That old pair of running shoes hiding in the back of your closet has a future.
As people strive to “go green” with ecofriendly practices like recycling, the sport of running is trying to keep up.
For instance, Fleet Feet Albany, the shoe franchise on Wolf Road, has begun to examine ways in which it can lessen the environmental impact of the products it sells, an effort that has been spearheaded by Nike.
Runner’s World has devoted its entire October issue to the greening trend, and there are several ways that runners can get involved, not the least of which is to bring their old shoes to recycling collection spots instead of throwing them in the trash.
Fleet Feet Albany talks about reducing the waste it creates every time they have a staff meeting, and among the ideas they’ve focused on are supporting companies that are trying hard to improve technology while reducing waste; recycling; sending shoes to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program; donating other used apparel items instead of throwing them out; and eliminating plastic bags for items sold at the store.
“We’re doing a couple of things, we’ve asked people if they want plastic bags instead of just giving them, and most leave the store with just boxes without using bags,” Fleet Feet Albany owner Charles Woodruff said. “Also, through our personal rewards program, when you qualify, we give you biodegradable bag that you can use here or anywhere, the grocery store.”
The shoes that are sent to Nike are ground into a material that has been used to build tracks, indoor basketball courts and playgrounds.
Nike started shredding shoes with the idea of putting the material to good use in 1990, and tested its first indoor basketball floor in 1993.
Shoe companies are also examining ways to use more environmentally friendly substances and fabric in the first place, before the shoes even hit the shelves.
“They’re looking hard at materials in apparel like wool, bamboo, cocona and more reasonable fabrics,” Woodruff said.
The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club has gotten into the act, too.
The HMRRC started collecting shoes and shirts for recycle a few weeks ago and got an overflow response from its members.
They’re sending the shoes to Nike ReUse A Shoe, One World Running and some local charities, and the shirts will go to the St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, S.D.