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Nike's new program will help you get rid of your old, smelly sneakers — here's how to try it out

Participating stores allow you to donate used athletic shoes of any brand, no matter the condition.

Move to Zero, get rid of your old, smelly sneakers

Photo Credit: iStock

As part of its Move to Zero program, selected Nike stores will take back your old shoes and athletic gear to help reduce the amount that ends up in the landfill.

How does the Move to Zero program work?

Even when your shoes can't handle another mile and your toes are starting to see daylight out of the ends of your sneakers, Nike wants them back.

Participating stores allow you to donate used athletic shoes of any brand, no matter the condition. Once you drop off your old Nike products, the team will sort through them to determine what can be recycled and what can be cleaned and donated. 

Most Nikes stores accept any brand of athletic sneakers. However, the company doesn't accept sandals, dress shoes, boots, or shoes with metal such as cleats or spikes. Some stores also accept clothing such as athletic tops or bottoms but don't accept socks, underwear, or clothes with metal fittings. You can find a list of all participating stores on the website.

Whether it ends up recycled into one of Nike's latest innovations or not, it all helps divert usable materials from ending up in the landfill.

Why is Nike's Move to Zero program important?

The fashion industry is a big contributor to the amount of waste in landfills with a huge 64% of the 32 billion garments produced each year ending up being trashed — every 16 seconds the equivalent of the height of the Eiffel Tower is added to the waste pile.

This is why brands, such as Nike, are moving towards a zero-waste goal. Nike is aiming to achieve both zero waste and zero carbon emissions through a variety of methods including using sustainable materials, investing in sustainable innovation, and increasing its recycling and reusing schemes like this one. 

John Hoke, chief design officer at Nike said, "At Nike, we believe in the unlimited potential of athletes. We have an obligation to consider the complete design solution, inclusive of how we source it, make it, use it, return it, and, ultimately, how we reimagine it."

"By focusing on progress and not perfection and by making better choices, we embrace the chance to reconsider our craft in hope that it forms a ground swell of change," he added.

Controversy surrounding the brand

While Nike's alleged commitment to sustainable initiatives is commendable, the brand has received mixed reviews on some of its recycling initiatives. 

The company's partnership with Kirei, a company that turns ground-up sneakers — called Nike Grind fluff — into acoustic sound baffles, is a prime example of upcycling goods in a valuable way to create useful new products and keep materials out of landfills.

But Nike has also been called out for sending small packets of the same Grind fluff in plastic keychains to consumers with new sneaker orders. Needless to say, inserting a pouch of ground-up plastic that most customers will end up tossing in the trash is not the portrait of sustainability. 

For those looking for another option, GotSneakers is a reputable sneaker recycling program that will even pay you to recycle your worn-out sneakers.

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