Old Running Shoes [Sell vs. Recycle]

Old Running Shoes [Sell vs Recycle]

We usually threw away our old running shoes in the past, but things are changing for the better. Unfortunately, tossing old shoes in the trash add to landfills. Looking for alternatives helps us be responsible shoe owners.

If your running shoes are extremely old and worn out, you can give them to a local recycling program. They take your old shoes and recycle their materials. Another great option is to reuse old running shoes to create something new, like turning them into planters or a birdhouse.

However, if your running shoes are in good condition and you want to earn a few dollars, you can sell them to a secondhand shoe store, a thrift store, or online. You can also donate your old running shoes to non-profit organizations that distribute shoes to those in need.

Depending on the condition of your old running shoes, here are a few ideas:

IdeasConditionsWhere To Do It?
Recycle Your Old Running ShoesIf your shoes are extremely old, worn out, cannot be used, and can’t be saved anymore.Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe
Create Something With Your Old Running ShoesIf you are into DIYs, you want to experiment or be creative.
You want to reuse them.
You love them and can’t let go of them.
Turn your old running shoes into planters, birdhouses, bird feeders, or stepping stones.
Resell Your Old Running ShoesIf your running shoes are in good condition, almost new, or slightly used.
You don’t like them.
If you have any size issues, foot issues, wrong size, or ill-fitted.
They do not conform to your foot shape.
A secondhand shoe store or a thrift store
Facebook marketplace
Donate Your Old Running ShoesIf you got bored of them.
You don’t want to use them anymore.
They seem old to you but might be new to someone else.
You want to help someone.
One World Running
Shoes to Shoe 4 Africa
The Shoe Bank
Sole for Planet Earth
Ideas for Old Running Shoes 

Although running shoes are made with tough and durable materials, they cannot last forever. You can do several things with your old running shoes instead of throwing them in the bin. Let’s have a look at them:

Recycle Your Old Running Shoes

When your running shoes are old and cannot be used or saved anymore, you need to get rid of them. You can let go of your favorite running shoes in several ways. But do not just throw your old running shoes in the bin since they take very long to decompose and may release plasticizers or heavy chemicals into the environment.

Recycling your old running shoes would be a good idea if you are an environmental-minded runner or care about the planet.

Find A Local Shoe Recycling Program

If you want to recycle your old running shoes, you first need to find a local shoe recycling program. Unfortunately, you can’t recycle your old running shoes along with cans or plastic bottles since it is a more complicated process.

Shoes are made from different materials and parts stitched or glued together, so recycling them is more complicated. However, many companies offer recycling programs.

Moreover, you can find recycling locations with the right equipment and knowledge to break down your shoe material and repurpose it.

You have to research finding a local drop-off location, specialty recyclers in your area, or send your old running shoes to a national or local shoe recycling program.

You can ship your old running shoes to companies that work with hard-to-recycle materials. These companies accept a variety of shoes. They take your old shoes and break down their materials to make other things. 

The rubber from your old shoes is used to make soccer or baseball fields, and the upper fabric is used to pad basketball courts. Also, the foam from your old running shoes can be used for surfacing synthetic basketball courts and playgrounds.

These are the two most common shoe recycling programs:

  • Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe
  • TerraCycle

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe

Nike has created an interesting shoe recycling program called the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program is one of the most widely known shoe recycling programs. 

You can drop off your used, worn-out, old running shoes at any Nike retail store and give them a second life. No matter how old or worn out your athletic shoes are, they accept them regardless of the brand. However, they do not take sandals, boots, or dress shoes.

Basically, this program grinds down your old athletic shoes and creates a new material known as Nike grind. This material is then used to make surfaces like running tracks, basketball courts, grounds, and fields. These materials are now even used for sweatshirts, footwear, and mannequins. [Examining the Viability of Corporate Recycling Initiatives and Their Overall Environmental Impact: The Case of Nike Grind and the Reuse-A-Shoe Program]


Another popular recycling program is TerraCycle. They specialize in hard-to-recycle materials.

