In the name of
science this blog, I attempted a thing: I recycled my shoes.
More specifically, I tried recycling my shoes at DSW.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons decluttering. One of the most important lessons is that sometimes things are just garbage. But sometimes things aren’t. That’s how I felt about these shoes.
Our community has occasional shoe recycling programs, but they aren’t year-round initiatives. And anyone who has ever been caught up in a massive decluttering undertaking knows that you can only live with donation piles for so long before they start to feel like clutter themselves.
So I looked up programs for recycling shoes in my area, and I found…nothing.
After a few more clicks, I stumbled upon the Soles4Souls program at DSW. Quite frankly, it seemed too good to be true, too easy to be effective. But, spirited adventurer that I am, I rounded up two pairs of shoes and took them to a DSW to see what exactly their shoe recycling program is all about.
How to Recycle Your Shoes with DSW
Spoiler alert: This isn’t a Wikihow page.
It doesn’t need to be. The process was actually unbelievably simple.
The online description isn’t terribly clear in terms of what kinds of shoes they accept, so I stuck with something that I know is typically recycled: gym shoes. The added benefit of being the shoe snob that I was is that I really have my pick of shoe types to donate. For good measure, I grabbed a pair of my husband’s shoes as well.
I put them in a bag and left them in my car until we were headed out somewhere near a DSW.
That’s another big decluttering lesson I’m learning: guard your time and guard your money. Decluttering doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. (I see you and your spendypants catalogs, Container Store.)
We were out visiting friends last weekend, and we knew we were going to run a few errands. Happily, a DSW was right across the street from where we were headed.
I can’t tell you the last time I was in a DSW. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I did know that their online blurb about the shoe recycling program does say that a friendly associate would help. So I tugged open the door and set out to find said associate.
Instead, I noticed the donation bin. It was right next to the door.
I could have very easily tossed in the two pairs of shoes, done an about-face, and went on my merry way.
in the spirit of adventure for fear of having nothing else to write about on my blog, I decided to go the full mile.
There were only two people in the checkout line, so I hopped in line behind them. The dot on the floor assured me that I was in the right place.
A handful of moments later, the sale associate flagged me over, and I told her that I wasn’t purchasing anything today.
“I’d just like to donate these for that program thing!” I hefted her the bag and pointed, hoping she’d take it from there.
She instantly knew what I was doing, asked for my email, and said that she would add 50 points to my VIP account. I didn’t understand the full significance of this until later, but the entire process from the time I stepped into the store until I left took under five minutes.
On the way out, I offered to drop them in the bin myself, but she declined (maybe they examine the shoes?!). So I thanked her again and left. Easy peasy.
Less than an hour later, I received an email verifying that the points were added to my account, and I was halfway toward earning a $5 shopping voucher.
Shoe Recycling FAQ
I know a lot about shoes. One does not buy over 200 pairs and learn nothing. I’ve bought clearance shoes, I’ve bought $700 Jimmy Choos. I’ve bought just about everything in between.
But I’m less interested in shopping for shoes as I am interested in streamlining the pairs that I own. I’m also interested in being as environmentally friendly as possible while doing this.
RELATED POST: Toss or Use? The Green Decluttering Debate
While I have participated in shoe recycling programs before, I didn’t really understand how they work. So I did a bit of research and came up with some answers to my own questions. Hopefully, it will help you determine if it’s time to recycle your kicks and how you can connect with a shoe recycling program in your area.
Is it time to recycle my shoes?
Shoes are one of the easiest things to resell online. In fact, at least half of the money that I’ve made through Tradesy and Poshmark sales comes from shoes. But there is definitely a time and a place when it makes more sense to recycle shoes than it does to try to resell them.
My husband and I were both ready to part with Pumas. There were creases from wear on his and yellowing on the piping on mine (it was an ill-fated attempted to clean off the mud from a wedding shoot that was just too fun). In short, we weren’t going to get much, if anything, by listing them online. So we decided to just part with them.
Where can I recycle shoes?
We’ve tried to give our shoes new lives several different ways. A local running company used to collect retired gym shoes. A nearby park district also collected old tennis shoes and then turned them into material for their running track. We loved both of those programs, and we will continue to support them when they are running.
However, we are itching to part with some of our clutter immediately, so we wanted to find a program for shoe recycling that isn’t seasonal. Enter DSW and their Soles4Souls partnership. DSW shoe stores abound throughout the United States, and we just so happen to live fairly close to one. As a result, it became a decluttering experiment match made in heaven. I had nothing to lose (neither time nor money) and everything to gain (space, space, space!).
What is the DSW shoe recycling program?
The shoe recycling program at DSW runs in tandem with their VIP program. The VIP program is free to join and takes mere seconds to do so. You can also opt out of emails, which I did.
The program promises to work to keep shoes out of landfills and to help families who need it. Sign me up.
Once you drop your shoes in the donation bin, DSW sends the shoes to the Soles4Souls program. If you’d like, you can also snag a tax receipt for your donation. You’re in good company with your donation. Over 850,000 have been donated since May 2018. That’s almost a million pairs of shoes in less than a year!
How does the Soles4Souls shoe recycling program work?
The organization can probably speak on behalf of themselves better than I can speak for them. So instead of covering all the nitty-gritty, I want to hit the highlights.
They take any kind of shoe! For me, this is huge. Our community is great about collecting running shoes, but the fact that I can also get rid of sandals and booties is wonderful.
They take half pairs! Our clutter never got to this level, but if you’ve somehow ended up with a singleton shoe instead of a pair, they will still accept them.
They sort them by season! Their warehouses will get your winter gear to colder climates.
They support micro-enterprise. This isn’t just a short-term solution (not that those kinds of giving initiatives don’t matter as well!). According to the Soles4Souls’ site, micro-enterprises in Africa, Haiti, and other places around the world help provide “impoverished people in developing nations with the resources to start and maintain their own businesses.” It’s like a closet-clean out version of Kiva!
Does DSW give you money to recycle shoes?
Yeah, they do. Sort of. In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know that you aren’t actually going to walk out of the store with a wad of cash. Instead, they add point to your account that you can redeem for certificates for future purchases.
It actually is close enough if you think decluttering is a process (it is!) and live close to a DSW (I do!). If you don’t pass a DSW while you’re running your everyday errands, then this isn’t going to be a great moneymaker for you. In fact, you’ll probably lose out. However, it’s nice to know that I can drop off a pair or two of shoes whenever I’m out and about. With just two visits, I’ll score a $5 off certificate.
But what I’m most interested in is less clutter. If it’s too much temptation to spend money you don’t have or you fear that you will just bring more clutter into your home, you don’t actually have to have the points put on your account. In fact, you can walk in, find the drop box, deposit any number of shoes, and depart. It’s as simple as that.
You also have the option of donating your rewards instead of redeeming them for yourself.
Final Thoughts on Recycling Shoes at DSW
I will definitely be taking advantage of the shoe recycling program at DSW again. While I’ve made considerable progress whittling down the number of shoes that I own, I know that there is more work to be done. I might continue to resell some, but now that I know how simple this recycling process is, I’m definitely coming back for more.
So Tell Me…Have you tried out a shoe recycling program before? What other green strategies are you using to declutter?