While the lifespan of a shoe varies generally depends on the shoe design and construction, running surfaces, the runner’s weight/form/frequency, etc., most runners should expect a range of 350-500 miles out of a pair of rotated shoes. However some runners start experiencing pain after as few as 200 miles. As even casual runners can average 10 to 20 miles a week, it’s easy to see that a lot of running shoes are produced, sold and discarded in the United States each year. The production of these shoes is a material and energy intense process. And despite the fact that options exist for runners to reuse or recycle their old shoes, most old shoes still end up in landfills.
The latest issue of Runner’s World has an interesting article for runners who want to be green. It explains how shows are made and describes the challenges involved in designing and producing a more sustainable shoe. It is available on the Runner’s World website.
In addition to buying shoes that have been designed in an environmentally conscious manner, runners should be thoughtful about the way that they dispose of their used shoes and workout gear. Many companies are developing programs to help their customers dispose of old running shoes and clothing in a more responsible manner. For example, Patagonia has started a program where much of the running clothing that they produce can be returned to them so it can be processed into new clothing. Learn more about it here. Nike has a program where it collects old athletic shoes, so they can be ground up and turned into athletic surfaces. Learn more about it here. And a new company called Atayne is producing performance running clothing from recycled plastic materials. Atayne has a thought-provoking logo: “REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE RUN.” The Runner’s World website contains information about additional organizations that will help runners either reuse or recycle their old running shoes.