We don’t often think of our shoes as plastic yet many components are made from plastics or similar synthetic materials. These plastic parts in our shoes make them impossible to recycle. Certainly, some materials within shoes are recyclable but given the complex mix of materials—which are glued and stitched together—parts cannot be separated to be salvaged.
Last year, Americans bought seven pairs of shoes on average; worldwide, more than 24 billion pairs of shoes were made with over two billion pairs sold in the U.S. alone. With this heavy production and consumption and difficulty with recycling, most shoes end up in the trash.
Take a look at this National Geographic article about the plastic shoe problem as well a few ways to support change, which we have shared here.
Things you can do to be part of the solution:
- Buy fewer shoes.
- Look for shoes made of natural materials, ideally with minimal components.
- Ask your favorite brands to develop single-material shoes that can be recycled.
Take a few steps in the right direction and keep a little more plastic out of the landfill.