Old Running Shoes

Whenever people buy their new running shoes, they often think, what to do with the old ones? or You just might want to replace your old poor-conditioned running shoes, the question comes, Should I throw them or reuse them? In this article, I will be sharing 9 Amazing ways to recycle and reuse your old running shoes without throwing them in the trash.

Certainly, there are many useful ways to use old running shoes without throwing them. you just need to figure out yourself and think of more creative or eco-friendly ideas to use old running shoes again. After all, you’ve spent so much time with your old running shoes, you may don’t get rid of them.

Finding a new use for them is the best way to go with them and to make it easier, I’ve mentioned several eco-friendly ways to get rid or reuse your old running shoes.

Reuse Your Shoes: Where There Are Chances Of Getting Dirty

If your old running shoes still are in good condition and their cushioning is still warm, you can consider reusing them for some purposes. Those purposes may include:

  • Wear your old running shoes for non-traditional type races like The Color Run, 5-kilometer paint race, inspired by Hindu Festival of Holi, short distance, and very easy pace.
  • Use your old running shoes to work in the garden where shoes can get messy. Such works are cutting the grass or painting the walls so that you won’t have to worry about them.
  • These shoes are perfect for events, where there are chances of getting them dirty or messy. You can’t even think of wearing your newest pair, so you go with your old ones. A mud run is a better example of that. That mud may or may not come off from your running shoes. So it’s best to wear your old running shoes.

And, when your old running shoes are ready to be retired after reusing them, consider recycling, or donating.

Donate Your Shoes to No-Profit Organisations

Every runner needs a new pair of sneakers or running shoes, not only runners but shoes mean a lot in the life of many people. So, they end up buying the new pair once their old pair get damage. Donating your old shoes is far better than throwing them in the trash.

The donation will give someone happiness of getting a thing to some people. Many times people get confused about donation and how you can do that, You have some good options for donating beyond any local thrift store and those options are:

Soles 4 Souls

It is a non-profit organization that redistributes shoes for those in need. Any individual, retailer, and shoe company can donate footwear, whether it’s new or old. This organization tends to breaks the cycle of poverty and help create jobs through the distribution process. They even organize work trips for groups to give out the shoes. 

They do really great stuff, I was really impressed by what they do and even donated some of my old shoes to them. Watch this video and you’ll learn how they are doing this.


Go check them out here.

Shoe 4 Africa

A charitable organization whose goal is to empowerment through sports and education, promote aid awareness, and create a unique health initiative. They listen to the needs and add value to assist their solution, bring in help and assistance.

One World Running

A non-profit that collects shoes that aren’t worn out to be distributed to runners in Africa and weak areas in the US. It was started after sports journalist Mike Sandrock visited west Africa and was influenced to do good and make a change.

Hope Runs

It is a non-profit group working in Kenya and Tanzania that uses athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. They accept running shoes with other donations.

The Shoe Bank

The shoe bank provides shoes for over 25000 people every year, mostly children. You can donate your old running shoes here also.

Warren Striders Track Club, Inc.

It is a non-profit, charitable youth track and field development organization that provides running shoes to local and areas with low or moderate-income families. It gives to those who are often unable to buy new running shoes for their children.

Sole for Planet Earth

Shoes donated in this organization are given to those who need them in Australia, Asia, and Africa because this is based out of Sydney, Australia.

If there are so many organizations where shoes can be donated, so think of it that how many people, especially children, are not able to purchase their shoes. So it is better not to throw them but to donate them.

You can donate your shoes to any of these websites, they all are the best in their field. I would highly suggest you donate your old running shoes.

Recycle Your Shoes

Some companies do recycle programs. They accept different kinds of shoes, and they would take your old running shoes also. They use ground-up materials to make many other things. The rubber in shoes can be used for baseball and soccer fields.

The foam can be used for synthetic basketball courts, and playground surfacing. And the cloth upper fabric can be used for padding underneath basketball courts.

They are probably the best and the easiest thing you can do with your running shoes. I suggest you do so if your shoes are in very poor condition to be worn out by any other person. By poor condition I mean, something like:

Poor Condition Shoes
Shoes In a Terrible Condition

Now, below are those two widespread recycling programs to recycle to your old running shoes:

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe

In 1993, Nike started this shoe recycling program called Reuse-A-Shoe which is a great initiative. Basically, their program recycles athletic shoes, no matter how poor the condition is Nike will give them a new living through Nike Grind. They grind the material and use them for many other things like in the making of courts, ground, etc.

Don’t worry if your shoes are not of Nike brand as they accept shoes from any brand until and unless they are not sandals, dress shoes, or boots. And they recycle running shoes so no need to worry about that.

For this, you need to drop your old running shoes at a Nike retail store, contact them before you go. Consider watching the following video to learn exactly how they do it.


Learn more about Nike’s Reuse-A-shoe here.


TerraCycle is a private US company that works to recycle almost everything that cannot be recycled on the curb. Not only running shoes but food wrappers, cigarette butts, water filters, and e-waste. This companies headquartered is in Trenton, New Jersey. But it works in 20 different countries to eliminate the idea of waste.

Now, how you can send your old running shoes to TerraCycle? Go to its website and Simply choose the program you’d like to join. You can either take the waste to drop-off locations or download free shipping labels to send your waste material in a parcel to be recycled.

