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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey


Keeping Sneakers Out of the Landfill

 Keeping Sneakers Out of the Landfill

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Athletic shoes last 300 to 500 miles, and because they’re made of many different materials, most cities can’t recycle them. Sneakers often contain synthetic substances like ethylene-vinyl acetate to keep them from breaking down while we work out, but those same polymers also render our kicks nonbiodegradable. 

Athletic footwear languishing in landfills releases volatile organic compounds linked to asthma, cancer and other health complications. Instead of discarding old shoes that will take 30 to 40 years to decompose, consider these alternatives.

Finding a Home for Still-Wearable Shoes

  • Donate: Organizations like or distribute used shoes to those in need all over the world. The people behind help small businesses in developing countries sell gently used sneakers, providing affordable footwear in places where it is not otherwise available. 
  • Sell: There is a robust secondhand market for like-new athletic shoes. Check out Facebook Marketplace, or a local consignment store.  
  • Swap: Trade with friends or buy-nothing groups for a no-cost, fresh look. 

Repairing Busted Kicks

  • Local Cobbler: Find a neighborhood shoe repair store to fix the hole in the toe, refurbish a deteriorating tongue or correct an ill-fitting shoe. 
  • Mail Order offers factory-quality shoe renewal by mail-order. Repairs are performed in San Diego.

Managing Expired Sneakers

  • Sustainable Shoes: Eco-forward companies are manufacturing fully recyclable sneakers from a combination of biodegradable elements (castor beans, coconut husk, sugar cane) and recycled materials (yoga mats, fishing nets, plastic bottles). Customers can trade in used shoes to be recycled into new pairs. Learn more at and
  • Local Recycling: Some neighborhood shoe stores take old shoes and recycle or donate them for free. 
  • Manufacturer Recycling: Before trashing a pair of sneakers, check the manufacturer’s recycling policy. Nike, for example, encourages its customers to drop off old athletic shoes at participating stores. Used Nikes are either cleaned, upcycled and donated, or recycled into new shoes or playground materials.
  • TerraCycle: This organization recycles all sorts of items, including sneakers. Learn more at
  • Repurposing: Find ways to use old sneakers for other purposes, such as yard-work shoes, birdhouses, scarecrow shoes or Halloween decorations. The insole padding can be turned into knee pads. Mesh can be repurposed into bags or pouches. 
  • Composting: Natural shoes made of cotton, bamboo or hemp are compostable, but do the homework to make sure they don’t have any synthetic materials. 
Tick Talk

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warm winds, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed and we are just starting with the yard work that comes with the warmer weather.  Sadly, another season has started ramping up.  Tick season.

•             The best form of protection is prevention. Educating oneself about tick activity and how our behaviors overlap with tick habitats is the first step.

•             According to the NJ DOH, in 2022 Hunterdon County led the state with a Lyme disease incidence rate of 426 cases per 100,000 people. The fact is ticks spend approximately 90% of their lives not on a host but aggressively searching for one, molting to their next stage or over-wintering. This is why a tick remediation program should be implemented on school grounds where NJ DOH deems high risk for tick exposure and subsequent attachment to human hosts.

•             Governor Murphy has signed a bill that mandates tick education in NJ public schools. See this for the details.  Tick education must now be incorporated into K-12 school curriculum. See link:

•             May is a great month to remind the public that tick activity is in full swing. In New Jersey, there are many tickborne diseases that affect residents, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan, and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

•             For years, the focus has mainly been about protecting ourselves from Lyme disease. But other tick-borne diseases are on the rise in Central Jersey. An increase of incidence of Babesia and Anaplasma are sidelining people too. These two pathogens are scary because they effect our blood cells. Babesia affects the red blood cells and Anaplasma effects the white blood cells.

•             Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen. When you contract Lyme it is possible to contract more than just that one disease. This is called a co-infection. It is super important to pay attention to your symptoms. See link.

A good resource from the State:


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