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Got Sneakers?: WACS Holding Old Shoe Donation Drive

Instead of throwing away tatty, old sneakers, people can bring them to WACS middle school to be recycled Submitted photo

WESTFIELD — According to four independent sources, 300 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills each year in the United States, where they take from 30 to 40 years to break down.

Middle school students at Westfield Academy and Central School are taking action to do something about it while raising money for student government.

“Got Sneakers is a sneaker-recycling organization,” said Lauren Nelson, who along with faculty member Steve Holmberg is conducting the fund raiser. “The idea is that our club, Middle School Student Government, collects athletic shoes in any condition. We send the shoes into the organization and for every pair we send in, Got Sneakers will give us a monetary amount.”

The amount the school receives for each pair of sneakers depends on the condition of the sneakers, Nelson said.

“Got Sneakers reuses and recycles the athletic shoes we send in. Some shoes are in great condition, so they are able to be reused as sneakers,” she said. “Others are recycled into materials to be reused, like for playground mulch.”

Nelson went on to say that Got Sneakers will send a check to the school at the end of the fundraiser.

“This will go directly toward Middle School Student Government activities, such as our Halloween dance or academic role incentives,” she said.

According to gotsneakers.com, most people throw away their used sneakers every 125 to 200 days without ever thinking about recycling. Since sneakers are manufactured with materials that are not biodegradable, they remain in landfills or are incinerated, which leads to toxic chemicals in our air and soil.

Furthermore, the organization points out that the process of manufacturing sneakers produces large amounts of CO2 which contributes to climate change and global warming. Recycling and reusing sneakers keeps sneakers out of landfills, reduces the need for manufacturing new shoes and sneakers, and supports a growing circular economy.

The circular economy to which Got Sneakers refers begins with manufacturing, followed by shipping, after which consumers purchase and use the sneakers, and, finally, recycling and reusing the sneakers.

Nelson said that she and Holmberg heard about this fundraiser being used in the community.

“We thought it was a great idea,” she said. “We thought this fundraiser was a great way to help our environment: reduce, reuse, recycle! This fundraiser is a fun, easy and resourceful one that students, families and the community can participate in to help our club, while also making a difference in our environment.”

The fundraiser also helps students in many ways, Nelson said.

“We really like this fundraiser because it helps to teach students community service, helping our environment by reusing and recycling old sneakers, and to work hard towards our goals,” she said.

People who wish to donate sneakers can drop them off in a box, which is in the main lobby of the school. There will also be a drive-through collection on October 15 from 10 a.m. to noon outside the school’s cafeteria.

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