Do as I say, not as I do: Donate your shoes

My old running shoes sat in the dumpster after I threw them out.

[Editor’s note: I was away on vacation and it was so expensive to use the Internet, I had to forgo blogging for a week. This post is what I finished up from a March 28 draft. Thanks for checking in while I was away!]

I have had a particularly bad year when it comes to the injuries. Last May I had hip surgery, after which I fell off my bike and got some gnarly road rash, and then I sprained my ankle when I got the all-clear to run again.

And you know what all of those things — and later the stress fracture — all had in common?

My shoes.

The Brooks running shoes I bought last Easter, almost exactly a year ago, have been on my feet in all instances of those ailments.

I didn’t even think about the relationship between said shoes and my laundry list of injuries. Not until last week, when at my last podiatrist visit, the good ol’ doc told me to get a new pair of shoes, even though the Brooks weren’t yet spent.

Usually you should replace your running shoes every nine to 12 months (maybe sooner), depending on how many miles you run in them 350-550 miles, according to Other factors like height, weight and running style should be considered as well. Since I spent most of the past year recovering instead of running, the Brooks hung on.

And when I walked out of Fleet Feet on Tuesday night with my brand spanking new pair of Asics, it occurred to me that the old pair sitting in the new pair’s box just might be cursed.

So I threw them in the dumpster. I didn’t even feel bad. (OK. I did feel slightly ashamed when I lifted the garbage bin’s lid to snap the photo above and saw a neighbor staring at me.)

I was angry, I was hurt, and, well, I was also a little — albeit irrationally — worried that those damn shoes would cause bodily harm to someone else.

What I probably should have done is donate the shoes to a worthwhile cause that gives the shoes to someone who really could use them. In fact, there are several organizations that will make sure your shoes live on in one way or another.

Check out the following organizations to learn more about donating your shoes:

The Share Your Soles Foundation has several drop-off locations in Illinois and Indiana (and according to its site, two of them are my pals at the Chicago Fleet Feet stores). Typically the shoes should be in new or like new condition, and they should be able to stand up to substantial wear. (In the runners’ case, the shoes might not be good for running anymore, but they certainly could have a lot of “regular” life left in them.)

If your shoes have had it, and are barely staying together, check out the Reuse-A-Shoe program. Nike will actually use your shoe parts to grind them down and turn them into athletic surfaces.

If your running shoes still have some mileage left in them, you can ship them to for less than you’ll pay for lunch with your work pals. The group claims that shoes help slow or stop the spread of disease.

And if you have so many pairs of shoes to donate you want to spread the love, check out the list of organizations that has come up with.

There are so many organizations it’s easy to miss some. Please feel free to share info on where you’ve donated your old shoes!



Filed under Charity, Shoes

2 responses to “Do as I say, not as I do: Donate your shoes

  1. Mary

    Most often, running shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles, depending on how many miles you log. For some runners it may be four months, for others it may be eight months.