Giving New Life To Unwanted Shoes

By on April 21, 2013

Have you ever seen a muddy mountain of shoes before?  If you said yes then you have probably seen the large pile of shoes that people leave after completing an obstacle race or mud run.

With the growing number of races popping up every day, there are even more people looking to ditch their dirty/wet/muddy shoes than ever before.  This has created an amazing organic partnership between some of the most popular races and some very worthy causes.

For organizations like Green Sneakers and Soles4Souls this has been a great way to to help their cause by keeping unwanted shoes out of landfills and on to the feet of those most in need.  

These types of organizations work to bring new life to unwanted sneakers by cleaning them up and sending them to countries most in need.  Soles4Souls has sent shoes to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and to gulf coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. They have distributed over 19 million pairs to people in 125 countries since the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.


These organizations also work with micro enterprises programs in third world countries.  These programs help impoverished people with the resources to start and maintain their own business.  They are able to purchase like-new shoes at very little cost to resell in marketplaces in developing countries.   They believe the best way to eliminate poverty is by giving people a way of supporting themselves and their families. It allows them to utilize used shoes that are inappropriate for crisis relief – such as high-heeled shoes – and shoes that need cleaning or conditioning in order to be useful. It also provides a low cost source of shoes for the local population without undermining the local economy with a large supply of free shoes.

Less than 1% of all donations received cannot be reused but do not end up in landfills.  These organizations are taking their green cause one step further by taking these unusable shoes and directing them to a waste to energy facility where they are used to produce environmentally clean and renewable energy.

If you are interested in holding your own shoe drive, please reach out to any of the organizations listed below.  They will help you plan and organize your own shoe drive to help those in need and the environment as well.

Shoe Donations

About Laurie Hale

Laurie hosts a podcast with her husband called Getting Dirty with Daniel and Laurie. It is a bi-weekly podcast that focusing on the ins and outs of obstacle racing, interviews with race directors and tips and tricks to get you on your way to participating in your first obstacle race.

You can also catch up with Laurie at the Getting Dirty Blog where she writes about her obstacle race journey and other fun things related to obstacle racing.