7 ways to reuse and recycle shoes

Filed in Blog, Reuse by on April 12, 2014 3 Comments
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Zero hero Louay contacted me last week and said:

“I have some shoes that are beyond giving to charity shops and so wondered if you knew of any way to recycle them?”

Now I’m not sure what happens to shoes that are beyond wearing if you put them in a textiles bank – does anyone know? I’m wondering if the materials could be salvaged for something else.

You may even be able to take them to a charity shop for the ‘rag man’ – you’d need to double check with your local shop.

If you’re in the US, you lucky folk can take athletic shoes, sneakers and trainers into your local Nike store. They’ll grind them down to create a new material called Nike Grind, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields and tracks.

Meanwhile the team at ClothesBank.co.uk, who have collection areas listed on their website, will sort gladly take any shoes, in any condition off your hands. They say “Don’t worry if you think your shoes are too worn, ClothesBank.co.uk will strip the shoes that can’t be sent and will recycle the materials. They may even be turned into wiper cloths!”

But in case those ideas don’t out I’ve found some creative ideas from around the Internet – everything from the practical to real conversation-stoppers!

The footstool

This footstool comes with the caption “This was my housewarming present from my new neighbors. They bragged about how they found it at a tag sale in south Georgia. Oh, joy. I’m now the proud owner of the ugliest/creepiest stool on planet Earth. All I’m thinking is: “how long do I have to display this before I can dismantle it and burn it in a bonfire?”

upcycled stool made from old shoes

Toilet roll holder

Over on Poetic Home I saw these boots which is captioned “These look to be vintage boots fashioned with old wooden rolling pins stuck inside — and voila — a fabulously unique toilet paper holder!”

repurposed boots into toilet roll holder


This might be a great way to give a longer lease of life to shoes that are already heading to landfill.

upcycled boots made into planter

recycle crocs into planters


I don’t know about you, but having books fall over on my shelves is one of my bugbears.

It needn’t be any longer with these fabulous bookends, inspired by Giddy Spinster – she’s a designer working with the unusual medium of reclaimed stiletto heels!

upcycle stilettos into bookends

Bird box

Well not so much a box as a boot! Look at this fantastic bird nesting house – I’m not sure how easy it would be to clean out, but it would certainly cause a stir in the garden.

upcycled boots into bird nesting box

The object d’art

This picture speaks for itself. It’s a ‘just because’ moment – who could resist?

recycled childrens shoe


What a funky lamp. Let there be upcycled light my friends!

repurposed boots into lamp

Well these ideas should keep Louay busy for a while – which is your favourite?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (3)

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  1. Louay says:

    Thank you for the useful article, and I am delighted to have been your inspiration! 🙂

  2. claudia says:

    The high heel bookends are my favorite. The footstool is very creepy!!! Thanks for the tip about recycling running shoes. I’m in the US but didn’t know about the program.

  3. a sense of humor is helpful in the up-cycling medium… leather does eventually decompose in the great depths of a compost barrel or pit, so when the boot degrades beyond planter use, well bury the thing and feed a tree.
    the biped footstool is what crafters call “unique” for sure; the cowboy next door would certainly appreciate that..how about a stiletto matching lady stool to go with it?

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