TerraCycle is a US-based company that deals with recycling almost everything from food wrappers and water filters to footwear and cigarette butts. They deal in nearly 20 countries aimed at eliminating waste.

You have to visit their website and choose the program you want to join. Then, you can either drop off your old running shoes at their location or order a box, fill it with your old running shoes and ship them.

They accept any type of shoes, including heels, loafers, boots, etc. However, this program is not free; you must pay $129 to order a zero-waste box.

Upon receiving your shoes, they will either manually or mechanically separate plastics, metals, fabrics, and fibers for recycling or repurposing.

Create Something With Your Old Running Shoes

Another word for recycling is upcycling or reusing.

If you’re into DIYs or want to be creative, you can reuse your old running shoes. When you no longer wish to wear old shoes, you can reuse them to create something new.

Runing shoes are like best friends that you do not want to lose. So, if you have an old pair of running shoes that you don’t want to throw away or donate, you can reuse them and let them stay in your home forever.

There are so many ways of reusing your old running shoes. For example, you can cut off their backs and use them as slippers, wear them for gardening or painting walls, and turn them into planters or a birdhouse.

In addition, reusing your old running shoes is a simple way to be a little responsible toward the environment. Being responsible for the environment isn’t too difficult or tedious. In fact, it’s fun since you’re giving a new life to your old shoes; let’s see how:

Turn Your Old Running Shoes into Planters

Turning your old running shoes into planters is a great way to repurpose them, and it is eco-friendly as well.

Plants can grow in almost anything from a water bottle to an old shoe. So, you can turn your old running shoe into a flower pot. You only need some seeds, dirt, sunlight, and water to grow them.

  • Clean your old running shoes, disinfect them, and drill a few holes in the soles for adequate drainage.
  • Cleaning your shoes will make them look beautiful when grown. 
  • You can also add a layer of rocks at the bottom to give your planters some weight and additional drainage.
  • If you want to be a little more creative, paint your shoes to add some eye-catching color to your planters.
  • Water them regularly and replace their soil when needed.

Turn Your Old Running Shoes into A Birdhouse

Another excellent idea for your old running shoes is turning them into a birdhouse. It’s simple, eco-friendly, and beneficial for the birds since you give them a new home.

  • Grab your unwanted, worn-out, and old running shoes.
  • Make sure to stuff the toe of your shoes with something so birds will not get stuck when they come.
  • Nail them to different parts of a tree through their heels.
  • Eventually, you will see a family of birds living in your old shoes.

Turn Your Old Running Shoes into A Bird Feeder

Another great idea for old running shoes is turning them into a bird feeder.

  • Remove the soles of your old running shoes.
  • Fill them with birdseed.
  • Nail them to different parts of a tree through their heels.
  • But you have to keep an eye on it to ensure they are always filled.
  • The birds will love it, and you may inspire others to do the same.

Turn Your Old Running Shoes into Stepping Stones

If you have several pairs of old running shoes, turning them into stepping stones is a great idea to reuse them. It is a simple, practical, and eco-friendly way to reuse them.

  • Clean all your old running shoes well.
  • Paint the soles of your running shoes.
  • Mount them to the ground.
  • Make sure their soles are facing up.
  • And you’re done! 
  • You will have an innovative feature in your garden, and kids will enjoy hopping between pairs.

Resell Your Old Running Shoes

If your running shoes are in good condition, you can sell them to a secondhand shoe store, a thrift store, or online. In addition, it allows you to earn a few dollars or to upgrade to a better pair of running shoes.

There are several reasons for selling your running shoes. For example, if you bought them online and didn’t like their look, you got the wrong size, or you got bored with your running shoes.

Here are a few reasons why selling your running shoes is a good option:

  • Mistakenly bought a pair of running shoes.
  • Mistakenly got the wrong-sized shoe.
  • Your running shoes are expensive, and you don’t want to donate.
  • You want to upgrade to a new pair of running shoes.
  • Someone gifted you, and you don’t like them.
  • Despite loving them in the store, you don’t wear them anymore.
  • You have several pairs of running shoes lying around.

