It’s no secret that gear waste is a massive problem in our industry. Despite impactful advances in sustainability in recent years, the end-of-life phase for most activewear gear, especially footwear, remains a problem — as recycling for products like shoes and boots is notoriously difficult and expensive.
This month, in honor of Earth Day, our parent company Outside has launched a large-scale shoe drive in cooperation with Tennessee-based organization Soles4Souls to help fix the problem. Headquartered in Nashville, Soles4Souls accepts donations of used shoes and clothing across the U.S., repurposing those products to supply micro-enterprises, disaster relief programs, and direct-assistance efforts all over the world. In other words, the group not only saves gear from the landfill, it helps people in need by repurposing shoes for good causes.
Since 2006, Soles4Souls has kept more than 68 million pounds of waste out of landfills. Additionally, extending the life of a pair of shoes helps save approximately 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions generated by manufacturing a new pair.
If you have piles of old shoes and boots lying around your home — or even just a pair or two you no longer use — consider saving them from the landfill by donating though Outside’s drive. It’s quick, easy, and best of all, completely free for you.
How Outside’s Shoe Drive Works
The process for donating shoes is super simple. Just navigate to Outside’s campaign page hosted on the Soles4Souls website and follow three steps:
- Print and fill out a donor form
- Box up your shoes with the completed donor form
- Print a free shipping label, courtesy of Soles4Souls’ partnership with Zappos, and drop the box in the mail
Note: To print out the Zappos label, you’ll need to sign in with your Zappos account, or an Amazon or Gmail account if you prefer.
Shoes can be of any kind, other than highly technical footwear like rock climbing shoes and ski boots. Donors can ship up to 50 pounds of shoes per box, with no limit on the number of boxes sent.
Since its founding in 2006, Soles4Souls has kept more than 51 million pounds of shoes and clothing out of landfills.
“We focus on three main program areas to fulfill our mission,” the company says in its promotional materials. First is free distribution: “We distribute new shoes, donated by our corporate partners, to people in need in the U.S. and around the world.” The second focus is micro-enterprise: “We help hard-working entrepreneurs build their own small businesses selling donated shoes.” Finally, impact travel is one of the company’s specialties, achieved through its Global Experiences program: “Traveling on a Soles4Souls Global Experience is a great way to learn new cultures, meet amazing people, and play a hands-on role in distributing shoes to people in need.”