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Life & Style

Ethical Fashion, Life & Style

How To Recycle Shoes, Boots & Trainers Correctly

Have your shoes seen better days? Don’t bin your old shoes. Instead, here’s how to recycle your worn-out shoes, boots and trainers to help minimise waste.

Buying ethically made shoes is tricky. Recycling your old shoes correctly can be even trickier. An enigma wrapped in a conundrum even.

What makes shoes so tricky to buy and recycle at the end of their life is that, unlike your standard cotton t-shirt that’s made entirely of cotton, shoes are made of a wide mix of different materials. The soles may be rubber or plastic. The footbed may be made of some type of latex. Uppers on your shoe, depending on your preference, may be leather, canvas, wool, or PU plastic. Then there are the metal or plastic eyelets or zips. And then there’s the stitching and laces. In short, there’s a lot going on in one pair of shoes.

It’s a recycler’s nightmare, as in order to recycle shoes properly, each component has to be separated. This is no easy job. What’s more, the amount of work involved to separate individual components can make it not particularly cost-effective to recycle old shoes.

When you consider that globally we buy 24.2 billion pairs of shoes a year, and around 90% of discarded shoes end up in landfill each year, we’re talking about a huge environmental problem. It’s no wonder that so many of our old shoes do end up landfill.  However, once in landfill our shoes can leach toxic chemicals into the ground and our groundwater.

How To Recycle Your Old Shoes, Boots & Trainers

Flatlay of shoes, with blue text box that reads how to recycle your old shoes and boots and trainers correctly.

So how do we stop our old shoes from leaving such a gigantic environmental footprint on the planet? Here are a few steps you can take to first prolong the life of your shoes, and then recycle them for the best environmental outcome.

Mend Your Old Shoes First

Before passing on your shoes for recycling, first, it would be worthwhile investigating whether your shoes could be mended. There are many specialist shoe repairers out there – from specialist Birkenstock repair companies to Dr Marten repairers. And then there are the high street cobblers that can work wonders on your old boots or shoes.

I had one pair of boots repaired three times, before the cobbler and I decided that the boots were eventually beyond salvageable. This extended their life by years. It’s amazing what miracles can be worked – even if you think your shoes are past the point of no return.

Sell or Donate Good Quality Shoes

If shoes you no longer want are still in good condition, then it is better to sell or donate good-quality shoes rather than recycling them. There are a host of sites where you can sell your preloved shoes and clothes online. Alternatively, charity shops will accept shoes in good resellable condition. Give them a little clean before passing them on, and the shoes you no longer want could be someone else’s treasure.

Recycle Your Shoes At Schuh

For shoes that are beyond the point of reselling or repair, then there are ways to recycle your shoes to help ensure they stay out of landfill.

Schuh’s Sell Your Soles scheme is one way to recycle your shoes. Simply take any old and worn shoes to your nearest Schuh store. For each pair you hand in for recycling, Schuh will give you a voucher for £5 off a new pair of full-priced shoes costing £25 or more.  

What’s especially great is that Schuh will accept any type of shoes and any make or brand for recycling. This is regardless of whether they were purchased in Schuh or not.

Schuh has partnered with Manchester-based Recyclatex to deliver its shoe recycling scheme. This trading organisation – formed by several textile reuse and recycling companies who are experts in collection, logistics and identifying value in used clothing and shoes – then pass on to shoe recyclers in the Global South. Here, Recyclatex says as much as 98% of all shoes can be recycled.

What’s more, for every tonne of old shoes collected for recycling, a donation is made by Recyclatex to the World Land Trust.  This charity works with local partners around the world to save and protect critically threatened habitats for wildlife.

Recycle Shoes At Clarks

High street shoe retailer Clarks runs a shoe recycling scheme called ShoeShare. Not all stores take part in ShoeShare, so Clarks encourages customers to call ahead or check in-store before bringing in your old shoes for donation.

Again, similar to Schuh, Clark’s scheme is run by Recyclatex. And similar to Schuh, Clark’s will accept any type of shoes, and any make or brand for recycling.

