We should all do our part to help make the world a little greener. We can recycle cans and bottles, or we can use energy-efficient lightbulbs. We can try to conserve water. And now there is a new way of making a positive difference: cities and institutions all over the world are participating in Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program, which recycles used sneakers into playgrounds, and basketball and tennis courts. Take a look at how it’s done. Every shoe brought to Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe plant is broken down into three parts: rubber from the outsole, fabric from the upper, and foam from the midsole. First, sorters tear the shoe down, separating the different parts. Then a conveyor belt moves the sneaker parts into massive grinders. These grinders chop them up into raw material for three different athletic surfaces. The rubber is melted down to make the surface for running tracks. The fabric goes into padding for basketball courts, and the foam transforms into the tough but springy surface of tennis courts. Literally every part of the shoe is used. Pretty cool, right? Not only does the Reuse-A-Shoe program keep tons of used athletic shoes out of landfills, it brings people together and promotes awareness. Recycling projects such as this one is a growing trend towards being more environmentally aware of our actions. So gather up those sneakers, and recycle them. Because our kids need a place to play.

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Dennis Veasley

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