Used shoes don’t necessarily have to live in the back of your closet once you are done with them. The ReUse A Shoe project was created by LIU Post’s Recycling Program as a new initiative to get Post students to recycle non-typical items.
The Recycling Program is looking for new ways to improve recycling on campus, including finding ways to recycle more than just typical items of paper, card- board, and plastics. It was started in the beginning of the semester and allows LIU Post members to donate used shoes that can be recycled and reused.
TerraCycle turns the shoes into a wide variety of products, including fences, benches, and garden pavers. The materials in the shoes are grinded down and incorporated into those types of products according to TerraCycle. The materials are also used in playgrounds, running tracks, tennis courts, and the padding that goes underneath basketball courts.
After purchasing a package of Capri Suns three years ago, William Achnitz, a Graduate Assistant for Sustainability and co-coordinator of the LIU Post Recycling Program, discovered the company TerraCycle. “On the box was a description of how to recycle the Capri Sun pouches. I immediately signed up,” said Achnitz.
Since then, LIU Post has participated in other recycling programs that TerraCycle hosted. The program has collected non-traditional items such as chip bags, cookie wrappers, and candy wrappers. When Achnitz saw that TerraCycle began recycling shoes, he jumped on the opportunity. According to him, “Most recycle programs only have a certain number of openings.” Therefore space is limited for universities to be a part of the programs.
Achnitz said that he tries to educate the campus community about all of the recycling and sustainability initia- tives that are going on. “I’ve helped get the ReUse A Shoe program off the ground by getting collection bins placed in Hillwood Commons and the Pratt Recreation Center and I take care of shipping out the shoes once we’ve collected enough,” said Achnitz. He goes to their website, prints out a free UPS shipping label, and then ships them out to the facility where they will get recycled.
Sophomore Social Work major, Emma Weinstein, is a huge fan of this new recycling idea. “I have so many shoes, when they get worn out or when I get sick of them I would throw them out,” said Weinstein. “I think it’s great that I can help out by donating my old shoes,” she added. Weinstein said she had no idea that shoes could be recycled and used for so many other things.
Sophomore Journalism major, Michelle Morey, thinks that it’s great that the school is finding new ways to be green. “I am all for it. Why wouldn’t you want to help out for this cause, it’s so simple to give back,” said Morey.
Rechelle Abalos, the Environmental Educator on campus, helped spread the word by creating and hanging up the ReUse A Shoe flyers around campus.
An Environmental Educator is a student employee who works for the Recycling Program who is tasked with raising awareness about recycling and sustainability on campus. They create programs, make flyers, and put together other projects to promote the recycling program.
In the United States, an estimated 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year according to Achnitz. “The goal is to always try to reduce those statistics as much as possible and now people at LIU Post have a convenient way to do so,” said Achnitz. “However, it would be cool to collect at least 300 pairs of shoes to kind of coincide with that statistic,” he added. Since the program started in January, 25 pairs of shoes have been collected.
“As we raise more awareness about this program, I am sure the amount we collect will continue to grow,” said Achnitz.
ReUse A Shoe, according to Achnitz, has gained attention around campus. “It is getting featured in the Pioneer after all. Plus, our Environmental Assis- tants have been talking it up to other people and through that word of mouth we have gener- ated a decent amount of shoes for just starting this brand new initiative.”
Athletic sneakers, cleats, flats, high heels, dress shoes, boots & fashion or casual sneakers are accepted. The program does not accept ski boots, roller skates, roller blades, ice skates, completely broken or ruined footwear, single shoes, rubber flip flops or slippers.
This is an on-going program so shoes can be dropped on in Hillwood Commons and Pratt Recreation Center until the end of the semester as well as over the summer sessions.