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[greenyes] 45 tons of shoes recycled in Madison

New life for old shoes
11:16 pm 11/18/04
George Hesselberg Wisconsin State Journal
On certain days, when you walk through the front door of Movin' Shoes, the
sweat smell of success greets you the way a windshield greets a box elder
Inside the entrance to the Park Street purveyor of athletic equipment is a
32-gallon plastic garbage can filled with old shoes.
"Stinky," observed a smiling sales clerk, Heidi Hiemke, after she pulled the
cover from the garbage can to reveal a heap of old shoes, topped by a size
12 Mizuno.
Movin' Shoes customers are big suppliers to Madison's unique and highly
successful Nike-sponsored Reuse-A-Shoe program, now entering its third year.
"To be honest, I thought it would only last a year," said George Dreckmann,
the city's recycling coordinator.
"We weren't sure there was a market. People had to bring in their shoes.
They weren't picked up. It was all voluntary. I was afraid we would just get
those first six pair of old shoes in the back of the closet, and that would
be it."
That was two years and 45 tons of shoes ago, an amount that would have
occupied at least a couple of truckloads of space in area landfills.
Nike pays for trucking the used shoes to the state of Oregon, where they are
ground into materials used in athletic facilities all over the world,
including right back here in Madison. The much complimented FieldTurf in
Camp Randall Stadium has Nike Grind in it, as does the indoor soccer pitch
at Keva Sports Center and the Green Bay Packers' Nitschke Field, said
A surge in shoe donations is expected as households clean out closets before
the winter shift to boots. Steve Schmidt, at the Shoe Box in Black Earth,
said its donation bins never seem to be empty.
"It's overwhelming. We're calling George (Dreckmann) every week with cases
and cases of shoes for recycling," Schmidt said.
The program is a success despite a limited number of drop- off points.
All brands of athletic shoes are accepted. Nike grinds them into three
materials: rubber from the outsole, used for baseball, soccer and football
fields as well as golf products, weight-room flooring and running tracks;
foam from the midsole, used in synthetic basketball courts, tennis courts
and playground surfacing; and fabric from the textile and leather uppers,
used in padding under hardwood basketball floors.
Judging by the contents of several large boxes waiting to be shipped out,
there is a certain shoe-discarding protocol:
There are the outgrown (smaller sizes, little Tyler's first cross-trainers),
the outlandish (really, high-heel sneakers?), the outsiders (the really worn
athletic shoes that have dropped in stature to garden shoes, house-paint
spotted, many still clogged with clippings from the last lawn mowing of the
fall), and, conversely, the "what-was-I-thinking" shoes that never got worn
at all, either because they were outmoded or didn't fit, or are samples
(right foot only) or were just too ugly to be worn in public, even on a
basketball court.
Eventually, they could end up beneath one.
Where to donate Drop off your athletic shoes at:
* Movin' Shoes, 604 S. Park St.
* Supreme Health and Fitness Center, 5555 Odana Road.
* Capital Fitness, 44 E. Mifflin St. and 302 E. Washington Ave.
* UW-Madison, 1430 Monroe St.
* The Shoe Box, Highway 14 and Mills, Black Earth.

The complete story -- with a great phto -- can be found on the Internet at

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