As more and more companies get green-savvy, the sporting goods that were once destined to haunt the shelves of Goodwill in our yearly closet-cleaning mission are getting a “do-over” of their own. Here is a list of the top five sporting good recycling programs E discovered to help get those old, beat-up fleeces and sneakers out of the closet and back outside.
Necky’s Recycled Kayaks
Necky, maker of high-performance kayaks, raises the bar with their molded kayak made from 100% after-market consumer recycled plastic. But while their Looksha 14 model is made from leftover plastic, it’s one of the most durable kayaks on the market. Moreover, Necky donates 1% of proceeds from each recycled boat’s sale to the WaterKeeper Alliance.
Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling Program
Patagonia has been the leader in environmentally conscious sporting goods for decades. In 1993, the company began producing fleece pull-overs from recycled plastic bottles and changed the face of responsible clothing. At Patagonia, “Quality means more than how a garment looks or functions: It also includes the way it affects the environment and quality of life,” according to their website. “This means working to source materials and develop processes that minimize damage to the environment.” In 2005, Patagonia launched the Common Threads Garment Recycling Program to recycle and remanufacture old and used Capilene, Polartec Fleece, Patagonia Fleece and Patagonia Cotton Ts. The used clothes are made into modern styles so you don’t have to wait for those retired fashions to return.
Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe and Nike Grind
The iconic swoosh-branded Nike captured the world consumer in the 1980s. While redefining the consumer-based paradigm, owner Phil Knight’s creative business acumen reshaped the way companies looked at their “wasted” manufactured goods and retired sneakers. Nike’s philosophy is “Your worn-out sports shoes can already live on in something new: a track, a basketball court, a playground. Tomorrow, our goal is that sports shoes, apparel and equipment will also be recycled into new Nike products. This way the materials we use will go through many cycles of design, manufacture and use. Just like bottles, cans and paper do now.”
Nike Grind is the material that comes from the old shoes—foam or rubber pieces that become part of new surfaced tracks (or artificial turf, or playgrounds) that are easier on the environment. Reuse-A-Shoe accepts individual and group donations. So next time you run a local 5K or tackle a marathon, place a few collection barrels around the race site.
Wilson’s Rebound Basketball
Chicago-based sporting goods giant, Wilson, created the Rebound basketball with 40% recycled rubber. The company wants people to “Think Globally, Hoop Locally.” Mike Kuehne, general manager of basketball for Wilson Sporting Goods says, “We know that today’s young athletes are very aware of their impact on the en-vironment. And we’re always looking for ways to improve our own performance. The Rebound will afford young players the chance to work on their game in an environmentally friendly way.”
According to the company, every 70 Rebound basketballs are equivalent to one tire that’s not being tossed into a landfill. And the basketball’s box is 80% pre- and post-consumer-recycled, too.
Cannondale’s Re-Spun Collection
Besides dramatically reducing their factory carbon footprint, bicycle maker Cannondale has also created a clothing line made from recycled PET polyester, recycled plastic bottles, and castoff fabric scraps called Re-Spun. The jerseys still have the wicking technology you expect in high-performance cycling gear and are lightweight and cool.
CONTACTS: Cannondale Re-Spun Collection; Necky Kayaks; Reuse-A-Shoe and Nike Grind; Patagonia’s Common Threads; Wilson
Other Recyclable Resources
Fair Trade Sports is a fully sustainable sporting goods manufacturer that makes 100% recycled and vegan footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and more stitched by workers being paid a fair wage. All after-tax profits fund children’s charities.
Resurf.org is the first platform to recycle surfboards. It was initially started to get surfboards out of landfills and into asphalt and floor tiling, but the organization also refurbishes old boards for use by kids in need.
If you want to give your old, beaten shoes to a great charity that provides footwear for the less fortunate in the U.S. and around the world, Soles 4 Souls is the organization to contact.
This website connects you with local drop-off sites and other programs that accept your rundown runners.