Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
With shoulder season upon us, skiers are racking the skis, stashing the boots, and busting out the biking gear. Time to take stock of what gear you can make last for one more season and what needs to be ditched and replaced. And while the technology to recycle the plastic shells of ski boots and skis is not quite there yet, not everything you decide to part with has to go in the landfill.
Soles4Souls is a U.S. nonprofit that wants your used shoes and clothing. Though headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., this organization’s mission and impact are far-reaching. The nonprofit partners with more than 1,200 children’s programs, schools, veteran’s organizations, and women’s shelters across the country and worldwide to get shoes and used clothing into the hands of people who need them. Since 2006, the nonprofit has distributed 51 million pairs of new and gently-worn shoes in 129 countries around the world to provide relief.
Read more: Running shoe gets second life as ski boot
In doing so, Soles4Souls has not only helped keep 51 million pounds of trash out of landfills, but also supported micro-entrepreneurs who build businesses around reselling the goods to support their families.
“When we can help provide a pair of shoes, we’re helping bridge the economic gap. For these families, a new pair of shoes provides dignity and hope,” said a spokesperson for Soles4Souls in a press release.
According to the EPA, only 15 percent of clothing and footwear in the U.S. is recycled, leaving the rest to be dumped in landfills. And skiers, being the gearheads we are, have more clothing and footwear than the average person. Ergo, we need to do everything we can to get rid of our used gear responsibly.
Here’s how to do that with Soles4Souls: Gather your used footwear and clothing, box it up, then send it to Soles4Souls using a prepaid UPS shipping label from Zappos. You’ll need to create an account and log in to Zappos to print the label, but no other action or purchase is required.
Or just visit Soles4Souls’ website to find a drop-off location at a local retailer near you.
They don’t accept technical footwear like ski boots or biking and climbing shoes, but they’ll take everything else as long as it’s in good condition.
And it bears remembering that the trail shoes you’ve logged 100 miles on may have reached the end of their life for you, a mountain athlete, but they may still have plenty of life in them for someone who doesn’t need to run an ultra in them.