Many less fortunate people buy secondhand products, including shoes, for a lower price. So, if your running shoes aren’t too old, reselling them can be a great option. It will also help someone who needs them but cannot afford new ones.

One of the easiest ways to sell your running shoes is to directly connect with a local buyer. It’s the easiest and fastest way of selling your shoes and getting your hands on some cash.

I recommend selling your running shoes locally since you won’t have to drive to the post office or pay for shipping. But make sure to be safe while meeting a local buyer.

Be careful when setting up a meeting spot. I would suggest choosing a well-lit public place for the meeting. Also, schedule your meeting during the day and take a friend along if possible.

You can find any local secondhand shop or thrift store near you. If you can’t find them offline, there are several online portals and websites where you can sell your old running shoes.

Here are a few online options:

Facebook Marketplace

Besides being a popular social media platform, Facebook has expanded its capabilities. For example, they have introduced a virtual marketplace, the Facebook marketplace.

It is an effortless and convenient way where you can find and concert with local sellers and buyers.

You need to post pictures of your running shoes online and their price; local buyers will contact you if they need them. Then, once you’ve agreed on the price, you can arrange a time and place for the meeting.


Craigslist is another online place where you can sell your old running shoes. It is a free platform to sell and purchase locally. You just have to post your shoes on their website for your area, and someone will contact you who need them.

Donate Your Old Running Shoes

Another great idea for your old running shoes is donating them. Donating your old running shoes is a great eco-friendly disposal method. Giving them to someone in need is far better than throwing them in the trash.

Used or old isn’t the same for everyone. Someone else might find a treasure in shoes that seem old or useless to you. Many less fortunate people lack adequate footwear. A great way to address this issue is to donate your old shoes.

There are several pairs of running shoes lying around in our closet that we rarely use. Instead of randomly throwing them away, why not go for a good cause. The shoes you donate will go to someone who will benefit most from them.

If your shoes are slightly old or used, consider donating them. It will give happiness to someone, and trust me; you will be even happier. Nonetheless, for someone to truly enjoy your shoes, you should clean them before donating.

But if you are confused about how to donate them, there are many programs and organizations that distribute shoes to those in need. Some of them also deliver shoes to poor countries.

Here are a few options you can go for:

Recycling and reusing old running shoes are eco-friendly ways to declutter your shoe collection. Unfortunately, secondhand or thrift stores aren’t the best places to donate your running shoes. However, if your shoes are slightly used, you have several options for donations.

One World Running

One World Running is a Colorado-based organization that has been donating running shoes to less fortunate runners. They also donate medicine and school supplies to developing countries.

They collect your slightly used shoes or athletic wear at shops or events, clean them and ship them. They mostly ship used athletic wear and shoes to Central America and Africa. 

Those running shoes that are extremely old/worn out and don’t meet their standards are sent to Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program for recycling.


Soles4Souls is one of the top non-fit organizations in the country that collects and donates shoes and other items to unprivileged people so they can go to school or work.

Soles4Souls collects your used clothes and shoes, partners with other organizations, and distributes them around the globe. In addition, they provide recycling programs for different brands in the US, such as Asics and Columbia.

Their aim is not just about recycling; they aim to distribute old shoes and clothes to people worldwide. They turn your unwanted clothes and shoes into opportunities.

Soles4Souls strives to distribute old shoes and clothes to needy people worldwide, not just recycle them. Anyone can donate shoes, clothes, or other items, whether new, old or slightly used. They want to break the chain of poverty and offer jobs through this distribution program.

You can also donate your old running shoes to the following non-profit organizations:

  • Shoes to Shoe 4 Africa is a charitable organization dedicated to empowering people through sports and education.
  • The Shoe Bank: They donate shoes to more than 25000 people annually.
  • Sole for Planet Earth: They donate your shoes to the needy and unprivileged people in Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Ideas for Old Running Shoes 

  1. Recycle Your Old Running Shoes (Extremely old and worn-out)
  2. Create Something With Your Old Running Shoes (Extremely old and worn-out)
  3. Donate Your Old Running Shoes (slightly old or gently used)
  4. Resell Your Old Running Shoes (slightly old, gently used, size issues)

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