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What to do with old shoes

Shoes donated to charity

Whether worn out, or grown out, it can be tricky to know what to do with old shoes. None of us wants to send them to landfill, but we don’t want an ever-growing pile in the shoe cupboard either!

If your shoes are looking a bit worn out and tired, taking them to a local cobbler for a new lease of life is a great option. They can repair holes, replace soles and laces and more!

Kids feet can grow surprisingly quickly and at Start-Rite we are proud that our shoes are never outworn, only outgrown. If you’re uncertain as to whether or not your child’s feet have grown, we have plenty of easy-to-use measure at home tools to measure feet.

So, what to do? Below we’ve answered a few top questions to help you decide the best course of action for your no-longer-needed pairs.

Can you recycle old shoes?

Absolutely! Although you cannot put shoes in your household recycling bin, in some areas of the UK you can recycle shoes from home. Head over to, pop in your postcode to see if, and how, you can recycle old shoes from the comfort of your home.

Alternatively, there are often recycling facilities at your local tip which will happily take them. A top tip is to tie both pairs of shoes together somehow to prevent them getting separated.

Can you donate old shoes?

If your shoes are still in a usable condition, for example, if your child has outgrown them or if they’re just not needed anymore, the best thing to do is donate them. Not only will this get them out of your way, it will reduce landfill and could support those in need.

Give them a thorough clean and check that the soles, fastenings, insoles and uppers are still in good condition.

Clothes and shoe donation bins

A quick and easy way to donate is clothes and shoe donations bins or banks. We’ve all seen these at a local supermarket or library carpark! This is one of the better options if your shoes aren’t in the best condition as they tend to breakdown the shoes so that certain parts can be used to make something useful.

Alternatively, many Start-Rite stockists have ShoeAid containers in store, so just pop your unwanted shoes into these collection bins. You can learn more about the great work this charity does on their website.

Charity shoes

Most people will have a charity shop or two close by who will usually happily take in unwanted shoes and clothes that aren’t damaged or broken. Again, before donating, double check that the shoes are in good condition, give them a quick clean and join the pairs together to prevent them getting separated.

School donation

Although not as common as some of the other donation options, why not check with your child’s school to see if they take old school shoes for those less fortunate? Some schools take good quality, pre-owned, shoes and uniforms and either gift, or sell at a big discount, to those in need.


If the shoes haven’t been worn much, you could hand shoes down to a friend in need. If you need to do this, we’d recommend replacing the insole and checking the fit of them on their new owner to ensure they are suitable. Remember that during heavy wear shoes mould and shape to the wearer’s foot shape and walking style. This means that hand-me-downs aren’t always suitable.

How to repurpose old shoes

If your shoes aren’t in a great condition, or you’d just rather not donate or give away your old shoes, why not look to see how you can re-use, or up-cycle them around the home? We have a couple of ideas to get you started if you need some creative inspiration:


Many of us love to keep something from our child’s ‘first’. Whether it’s their first haircut, first outfit or first pair of shoes. Instead of placing these in a box under the bed to gather dust, why not make a nice memento. Using a deep set photo frame, you can create a unique way to display their first shoes or outfit. To really make this display a feature, you could add their name with old scrabble tiles, or cover the background with wallpaper.

If you’re not feeling creative, you can also purchase ‘my first shoes’ keepsake boxes.


A fun and unique way to repurpose old shoes is as a doorstop. Not only will you have something functional, but it will be a real talking point too.

It’s so simple to do, so makes it ideal for getting the kids involved. Give them an old shoe or boot and ask them to fill with stones or sand.

If you’d prefer a more permanent option, fill with cement instead.


Our final recommendation would be to take the shoes apart to salvage and re-use some of the parts. Laces, zips and buckles could carefully be removed by a responsible adult and re-used elsewhere.