Runner’s Notes: Where to donate old athletic shoes

Do you ever wonder what happens to old shoes? Most of us buy 2 to 3 pairs of shoes every year. We’re talking billions of shoes every year. Interestingly, a big part of that is made up of sneakers. It’s scary to think that the number of sneakers people buy is due to increase by almost half in 2024. With all those sneakers then going to waste, perhaps there’s an alternative? There are several options, including attending a shoe drive

Where to Donate Old Sports Shoes 

  • Charities 
  • Nike Outlets
  • Non-profit organizations 
  • Your local shoe drive


Today, you can find several charities and foundations online that either recycle or help you donate your old sneakers. Examples include Soles4Souls, Hope Runs, and Shoe4Africa, amongst others. This list is by no means exhaustive. Furthermore, you’ll probably find that your local area has several options of charities available to you. 

Non-profit organisations 

Nonprofits focused on social welfare and the environment are also getting involved in helping reduce sneaker waste. For example, More Foundation is the largest non-profit organization that recycles sneakers in the US. They’ve taken this whole idea one step further because that’s how they’re funding their 1 Million Tree Project in Ghana. 

Nike Outlets

Nike has been making a huge push to promote recycling sneakers. Unfortunately, sneakers have such a big negative impact on the environment. For example, think about how much plastic is used in sneaker manufacturing? It takes about 30 to 40 years for them to decompose. Nike is therefore trying to change this by offering several drop off points for you to place your old sneakers through their “reuse-a-shoe” program. Furthermore, they accept any brand of sneakers. 

Your local shoe drive

Whilst the above options are perfectly valid, you might be tempted to consider a shoe drive instead. Either way, you can be part of one and donate your shoes. Alternatively, you could even organize a shoe drive and help your community at the same time. All this whilst having fun! 

How a Shoe Drive can Help 

  • Raise funds
  • Teamwork 
  • Entertainment
  • Support the wider community 

Raise funds

The great part of a shoe drive is that you can get money for the shoes you collect. Most non-profit shoe drive companies offer you, on average, a dollar per pound of shoes. In fact, some teams have been known to fundraise a thousand dollars and more. When you consider that a pound of shoes is roughly 2 pairs then you can do the math. Think about all those families you can target if you include your local schools, community centers, churches, and sports clubs. 


Even a simple shoe drive is a project. You’ll be working with volunteers and friends to put in place shoe drop off points and a social media campaign. It’s all about collaborating with your team and also connecting with people around you both online and offline. Make sure that you share the message in a friendly way and you’ll be bound to get more people involved.


A shoe drive is fun. You get to work with your friends and other people in your area to collect shoes. Another idea is to include a bit of an event such as a show or music to attract more people on the actual day of the shoe drive. Of course, this depends on how much you want to organize and you might prefer to keep things simple. Either way, planning a project for a great cause is good fun. 

Support the wider community 

Clearly, you’re supporting the environment when donating old athletic shoes. However, think of what you could do with the money you raise? Does your local community sports center need some new equipment? Alternatively, perhaps some of your local areas need help. Whatever cause you decide on, people will thank you for helping your wider community. 

Don’t forget that it’s not just about your local community though but also about the wider worldwide community. The shoes you collect are donated to micro-entrepreneurs in places such as Africa and South America. You’re essentially helping people build a business around second-hand shoes which is much more powerful than simply giving handouts. 

Final Recommendations for your Old Sneakers 

The amount of sneakers wasted every year is only going to go up with the growth of the sneaker market. People love their sneakers but they also constantly want the new ones that are regularly released by the various brands. So, why not help people get rid of the old ones? You’ll be doing your bit for your community and for those people across the world in emerging countries. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to contribute in such a way? Also, you’ll find that you learn some new skills and meet some new people. So, go ahead and get stuck into your next shoe drive. 

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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