Recycling program collects more than 8 tons of shoes

 
By Merleanne Rampage
Solid Waste Agency of Lake County submission
Updated 6/11/2011 9:44 AM
hello
  • Teacher Lara Buti and students from North Shore Academy participate in shoe recycling for the first time.

    Teacher Lara Buti and students from North Shore Academy participate in shoe recycling for the first time. Courtesy Solid Waste Agency of Lake County

  • One of the many boxes of shoes donated to Share Your Soles.

    One of the many boxes of shoes donated to Share Your Soles. Courtesy Solid Waste Agency of Lake CountY

A program that recycles and reuses shoes, coordinated by the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, set a record this year.

More than 41,000 shoes, or 8 tons, were collected and kept out of landfills. Schools, Scout troops, village and city departments, park districts, libraries, corporate offices and other community groups from around Lake County united in the effort.

SWALCO member communities, including the village of Wauconda, with the United Partnership of Wauconda, the village of Vernon Hills and the City of Zion, have all hosted collection sites for their residents and have participated for several years, bringing in large numbers of shoes.

Vernon Hills and its public works department acted as host site for the final collection and drop-off for groups. SWALCO and Vernon Hills Public Works staff worked together to gather, process, package and arrange to ship the shoes.

Every year across the globe, millions of pairs of shoes end up in landfills or disposed of in some other way. This was the seventh year the agency has sponsored and coordinated the program in Lake County.

SWALCO partners with Nike to recycle worn out athletic shoes and turn them into something new. Old athletic shoes (any brand) are collected, processed and recycled into a material called "Nike Grind," which is used to create sports surfaces such as basketball and tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds.

Products such as floor tiling, padding and yoga mats made with "Grind" are also becoming available now at places like Home Depot.

SWALCO staff has expanded the program and again partnered with Share Your Soles, a local Illinois shoe charity organization to reuse shoes.

This local group has been working for more than 10 years to get shoes to people who need them, including areas in the U.S. and many adults and children affected by tragedies around the world.

Participating groups also have the option to collect gently worn shoes of all kinds for donation. SWALCO delivered at least 4,000 pairs to SYS.

"Many of the shoes will be sent to Joplin, Mo., to help people in the aftermath of the tornado," said SYS Director Mona Purdy.

Share Your Soles also collects and distributes walkers and canes to those who need them.

To make a financial donation to SYS to help them with their continuing efforts and to aid with processing and shipping costs, call (708) 448-4469.