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Don’t Throw Out Those Used Sneaks! How to Recycle Old Fitness Gear

Written on April 10, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Save your sneaks for a good cause. (Photo courtesy of Brian Maranan Pineda)

Exercising regularly means going through lots of fitness gear. Instead of just tossing out old kicks or a worn-out yoga mat, do something good for the Earth. Here are ways to recycle or reuse old workout gear.

Sneakers

  • Donate: You can toss them in a Goodwill bin, or send them to an organization that’ll put them to good use. Soles4Souls‘s tag line is “Saving the world — one pair at a time.” This organization takes your tired, but “gently worn,” sneakers and finds needy feet to fill them. They strongly suggest organizing shoe drives and mailing all the pairs to one of their three warehouse locations. Another organization, One World Running, has been serving runners around the world since 1986. Through collection programs, they are able to provide shoes for needy runners across the world. Check here for drop-off locations.
  • Recycle: Turn your old shoes into something new. Nike Reuse-A-Shoe takes all brands of sneakers that are beyond “gently worn” and turns them into a recycled product known as Nike Grind, which is used to make tracks, indoor basketball courts, fields, and playgrounds. Just drop off your retired sneakers at any Nike store, or check here for drop-off locations.
  • Reuse: Keep an old pair of sneakers around for days when you’re running or walking in the rain or on muddy trails. Some people even use old shoes as plant potters. Fill a disinfected shoe with soil and grow some basil or cilantro on your deck or windowsill.

Clothes

  • Donate: When you buy newer gear, pass on your old gear to friends or siblings, or donate them to Goodwill, a homeless shelter, or other charity store.
  • Recycle: Patagonia accepts all its products back for recycling. Either mail them to Patagonia or drop them off at a retail store.
  • Reuse: Used fitness clothes make excellent old rags for cleaning. Cut them up and store them in a bag under the kitchen sink.

Keep reading to find out what you can do with your old fitness equipment and yoga mats.

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