to ensure they last longer.
  2. Rotate your shoes: Wearing the same pair of shoes every day can cause them to wear out quickly. Try rotating your shoes and giving them time to rest between wears.
  3. Clean your shoes regularly: Dirt and dust can cause damage to the materials of your shoes. Clean them regularly using a soft brush or cloth and a mild cleaning solution.
  4. Protect your shoes: Use a protective spray or wax to shield your shoes from damage caused by water, stains, and other elements.
  5. Proper shoe storage: Store your shoes in a dry and cool area to prevent damage to the materials. Consider using shoe trees or stuffing them with newspaper to maintain their shape and absorb moisture.

Repairing Shoes

Repairing Shoes

When it comes to repairing your shoes, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Know when to repair: Check your shoes for signs of wear and tear, such as holes, worn-out soles, and broken zippers, before they are beyond repair.
  2. Find a good cobbler: Take your shoes to a reputable shoe repair shop or learn how to repair them yourself.
  3. Replace worn-out soles: The soles of your shoes are often the first to wear out. Replace them to extend the life of your shoes.
  4. Fix holes: If the holes are too large, they may need to be replaced. Patches and stitching can be used to repair small holes.

You can extend the life of your shoes, save money in the long run, and reduce waste by following these tips.


Q: How long do shoes typically last?

A: If properly cared for, well-made shoes can last for several years if they are made of quality materials.

Q: Can all shoes be repaired?

A: Some shoes may not be worth repairing if the cost of repair is greater than the cost of buying a new pair. It depends on the extent of the damage and the type of shoes.

Q: What are some signs that my shoes need to be repaired?

A: Some signs that your shoes need to be repaired include holes, worn-out soles, broken zippers, and tears.

Q: How often should I clean my shoes?

A: It is recommended to clean your shoes regularly to prevent dirt and dust from causing damage. The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you wear them and the conditions in which you wear them.

Q: Can I donate my old shoes?

A: Yes, you can donate your old shoes to charity or sell them online. This will give your shoes a second chance at life and reduce waste.


In conclusion, taking the steps to properly care for your shoes and fix them when needed can be beneficial for both the environment and finances. It is important to invest in quality items, clean and guard them frequently, store them suitably, and mend them when required. 

Moreover, donating or offering your old footwear instead of discarding it increases their chance of a second life while also cutting down on overall waste. 

By making these types of changes, we all have our part to contribute to creating a more sustainable future.

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Tessa Reynolds
Tessa is a Denver-based writer who likes to share her knowledge and personal experience in the form of articles. When she is not writing, you can probably find her skiing with her friends in the mountains of Colorado.