January 31, 2018
Four years ago, a local Strathcona County resident in Canada started the Alberta chapter of Soles4Souls when she discovered there was a need to keep running shoes out of the landfill. After a year of collecting shoes, the project expanded quickly, so she collaborated with Erin Wildeboer, Waste Diversion Program Liaison for the utilities department at Strathcona County. Strathcona County decided to collect gently-worn shoes year-round.
Aside from helping those in need, Erin was drawn to the idea that hosting a shoe drive would benefit the environment by keeping unwanted shoes out of landfills. “It brought more awareness to the fact that we don’t have to landfill these items. It educated people on where they can drop off shoes year-round as well,” said Erin. Since 2006, Soles4Souls has kept 23.7 million pounds of shoes and clothing out of landfills and given them a second life.
With the help of a monetary donation each year from Waste Connections Canada, Strathcona County decided to rally the support of the community by getting 33 schools involved to host shoe drives of their own during Waste Reduction Week October. In just two years, they have successfully collected more than 24,000 pairs. The donated shoes would benefit Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise programs that create meaningful job opportunities for people in developing countries. Erin explains, “It’s a great way for the kids to participate in something meaningful. It highlights our goal of waste diversion as well as helping others. It’s a win, win.”
Want to make an impact in your local community? Get more information on how to donate shoes or host a shoe drive here.