recycling guides style zero waste

where to recycle tennis shoes

Sometimes I feel like we’re always buying new tennis shoes. D and I are pretty active, and we wear our shoes straight into the ground. You should see the soles of his tennis shoes after a year!

In the past, I always felt guilty about getting rid of our old tennis shoes. I mean, clearly most Americans wouldn’t even think of wearing a stranger’s stinky old used tennis shoes. So I usually ended up throwing them away in the trash, while keeping one or two old pairs for dirty yard work and volunteering outdoors.

BUT – did you know Nike will recycle your old tennis shoes?* And they don’t even have to be Nikes – they’ll take any used athletic shoes. (Side note: no flip-flops, dress shoes, or boots. If you consider those athletic shoes, well… I like your style! But Nike’s recycling equipment is designed specifically for the material and dimensions of athletic shoes.) Below is a quick & simple guide to where to recycle sneakers.

You can drop off your shoes at a nearby Nike or Converse store, or mail them to Nike’s recycling facility.


Nike transfers your donated shoes to a processing facility in Memphis or Meerhout, Belgium, where they’re converted into Nike Grind material.


Three types of materials are turned into Nike Grind: the rubber from the outsole, the foam from the midsole, and the fabric from the upper. Nike Grind is used to make high-performance athletic surfaces (e.g. tennis and basketball courts, running tracks, athletic fields, playgrounds). Nike also uses Nike Grind to make new footwear and apparel.


According to Nike, surfaces made with Nike Grind cover about 632,000,000 – nearly enough to cover Manhattan (!!!).

28 million pairs have been recycled so far. Do you have any old shoes to recycle?

*This post is not sponsored by Nike, just a personal recommendation to take advantage of their free shoe recycling program.

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