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How To Recycle Your Used Fitness Gear

by Jordan Smith - May 20, 2021

Once you've found the best running shoes that support your miles and keep your feet blister-free or that sports bra that supports without digging in, it can be hard to let go. But your shoes, bras and gear only last so long. But rather than just tossing out those holey socks, check out these easy ways to upcycle it.

Remember: There are plenty of ways to help keep your clothing waste out of the landfill, and you'll want to do some research to make sure you're sustainably recycling your worn-out workout gear in the best way possible, but we’ve got your search started.

recycle workout clothes

Running Shoes

Maybe you meticulously log your miles, or maybe you just toss your shoes once they look worn. Typically, it's recommended to replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles (less for race-day shoes). Depending on how worn your athletic sneakers are, you can look into donating them. Some organizations, such as Soles4Souls, accept used shoes and clothes donations to distribute to those in need. There are also several organizations, such as Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program that take used running shoes (and any other kind of athletic shoes) and recycles them into materials like clothing or turns them into surfaces for tracks.

Sports Bras

As tempting as it is to hang on to that perfect sports bra, once it's no longer providing proper support, it's unfortunately time to let it go. You can find companies that will accept sports bras and recycle them, such as Knickey, which provides a shipping label and a way for you to recycle your saggy sports bras (and holey socks and undies, too!).

Workout Clothes

One way to get rid of your workout clothes is to donate them. But before considering where to take them, give them a once over. Is it something that you bought but didn’t fit quite right? Maybe it's barely worn. If you want to make some extra money, you can try taking it to your local secondhand store (which is also a great place to score gently used workout gear for cheap and help the planet!).

Or, you can donate to a local charity, such as one that supports youth sports. Another option is to find a local donation center. You can check ahead of time to see if they are part of a recycling program — that way if they determine anything is a little too, um, stinky to pass on to someone else, you know it will get recycled. Before donating your workout clothes, be sure to give them a fresh wash.

Depending on the brand, used clothes might be accepted back into the brand's recycling program. (For example, Patagonia does this). You can also cut up your tattered tank or worn-down socks to turn into cleaning rags.

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