Reducing Pollution from Sneaker Waste

Did you know these facts?

  • One pair of sneakers produces about 30 pounds worth of CO2 emissions, equal to keeping a 100-watt light bulb on for a week.
  • We make sneakers from synthetic fibers and a host of other toxic petroleum-derived compounds that emit harmful gases when incinerated at landfills.
  • The lifespan of a typical pair of sneakers continues long after its useful life is over. Only a small percentage of shoes are recycled which means a lot more end up in municipal landfills.

A single pair of sneakers takes about 8000 liters of water to produce. That said, here’s how you can help reduce pollution from sneaker waste:

Resell or Donate Your Old/Unwanted Sneakers.

Selling your unwanted sneakers is a great way to keep them out of landfills while making money on the side. Thrifting, a term coined to describe the resale of previously owned clothing items, is a quickly rising trend that is reducing pollution from sneaker waste. If you’re feeling charitable, donating your old kicks is another great way to help reduce waste.

Several non-profits dedicated to collecting used clothing items accept donations, which are sent to lesser privileged parts of the world. This way, old sneakers get a second chance at life and the environment gets a much-needed reprieve.


If your favorite pair/s of sneakers are a bit too beat up to pass onto a new owner, you might want to consider recycling them. Several sneaker brands offer programs aimed at recycling used or unwanted sneakers.

Nike, for instance, offers the Reuse-a-Shoe initiative that repurposes material from old unwanted sneakers into sporting surfaces such as gym floors, running tracks, courts, and more. The plastics, rubber, foam, textile fibers, and leather from old sneakers can also be separated, ground up, and used to craft new sneakers.

Only Buy Sneakers Made from Recycled Materials.

By chooring sneakers made from recycled materials, you are knowingly or unknowingly supporting environmental conservation. You are helping keep our environment free from toxic waste. Responsible purchase decisions drive sustainable production methods that consequently help push the environmental protection agenda.

There is no one-size-fits-all fix to sneaker and fashion-related pollution challenges. The aim as always is to keep the carbon footprint low and minimize damage to the environment. The good news is that more and more footwear brands are moving towards sustainability. Does this mean your sneakers will be made of biodegradable, non-hazardous, and recycled components in the not-so-distant future? We definitely think so. In the meantime, you can make small impacts through your own efforts such as sending your sneakers to our time after you are finished with them.

GotSneakers has saved over 200 million pairs of sneakers from ending up in landfills while helping to cut back on the harmful chemicals that pollute the environment. Click here to receive your FREE Clean Out Kit and to send us your sneakers today.


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