Kids’ Shoes: Throw, Upcycle or Donate?

They can be a tough call, the kids’ shoes. Often costly and quickly outgrown, many parents are deluded about what to do with their kids’ footwear. They could easily make another child happy, but should you be passing on shoes?

With the Shoe Bank donation taking place at major schools and clubs in Singapore this month, we thought we’d dig into the most common questions many of us ask when faced with a pile of old shoes:

  • What to do with our kids’ shoes when too unappealing, too worn or too small?
  • Myth or a true fact that wearing someone else’s could affect your feet?
  • How can we keep shoes for longer through upcycling or repair?

We’ve consulted with eco-designer, Roxane Uzureau,  podiatrist, Helen Crawford and kids’ shoe retailer, Ten Feet Tall, to get the inss and outs on kids’ feet and what to do with their shoes. So, make sure to read on:

When the shoes are worn

You know the feeling when it almost feels good to get rid of a pair of stained or worn shoes: “They got used” (in contrast to a long line of other shoes in the cupboard). But…. if they still fit, would you really have to let them go? Roxane Uzureau explores:

“It’s always good to have a good look at your shoes before you pass them on. If they are just discoloured, have small tears or a worn sole, they are still wearable. Most soles can be replaced and you can go to a cobbler and get white or nude leather coloured brown and canvas shoes can get a dye too. For kids it can also be fun to be creative by using fun patches to cover tears or stains”.

But what if your shoes are full of holes and not to be saved? Well, many brands are creating shoe lines out of recycled materials: Veja, Indosole and Rothy’s among many, but donating your shoes for recycling is not yet an option:

“Soles are made of vulcanised or plastic rubber and vulcanisation is an irreversible process”, Roxane Uzureau explains.

However, with the rapid development in innovation, this is always a matter of time. Last month, Adidas released their Future Loop shoe that isn’t just 100% produced out of recyclable materials but made with materials that can be used again in other shoes. No doubt, many other brands will follow suit.

Can other children wear preloved shoes?

We all experience that our children have been given shoes that didn’t go down a treat or the shoes have been outgrown in what felt like seconds. We don’t have any problems passing these on to friend and family, however, the doubt arises with the shoes that have been used more extensively. Should they even be passed down? We asked podiatrist Helen Crawford:

“Ideally you wouldn’t hand shoes down as every shoe changes according to the persons gait and the shape of their feet when worn. However in other parts of the world where children and adults have never owned a single pair of shoes, anything which covers the soles of the feet helps prevent injury and reduces parasite infection. “

Knowing that your donated shoes end up in the right hands, is therefore vital when passing on the preloved footwear.

Where can I donate my children’s shoes?

Since the birth of Ten Feet Tall, Founders Sam Shorten and Nicola Bradell have asked customers to bring back their old shoes when buying new ones, and the ‘shoe-ladies’ have collected an impressive 2000 pairs so far. The shoes are hand-delivered to children in need in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and India and through a new partnership with US non-profit “Soles 4 Souls”,  Ten Feet Tall now collect any type of footwear.

“Millions of shoes lay idle in the back of people’s cupboards,” says Sam Shorten. “One person’s unwanted shoes can have a powerful impact in preventing disease, driving micro-enterprise and reducing landfill. To know the positive effect we can have around the world by simply collecting and donating what is otherwise destined for the rubbish bin is a really great feeling.”

Now, if you (or your cupboard) is desperate to offload some shoes, this is the month to do it. In the next 5 weeks, Ten Feet Tall are hosting 17 “Kick Off Your Shoes” events with schools and clubs, and when donating, your child even gets to place a handwritten note for the new owner of their shoes and the footwear will be cleaned and polished for new use.

Check out the 2019 locations here:

  • Nexus International School – 6-14 June
  • Singapore American School – 7 June
  • Founders Day at Dulwich College – 8 June
  • Hollandse Club – 8-9 June
  • Singapore American International School – 11-13 June
  • The British Club – 15 June
  • Australian International School – 20 June
  • UWCSEA Dover – 21 June
  • UWCSEA Tampines – 20-21 June
  • The Yard Jurong – 22-23 June
  • The Yard Dempsey – 22-23 June
  • Centaurs – 22 June
  • Dover Court International School – 26-27 June
  • Dulwich College Singapore – 28 June
  • Tanglin Trust School – 1-5 July

And how do you then help?

  • Reduce disease by covering the soles of the feet and preventing parasitic infection
  • Provide shoes for micro-enterprises to sell at roadside shops or market stalls to create a sustainable income
  • Help families rebuild their lives in the wake of natural disasters such as food, fire or earthquakes
  • Reduce landfill and help protect the environment

If you would like to drop shoes into the Holland Village fitting studio, please email [email protected].

This article was sponsored by Teen Feet Tall.


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