Reduce, Reuse, Recycle your shoes?

It could be argued that recycling may be one of the best ways for us to create positive change in the world. The amount of waste being created by humans is increasing all the time and is increasing more rapidly than even ten to twenty years ago. This increase of human caused waste is due to a combination of our population on the rise, more packaging with more industry and large corporations, more wealth which means more consumption, and changing lifestyles that search for pre-made food and/or fast food. The good news is that each person that makes ecologically economic decisions can have a significant impact on this global issue.

In 2011 the average American recycled and composted 1.53 pounds of their individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per day (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm). That’s a good start but will not be enough to create the change that we need. I know that it’s very possible and relatively easy, especially in the Tri-County Hazardous Waste and Recycling service area, to recycle. However, I believe that focusing on the first two steps (reduce, reuse) are the real solutions to managing our waste generation. When we’re buying products do we consider how much packaging is being used for the product? Is the packaging reusable or recyclable? Is there an alternative product that may be less wasteful?

Let’s think about watermelon because I love watermelon this time of year! I have gone to several cookouts recently and watermelon has been present at all of them. I’ve noticed that you have several options when buying watermelon. First you may want to consider where the watermelon came from but that topic is for another post or for our partners at Gorge Grown Food Network. I’ve seen watermelon cut into chunks and placed in a plastic container; I’ve seen watermelon quartered and wrapped in plastic, and I’ve seen watermelon whole. When I buy a whole watermelon I have an opportunity to create very little waste. There’s no packaging on a whole watermelon and my composting bins, complete with 500 worms, will break down the rinds without releasing as much greenhouse gases as if the rinds sat in a dump.

That was a simple example. There are obviously items that we use that seem to be essential for our health and well being such as shoes. Shoes take us places we’ve never been, they allow us to travel far distances without harming our feet, and if I’m being honest, they give us some style. But what happens when we decide we don’t want a pair of shoes anymore? What if we grow out of our shoes? What if we have too many shoes in our house and not enough storage to keep the ones we don’t wear? The solution is found right here at CGEI!

Do you have an old pair of shoes taking up room in your closet? We’ll take them! Are there some used running shoes that you haven’t worn since the 90’s sitting in your garage? We’ll take them! Are your kids growing out of their shoes and creating a pile of shoes too small for them to wear? We’ll take them! Let’s keep those old shoes out of the dump and put them back into use!

We’re teaming up with the ShoeBox Recycling program to recycle gently used shoes. After you bring us your old shoes we’ll send them to the ShoeBox Recycling organization where your shoes will find a new home. Your used shoes may turn into someone’s first pair of shoes, someone’s favorite pair of shoes, or someone’s greatly needed pair of shoes. You can even track where your shoes go and find your sole mate!

Please no big winter boots, UGG boots, rubber boots, big fuzzy slippers, ice & roller skates, slippers, flipflops, moldy shoes or shoes with holes/rips. Shoes must be wearable and in pairs.  We do accept all types of cleats. Get those pairs of shoes going!

In order to get your shoes to us you can drop them off in the box that we have outside of our office or you can arrange to meet with us by sending an email to info(at)gorgeecology(dot)org.

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