Giving Your Worn Shoes a New Purpose

April 18, 2012 View all articles in Re-Use-It

Those old shoes and boots sitting in your closet are more than just landfill-fodder. If you aren't using your kickers anymore there are still plenty of other ways to make them useful to others and yourself. This year instead of chucking your shoes or boots into the garbage when they get a bit worn out, consider one of the following greener upcycling/recycling options:


Make a doorstop : If you have an old shoe with no holes, fill the shoe with plaster or cement and then let it dry. Use a little spray paint or acrylic paint on the outside of the shoe to give it a unique design. Prop open your door with your re-used shoe and let in some fresh air.

Re-soul your socks : Are your shoes worn out but the soul is still intact? Try cutting the soul off the shoe and Sho-Goo the rubber to the bottom of a pair of heavy-duty socks. You'll instantly have a pair of handy non-slip house slippers that will both keep your feet warm and give you a little extra grip in the kitchen.

Grind them up: Nike's Reuseashoe program is a fantastic way to put those old shoes and boots to use. If you donate your old shoes to Nike's program, the company will grind them up for use in recycled gym floors, running tracks, and sidewalks. Recycling your old shoes this way will help cut down on waste and gives others something other than concrete to walk and run on.

Resole your shoes: Most people don't realize this but those old shoes and boots can sometimes be re-soled for less money than it takes to purchase a new pair at the store. Do a little research and see if you can find a shoe repair shop nearby. Take those old work boots or high tops in and get them repaired on the cheap. You will do your part to save the environment and your wallet will thank you.

Send your shoes in: Several online companies are more than happy to fix your old and broken down shoes. Websites like and will have your old shoes shipped to them, repair them, and then turn around and mail them back to you for a fair price.

Donate them: One of the easiest (and best) ways to recycle your old shoes is to donate them to local charities or second-hand stores. Your shoes will find new life with a new owner and the proceeds for the sale always go to great charities.

Make a little cash: If you've got a nose for business, try selling your shoes or boots for a little money. So long as they are still in good shape you can try selling them at your local consignment shop or online. You will have to pay a small portion of the sale to the shop or online auction website, but the money you make after the sale can goes right into your pocket instead of the landfill.

Make a potted plant: This is an old classic for shoe and boot upcycling: place a small flower pot in your old shoe or boot and fill it with potting soil. Plant a flower or herb of your choice in the pot and put it outside where it will get plenty of sun and moisture. Before you know it you'll have a colorful (and creative) new flower-pot to brighten up your front porch, sidewalk, or garden.

Organize your pens and pencils: If you are in a pinch and need something to hold all of those pens and pencils, try using one of your old shoes or boots as a pen and pencil holder. Your new pencil/pen holder will make a creative conversation piece for your desktop!

Do a shoe-swap: Organize a few friends and family members together for a night of food, fellowship, and shoes. So long as a few people in the group have the same sized feet, your group can swap those lightly-used shoes for something newer or more desirable. Make sure you wear socks!

Give them to the needy: There are lots of people around the world in need of a pair of shoes. Consider donating your old shoes or boots to Soles4Souls and rest assured those old kickers are going to someone who really needs them.


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