How can you recycle your shoes to help people in need?

How can you recycle your shoes to help people in need
Photo: Jummie, Bigstock

In the Western world we don’t expect people to wear stuff until it falls apart – after all, we can always afford new shoes that aren’t faded or outdated. In a lot of countries, however, footwear is a luxuries that is only bought when it is absolutely needed.

That’s why a lot of organisations collect old but still usable shoes and bring them to Third World nations, where they are needed. Angel Bins, for example, collect wearable shoes in America, in partnership with local charities and organisations that need fundraising. They buy the shoes (by weight) from the group that collects them, then sell them cheaply to people in need.

How does this help people?

The benefits of this strategy are many. First, it gives Angel Bins access to the fundraising power of organisations that already enjoy widespread community support and access to a number of people who are likely to contribute the shoe drive – primarily schools and churches, but also other local activity centres. These organisations also enjoy the benefits of the fundraising.

Second, people in developing countries get access to good shoes at a fraction of the cost of new ones. This is particularly true of children’s shoes, as kids are likely to grow out of their footwear well before it becomes unusable. Cheap kids shoes help families in developing countries to save money for things like further education and food.

Thirdly people’s old shoes don’t end up in a landfill – or at least, they don’t end up in a landfill before they have been completely used up. If people buy less new shoes because they are getting cheap second hand ones then less shoes are sold overall, which reduces waste in the long run.

This particularly applies to athletic shoes – after all, kids all over the world love to play sports, and shoes make this a lot easier! Cheap second-hand shoes make it a lot more affordable for parents to give their children proper footwear, and can help the kids to be able to play.

The donated shoes are sold wholesale to entrepreneurs in various countries, which helps to create jobs in underdeveloped areas and also enables these people to use the money to support their families and grow their businesses. As these businesses grow it creates more job opportunities for those who need work.

Everyone involved is a winner, and there are no losers – this all comes from people donating their old shoes rather than throwing them out.

Shoe donation
Your old shoes can be put to good use. Photo: Pasja1000, Pixabay

How can you make a difference?

There are plenty of ways for individuals to donate their old shoes, but a much bigger difference can be made by a group of people organising a drive. A charity drive is a great way to raise money for a local cause, as well as being a good opportunity to make a difference in the world – at minimal personal cost.

It isn’t hard to organise a drive, particularly with the support of an organisation like Angel Bins that will ensure that the shoes collected goes to a place where it is needed. You just need to get the word out in your community that you are holding a shoe donations fundraiser, and encourage people to look for items that they are never going to wear again, such as old school shoes.

The whole process will be a lot easier if you can get a community group that needs regular fundraising on board, such as a school, library, church or recreation centre. These organisations will have a lot of experience with fundraising, and will also be able to get the word out about your drive. As a side benefit a worthy local cause will benefit financially as well.