McGill Athletics and Recreation launches a shoe-recycling program

4215-REUSE-SNEAKERSBy Jill Barker

When it comes to the environment, small initiatives can make a big impact – especially if everyone does their part. That’s exactly what McGill Athletics and Recreation had in mind when it teamed up with a group of McGill students from an environmental management class to implement a shoe recycling initiative. Working on the premise that most athletes have a supply of worn or outdated athletic shoes sitting in their closet, the idea was to stop these shoes from finding their way into a landfill.

The Reuse, Resole, Rerun program collects unwanted athletics shoes from the McGill community and local athletic groups and helps them find a new life somewhere else. In collaboration with Yes, Inc.’s Shoes for Africa (and more recently Haiti) and Nike’s Re-use-a-Shoe program, all donated shoes will either be re-worn by those in need or broken down into workable raw materials for reuse.

“People don’t think to recycle shoes,” said Sydney Smith, a third-year combined B.A. and B.Sc. student. “With this program there is no waste, everything in the shoe can be reused.”

The campaign is ongoing with special “blue boxes” tailored to accept gently used and worn out shoes. The receptacles can be found at the McGill Sports Centre and are easily accessible to all gym users. To encourage even more participation, additional campaigns will be added throughout the year and may include free admission to varsity games in exchange for a pair of shoes and a drive to collect shoes from the children attending our summer sports camps.

“We think it’s cool that a school project has translated into a new initiative,” said April Lecato, a third-year Arts student with a major in Environmental Science. “When it comes to the environment, people talk a good game, but this program actually has a chance to make a difference.”

To help defray shipping costs, donations of a toonie or loonie will be accepted during specific drives and by individuals dropping off shoes at our Sports Complex location. The “donate a shoe and a dollar or two” campaign will kick off this spring with the intention of becoming an on-going and long term initiative.

To see the Reuse, Resole and Rerun program YouTube video go to