For every tonne of shoes received, a donation is made to Unicef. This money goes towards Unicef’s education programmes around the world.

Recycle Trainers At Nike

For recycling trainers, I think a better option is the Nike recycling scheme. Whilst Nike doesn’t have a great sustainability record, its in-house recycling system is a great model for other retailers.

Here, rather than sending shoes to the Global South, Nike turns old trainers into Nike Grind. Nike Grind incorporates scraps from manufacturing waste, unused materials, and shoes for recycling. These materials are ground up, and then the resultant material is then processed into new materials.

Nike says that it has been incorporating Nike Grind into products, retail spaces, workplace environments, athletic facilities, skateboards, space shuttles, and more. This helps to keep old trainers out of landfills, and in active use in some way or another for longer.

Do note that Nike accepts any brand of athletic sneakers or trainers for recycling, apart from any shoes with metal, such as cycling shoes with cleats or golf shoes with spikes. Nike only accepts trainers, and won’t accept any other type of shoe.

You can take your old trainers for recycling to participating Nike stores. It’s best to contact your local Nike store in advance, to make sure they can take your old trainers.

Shoe Banks

If you don’t live near any of these High St stores, then the only other option that I’ve found is the shoe banks that you often find in Council recycling centres and some supermarket car parks. What happens to the shoes then depends on who collects them. Some may end up in charity shops, but I suspect most end up exported abroad to the South for sorting and recycling.

Sharing The Load

Not all of these schemes are in any way perfect. The Global South is overrun with our old clothes and shoes, to the detriment of people’s health, the environment, and to traditional economies. And not every pair of shoes will get recycled. Hopefully, in the future, we will see more inhouse recycling schemes, like Nike’s, that will help to alleviate that unfair burden.

In the meantime, we can help. We can buy fewer shoes, and we can take good care of them so that our footwear leaves less of a footprint on both people and the planet. You can also encourage your favourite shoe retailers to look into shoe recycling schemes to help make shoe recycling easier for everyone.

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

The Best Organic Body Lotion For Naturally Hydrated Skin

Don’t stress over dry skin. Here are our favourite eco-friendly and organic body lotion brands, for naturally hydrated skin.

To support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. We may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items purchased through these links. Some brands have also paid to be featured here. This is denoted by **. Moral Fibres only works with brands that are doing good things.

Our skin is quite literally a big deal. Skin is the human body’s largest organ after all. And our skin has many roles – chiefly forming a protective barrier between the external environment and our internal organs.

However, it’s easy to put skincare low down on our list of self-care priorities. Whether that’s forgetting to apply sunscreen, not drinking enough water, or not keeping your skin hydrated, many of us are guilty – me included – of not giving our skin the attention it deserves.

Although it’s a 1-minute job to slather on some body lotion, with many beauty brands potentially using toxic ingredients it’s hard to know which brands to trust.

The Best Organic Body Lotion Brands for Naturally Hydrated Skin

Jar of moisturiser with blue text box that says the best organic body lotion brands for naturally hydrated skin

Thankfully, there is a swathe of brands out there making natural body lotions packed full of organic ingredients. Some are even curbing plastic usage, by offering refillable bottles or jars. Meanwhile, other brands are cutting out the packaging altogether with clever solid organic lotion bars.

To help you out, here are the Moral Fibres’ favourite organic body lotion brands to help give your dry skin a boost sustainably:

MOAM Organics Santorini Body Lotion

MOAM Organics** are a new British brand worth putting on your radar. Using aromatherapy-led essential oils, MOAM Organics create deliciously smelling organic and zero-waste skin and laundry care products. The stylish refillable aluminium bottles also look great in your bathroom.

Their richly moisturising Santorini body lotion features a luscious blend of organic geranium, bergamot and frankincense oils. This blend has been specially selected to refresh, revitalise and boost your mood. Meanwhile, the organic shea and cocoa butter give your skin that much-needed moisture boost.

MOAM Organics has a raft of sustainability credentials. All of their products are vegan and cruelty-free. What’s more, their organic body lotion is free from Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS), parabens, phthalates and phosphates. This makes its rich lotion good for you and good for the environment.

