Saving shoes one step at a time

Pristine Villarreal

PALM DESERT, CA – Fitness professional Alma Smith knows all about the importance of athletic shoes, saying they literally protect the soles of the human body.

“Without good shoes, you develop a lot of injuries,” she said. “Preventing injuries is paramount to keep people excited and continuing to workout.”

Smith owns and operates Orangetheory Fitness studios in Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

When she discovered hundreds of millions of shoes end up in landfills each year, she decided to step up and take action. Smith partnered with Sneaker Impact, a Miami-based startup with a goal of giving old sneakers new life.

“t feels great to extend the life of an item that otherwise would just be accumulating in a landfill,” Smith said. “It allows other people who couldn’t afford proper footwear to enjoy that.”

“Eighty seven percent of the public throw their perfectly fine footwear and apparel in the trash, not because they want to but because nobody has made an easy, efficient and fun way to do so,” said Moe Hachem, founder of Sneaker Impact.

Sneaker Impact places boxes at retailers nationwide, giving them free recycling opportunities. The old shoes are shipped to Sneaker Impact’s headquarters in Miami where they are either repurposed and sent around the world or deconstructed and used to make new products.

“t’s the right thing to do,” Hachem said. “Our number one issue should be reducing waste and rerouting these shoes where they belong: on people’s feet not in the landfills.”

At Orangetheory, members are dropping off shoes as Smith hopes this program inspires more recycling one step at a time.

“People love having the opportunity to do something very simple for somebody else to be environmentally conscious and spread the joy of having good footwear,” she said.

This story was written and reported by Kai Beech. 

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