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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 27, 2009

Nike recycling program gives old shoes new life

Photo gallery: Nike Reuse-A-Shoe

By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lori Halasz of 'Aiea, a sales associate at Niketown, helped out yesterday at the fourth annual Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Campaign at Niketown in Waikiki. The Reuse-A-Shoe program recycles old shoes and sneakers, turning them into material for running tracks, basketball courts and playgrounds.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jose Morales of Kane'ohe lent a hand yesterday at the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe recycling program.

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It was 19,867 and counting yesterday as people across Hawai'i donated their old shoes to help Mother Earth.

Folks were driving up to Niketown in Waikiki and dropping off boxes of old shoes and sneakers as Honolulu firefighters dumped blue recycling bins full of shoes into a huge pile in front of the store. It was the place where old shoes go to die and then be reborn for the fourth annual Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Campaign.

Gail Izumi of Mililani, a student services coordinator at Wahiawa Elementary School, brought 20 pairs.

"It's a good cause, playgrounds, things for children," she said.

Niketown employee Char Kahele had a demonstration set up at the Reuse-A-Shoe booth and explained how old shoes can help the environment and build playgrounds:

The shoes are first disassembled at a recycling plant in Beaverton, Ore. The bottom of the shoe, known as the outsole, is then ground up into rubberized pellets to be used in playgrounds and running tracks.

The midsole, the next level up from the outsole, is turned into grind foam used in the construction of tennis courts and weight rooms.

Which leaves the uppers, which can be converted into layers of fabric padding used beneath the wooden floors of basketball courts.

Honolulu Fire Chief Ken Silva was on hand to boost the effort, which included recycling bins where people could drop off their old shoes at O'ahu fire stations.

"It's all about wellness, fitness ... I got two kids who go through shoes like water. So instead of dumping them into the landfill, we can recycle them," Silva said.

Publicist Mona Wood said this was the first year that Neighbor Islands had participated and those totals were still coming in so the final count would be more that the total of 19,867 shoes announced yesterday.

Standing in front of the huge pile of old shoes, Mufi Hannemann said it was fitting so many people would join forces to do something to reduce the trash flow to landfills and recycle during Earth Month.

He said that Honolulu was "the first municipal government in the country to partner with Nike" in the campaign and called it thrilling that the Neighbor Islands have joined to make it a statewide effort.

Reach John Windrow at jwindrow@honoluluadvertiser.com.