Once your shoes get to TerraCycle, they work to process them and send them to the right places. The collected waste is mechanically or manually separated into fabrics, fibers, metals, and plastics. This is a great program for a group to participate in.

Learn more about Terra Cycle here.

Resell Your Shoes

If the condition of your old shoes is not too bad, then reselling can be a great option. Your shoes probably need a better life which they can get from someone who needs them a lot more but doesn’t have much money to purchase them.

There are many people who buy used or 2nd hand products because they have lesser money.

Many thrift stores and shipment shops appraise clothes and shoes brought for resale. It is very easy to get started.

Just look for a thrift store nearest to you, don’t worry if you don’t know any, go to Thethriftshopper.com and enter your location, then it will show you a list of thrift stores near you, pick the one nearest to you and reach out to them. Another alternative to this would be Buffalo Exchange, they also provide great services of reselling.

If you are unable to find a store near you that takes old shoes, you can sell them online on websites like eBay, Thredup, Flyp, etc. You can also read this article to find some more helpful sites to sell your shoes online.

Use Your Shoes In Your Garden – Make Planters, etc.

Plants can be grown in pretty much everything, whether is an old water bottle, or an old shoe. You can try turning your old running shoes into a flower pot. All you need is some dirt, seeds, water, and sunlight to grow them. You can clean, disinfect and drill a drainage hole in your old running shoes before turning them into a planter so that it looks clean and beautiful when it’s grown.

Turning your old shoes into planters will give them a new purpose and besides that, it’s great for the environment too. You can buy some eco-friendly paint also to decorate your new planters to make them eye-catching. Remember to water your plant regularly and replace the soil often.

There a lot of other ways as well how you can utilize your shoes in your garden, the following video covers some of those great ways.


Running Shoe Drive Fundraiser 

This idea is an eco-friendly way to get rid of old running shoes. If you have an organized running group or have a lot of friends who can participate to run, then this can be an easy way to get them involved in such an environmentally friendly way. All you need is:

  • To gather your friends or a group of running community and explain to them your idea.
  • Collect gently worn, used, old and new running shoes.
  • Place the donated pairs of running shoes in a pre-paid shipping bags provided by the fundraising coordinators.
  • Ship your bags free of charge from the nearest UPS store to any selected shoe organization.
  • And receive a check

Everyone has old sneakers lying around in the house that they haven’t worn in months and they would be willing to give away. So why not go with a good source instead of letting them throw out.

Make a Birdhouse or a Bird Feeder

 If you wish to give back to the environment, try turning your old running shoes into a birdhouse! An easy and great way to use old sneakers by giving birds a new house to live in. You just simply grab your unwanted athletic shoe or running shoes and nail them to a tree through the heel.

You’ll need to stuff the toe of the shoe with something so that when birds chose to visit, they don’t get stuck in the toe of the shoe. It will take some time for birds to come and settle in your built shoe house, but at some point, you’ll notice a family of birds inhabiting your old running shoe.

Paint Your Old Running Shoe


Your favorite running shoes are getting old and so the color of your shoes is fading up you are not quite ready to get rid of them, just paint them. If they are in wearable condition but you just don’t like their looks, then nothing could be better than painting them.

A new fresh look on your shoes will change things dramatically, I would highly suggest you to do so if your shoes are in wearable condition, once I was bored up with my running shoes after 2 years of usage and I did the same, I painted them and they were like new and worked well for me for the next 1 year but then the sole broke and so I then went to a shoe shop and tried fixing them and I donated them.

Watch some videos and get some ideas of how you want to paint your favorite shoes. Grab your favorite but eco-friendly paint and be creative on your old running shoes. This can be done with any solid-colored running shoes. You can give them to your kids for their school or local art classes.  

The Anest Air Brush is the best air brush ever, I have seen many people using it.

Host a Shoe Swap

You’re tired of your old running shoes, you can swap them with shoes from your friends or families. For this, you need to reach out to your friends, and family, or other people as much as possible to participate. They also get tired of their old shoes as you do, so they will perform this activity.

Once you have a sufficient amount of participants, have them gather their unwanted running shoes, regardless of their condition. Whenever they all are ready, they can swap athletic shoes with each other’s. and any of the shoes that go unclaimed can be donated to shoe drive fundraisers. It’s a quick and easy way to rehome your old running shoes. 

This works, I have swapped my shoes with my friends a couple of times now and it just works okay and may work for for many of you.

Bonus: Look For Other DIY Creative Ideas

There are many other creative things you can do with your shoes, watch the video below, they have covered some very cool DIY ideas. Although, they are not as easy as they seem in the video, honestly, I spent a hard time doing them in my own shoes but I have seen this work for some people.



So, these were some of the things you can do with your old running shoes. If your shoes are wearable and have an average condition and you are just tired of your shoes, the best thing you can do is a donation to charity or NPOs, you can reuse your shoes where your shoes in activities that may make you dirty, resell your shoes, and you can paint your shoes as well and make them as if they were new.

If your running shoes are in terrible condition, the best thing you can do is recycling – Nike has an amazing recycling program, apart from that you can also make a bird feeder or a birdhouse with that, and you can do a lot of other DIY things with your shoes.

A little back story, when my running shoes got old, I painted them and used them, and when the condition got worse, I donated them, I also resold one of my running shoes when I basically didn’t liked them that much.

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