Giving Back: What to do with Old Running Gear
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
For those who don't know, tomorrow is #GivingTuesday! This is an international movement that encourages charitable giving every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This day has become so impressive; in 2018 online giving in the US reached $400,000,000. Since I typically associate this day with giving monetary donations, my guess is that I'm not the only one! However, the official web site for Giving Tuesday defines it as a "day that encourages people to do good" and gives ideas besides giving $$, such as volunteering your time, advocating for causes, and just spreading kindness.
Giving Athletic Goods
As athletes and fitness lovers, there are many ways to give back this week- and all the time! This Tuesday, I'm choosing to donate my used running shoes and gear that I no longer use or fit into. I have quite the collection going and its about time I finally distribute what I have- and I encourage you to do the same! Not only does it combat excess waste, but it could make a huge difference in someone's life.
Help pass on your love for fitness or your sport by giving others the ability to participate. Some tips to help you out:
Donating Old Running Shoes
There are many organizations that formally work to distribute used running shoes, such as Shoes4Soles, MORE and One World Running, and they will have drop-off locations in various cities or provide an address/shipping labels to ship your box. A quick Google search gave me several places accepting used shoes, including national organizations with drop off locations near me and other local charities, such as local running stores with collection boxes. There is always someone, and if there are no specific shoe options near you, you can even look into local youth programs, high schools, or the Salvation Army. (type your zip code in).
Organizations can do so much with old shoes/clothes! Planet Aid has bins all over, and they use old clothes to support a variety of amazing initiatives all over the world! They accept stuff that others wouldn't, head to the bottom of this post for more ideas for unusable products.
Donate Used Equipment
Many of us with the means to buy new items, or the need to have updated gear for elite performance, have extra used equipment that works fine and could be of great use to others. One option is reaching out to schools in your area or youth programs, such as a local Boys & Girls Club. There are nonprofits that focus on distributing athletic gear to underserved populations. You can also sell to used equipment stores like Play it Again Sports, which accepts a large variety of used sports gear.
You’re making a huge difference for someone, de-cluttering your own space, and avoiding build up of unnecessary trash. Other nonprofits may specifically focus on distributing athletic gear to underserved youth or others in need, so also try searching for these in your area.
Keep in mind:
People tend to think that anything is donate-able. Make sure your items meet the charity's requirements, often listed on an organizations website, explaining which items they are and are not currently accepting and the expected quality. If there is no list, it may also be a good idea to contact someone at the organization who can give you this information.
But what about the shoe that your dog ate half of? (Asking for a friend....) Don't throw them away just yet! There are alternative options for items that someone probably won't reuse.
-Search Textile Recycling or Clothes Recycling options in your area: There are donations centers with this focus or there are thrift shops, like Goodwill, that recycle donations they can't use. This Recycling Locator is an amazing tool for finding a spot!
-Old, unwearable running shoes/sneakers: can be turned into new shoes and athletic surfaces like turfs and playgrounds. I currently know that the stores Asics, Nike, and Adidas do collections, so ask your local store if you can bring them in. I also
-Get Creative: Sporting events love free T-shirts...I know you have some, and I know you have stains on a good number of them. Your old stained/torn athletic clothes can help animals in need! They're not the first place you'd think of, but many accept clothes to turn into toys and beds for crates.
In a sea of options, these are just some of my takeaways! What do you do with old running gear? I'd love to learn about other organizations I can give to in the future.