I'd like to recycle my old rain boots somehow, if I can. I would donate them, but they're worn beyond the point they'd be acceptable—holes and such. Help?
Rain boots and other footwear fall under the waste category of textiles, which makes up 8.7 percent of the 251 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in 2012. That’s over 20 million pounds of things like clothing, carpeting, rags — and rain boots! Unfortunately, textiles are not accepted by most curbside recycling programs, so it’s difficult to know what to do with your clothes at the end of their useful life when donating isn’t an option. Even trickier are your old rain boots, as they could be made from either rubber or other man-made materials, like GORE-TEX®, vinyl (PVC, plastic number 3), or a number of synthetic rubbers, that are not readily accepted by your local recycling processor.
But don’t give up just yet! To get even more mileage out of your holey rain boots, try taking them to a shoe repair shop or research online videos on how to repair those holes and cracks using adhesives like Shoe Goo or other sealants. If the boots truly are beyond repair for reuse and cannot be donated for others to enjoy, then check if your town has a post-consumer textile recycling program where footwear can be dropped off. A number of cities in states such as New York, Connecticut, and Illinois already have such programs in place, while other communities are slowly following suit.
You could also search for local collection points managed by private recycling companies. USAgain and American Textile Recycling Service are just two examples of private recyclers that will accept rain boots, among clothing, shoes, and other textiles, in collection bins operated in several states.
And once you’re in the market for new rain boots, look for manufacturers with take-back programs. For example, Kamik sells rain boots that the company will take back at the end of its life to be recycled. It also helps to choose a durable, classic-looking pair that can keep your feet dry for many seasons before needing to be permanently retired.