Are Shoe Boxes Recyclable? Ideas for Reusing.

Shoe Boxes recycle

If you’re like me you have recycled a shoebox by putting it in your closet holding some random items to keep organized. Recycling makes sense so I can hold all those smaller items that I need to be stored away.

Shoe boxes can be recycled in many ways. My personal preference is to label and use them for storage. When I don’t need them, I recycle them in my city recycling bin.

What can you do with your shoebox? Most are great for stacking and holding just enough one type of item, making them the perfect storage box.

How to Recycle Your Shoe Box?

You can recycle your cardboard in the recycling bin or use it again for some type of storage or craft item.

When considering what to do with your shoebox, look at the material it is made out of.

Some boxes are constructed stronger than others. Some are better for storage because they remain level when other boxes are placed on top. Some boxes are flimsy and might not work for your needs, and might need to be put in the recycle bin.

Take a look at your organizational (article) or craft needs around the house and see if it will satisfy anything you’ve been wanting to do? Here are a couple of examples.

  • Storage for your socks. Don’t forget you can take off the shoe box top and have an open box to display your items.
  • Store all your cans or other food items of the same type in a closed or open shoe box.
  • Garden tool container for the shed.
  • All those pencils, markers, paint brushes, and pens might need a home.

Use it for composting material for your yard. If it is corrugated cardboard, the type with wavy layers inside, this will work well as compost.

Other types of cardboard-like paperboard will work for compositing but may take a little longer to compost.

As long as the box doesn’t have lots of dyes or lamination you can use it for composting.

  • Tear it into small pieces if you want and add water.
  • Mix it with other garden waste.
  • 50% of the material should be green material like grass and 50% should be brown material like cardboard. This will help the mixture compost well.
  • Make sure you water it about once in a week to make sure it is decomposing.
  • In 2-6 months you’ll have made soil to use in your garden.

If you can’t find a use for your shoebox, it’s time to recycle. This could be as easy as putting in your recycle bin for the city to pick up.

But you may have other options you’d like to pursue.

  • Collect lots of cardboard and recycle it at the local recycling center.
  •  Flattening or cutting the cardboard so more will fit in your recycle bin.
  • Making a grass sled to slide down a hill. (Ok, not very likely with a shoe box.)
  • Using it to knock down with your remote control car.

Don’t forget to eventually place your shoe box in a recycle bin and save a tree the fate of “TIMBER!”

You’ll be helping to provide your city the ability to make some money, possibly, and save the environment from another few yards of waste material. Good job!

Ideas for Using Your Shoebox

If you think that you can reuse your shoebox, you’re not alone. There are possibly hundreds of ways to use them.

Some people enjoy using them for crafting. What kind of craft would you do? Here’s a list of craft ideas to try yourself.

  • Make a mouse house. All sorts of animals love to hide out in boxes. Rats, hamsters, mice, and other small animals may want to have a secure place to hide, rest, and explore.
  • Use contact paper or decorate your box the way you like. Adding that extra layer of paper will help your box last longer for what you have in mind.
  • Place all of your art supplies on it. You can use smaller containers to divide the box into sections and place crayons, markers, pencils, paint brushes, erasers, and watercolors.
  • There are several sites that suggest using your shoe box for wire organization. You place your power strip in the box and cut out holes in the side so the wires can go to your various devices. Decorate if you want and you’ve organized that mess of wires.
  • Organize those makeup products and fingernail polish bottles.
  • Place a dowel in the middle to the box and slide ribbon onto it to make a ribbon holder box. (Amazon Link)

Now go explore! There are many ways to be creative with your shoebox.

Is Your Cardboard Recyclable?

The cardboard-like paper uses recyclable materials most of the time. But like paper, there are a few things to watch out for.

  • If the box is mostly dye free, and not saturated with colors like a poster, then it’s good to recycle.
  • If the box is free of food particles, grease, wetness, it can be recycled.
  • If the box is free of plastics or wax, such as milk or juice boxes, then you can recycle.
  • If your not sure about whether your box is recyclable or where to recycle your materials you might try this website

An exception to the rules is decided on a city-by-city basis.

Some cities will accept boxes that have wax or plastic covering. So contact their website and call their recycling program for more information

What happens to your cardboard when you recycle it?

Usually, the city will sort all the like items, and send them out to be recycled at a plant designed to take that material. For shoe boxes, the recycling plant would usually follow these steps.

  1. Wet each box, chop and make into pulp.
  2. Then it is cleaned and bleached.
  3. The pulp is pressed and rolled into paper.
  4. The paper is designed into a new shoe box.

You’ll be able to tell if you have a 100% recyclable box if it is made out of cardboard or paperboard. Paperboard is the material that cereal boxes are usually made out of. These are recyclable as well.

Should I keep My Shoebox or recycle it?


Keeping and recycling are the same things, reusing something again just in a different way. Personally, I would definitely keep a shoebox if I have space.

My personal uses for shoeboxes are for storage or gift boxes. They can be used in some of the following ways if you decide to keep them.

  • Shoeboxes are great for helping out with art supplies (Amazon Link) because if something leaks, the box will likely absorb the water or paint.
  • You can use them to organize items, once you’ve got an idea.
  • They make the perfect size for gift giving.
  • Use it in your latest art projects or home decor.
  • If you’ve decided to go minimalistic, you’ll need some small boxes to organize and create that beautiful open space that brings peace of mind.

Can I Recycle My Old Shoes?

Yes. The first places to recycle (article) old shoes are garage sales and thrift stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

If your shoes are no longer serviceable, then you can possibly recycle them in the following ways.

  • Go to a Nike store if you have any type of athletic shoes, and drop them in their shoe recycle bin. They will take the rubber bottom, foam midsole, and upper fabric to use again in their products.
  • Unfortunately, the list of recycling drop off centers for an unusable shoe is small. Addidas and Asics are starting their own program on a small scale.
  • Repair your shoes. (Amazon Link) Get some shoe glue, go to a cobbler or use another repair method.
  • Don’t put them in your city recycle bin because that could cause problems with the city recycling machines. They have yet made a way to recycle shoes.
  • Don’t forget about artistic expression. Reuse your old shoe in some artistic or interesting way. Shoe planter anyone?
Old rubber boots with blooming flowers

Thanks for visiting

Related Questions

→What school projects can I use with a shoebox?

Using a shoebox for a diorama is a great idea. Items can be used to display such things as, environments for animals, historical events, and artistic rendering. And don’t forget the robots.

→What items fit best in shoeboxes?

Shoe boxes, depending on you their height, are great places to hold socks. If you roll your socks a shoebox can hold about eight pairs. How about shoes you only wear occasionally? They are the perfect storage for your annual or occasional use shoes.


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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