Refills are also available in a pouch format. Rather than binning the pouches when you are done, you can send the empty pouches back to MOAM Organics in the Freepost envelope provided with your order. These will then be 100% recycled by MOAM Organics recycling partners, for zero-waste moisturisation!

Buy the 250 ml body lotion starter set** from MOAM Organics, which includes the refillable bottle for £20 (12.5p per ml). Alternatively, you can buy the organic body wash and lotion starter set** for £38, which includes two refillable MOAM Organics metal bottles.

Evolve Pomegranate & Goji Lotion

Evolve’s deliciously smelling Pomegranate and Goji Aromatic Lotion* helps to nourish and rehydrate your skin using organic, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients.

This organic body lotion includes shea butter to soften your skin whilst helping to improve elasticity, vegan hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture, and sunflower oil, to nourish. Its refreshing fruity fragrance uplifts, whilst goji berries have brilliant antioxidant properties, that fight off the effect of free radicals.

Whilst it comes in a plastic bottle, Evolve has Plastic Neutral certification. This allows brands like Evolve to calculate and offset their plastic footprint by funding plastic removal projects that remove as much plastic as they dispose of annually.

Buy Evolve’s Organic Body Lotion direct from Evolve* for £18 for 250 ml (7p per ml)

UpCircle Body Cream

UpCircle Organic Body Cream

UpCircle’s organic body lotion cares for your skin with a luscious blend of nourishing organic shea butter, linseed and olive oil. It also contains the anti-inflammatory extract of leftover date seeds. This is a by-product of date farming and helps to reduce waste from the industry.

All in all, it means that this organic body lotion packs a mean punch when it comes to sorting out your skin. It soothes dry or irritated skin with its calming blend of natural ingredients and also helps to reduce inflammation and redness. This leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth and supple, all whilst tackling waste!

What’s also to love is that this body lotion is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the UK.

Packaging-wise, there’s even more to love. The lotion is fully plastic-free, coming in a glass jar with an aluminium lid. I’ve noticed that some refill shops also offer refills of UpCircle products. If your local refill shop doesn’t offer UpCircle refills, you can use the clever return and refill scheme on the UpCircle website. Here, refills are 20% cheaper to help encourage you to return and reuse your UpCircle jars.

Buy UpCircle’s Body Lotion direct from Upcircle* for £19.99 for 120 ml (17p per ml).

Zero Waste Path Solid Organic Body Lotion

Bar of Zero Waste Path's citrus solid lotion.

Zero Waste Path, the shampoo bar people, have managed to eschew packaging altogether with this clever solid body lotion bar*. Simply glide onto damp skin after showering or bathing, and this rich lotion bar will deeply moisturise your skin.

The solid lotion bar is packed full of natural, pure and simple ingredients, including organic cocoa butter, and organic shea butter for a moisturising treat for your skin. Each bar is scented with bergamot, grapefruit and thyme essential oils, giving it a refreshing and uplifting citrus scent.

Handmade using 100% vegan-friendly and cruelty-free natural ingredients, this bar is also palm-oil-free.

Buy Zero Waste Path’s solid body lotion bar from Friendly Turtle* for £7.50 for 90 g (8p per g/ml).

Beauty Kitchen Hand & Body Cream

Finally, Beauty Kitchen’s organic vegan hand and body cream* is a great multi-tasker for your bathroom.

Containing sustainably sourced ingredients, such as organic aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, and shea butter, this delivers a hefty dose of moisturisation for both your body and hands. It absorbs quickly, with a non-greasy finish.

Available in a range of fragrances – from scent-free for sensitive skins and noses – to herbal, citrus or minty scent profiles depending on your preference.

The organic body lotion comes in an aluminium pump. When you are done this can be returned to Beauty Kitchen via Freepost to be refilled and reused. Alternatively, you can drop the bottles off at your local Holland & Barrett store, which returns the bottles in bulk to be refilled.

Buy direct from Beauty Kitchen* for £8 for 150 ml (5p per ml).

Have I missed your favourite brand? Do let me know in the comments below!