BYFIELD — Some shoes are made for running the track while some can build a track. At least that’s what Triton athletic department secretary Karen Atherton is hoping as she collects pairs of shoes to assist the Team Triton Stadium Project.
“People tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, Karen. Do you have any idea how many pairs of sneakers and shoes that I have sitting in my closet that I’d love to find a home for?’” Atherton said. “I told them to bring them to the schools, the stores and the bank.”
Atherton and the Stadium Project partnered with ShoeBox Recycling in June of 2012, and so far have helped to recycle 5,167 pounds of old shoes, raising $2,583.50 toward the new stadium’s $2.5 million price tag along the way.
Triton and ShoeBox have also partnered with The Greater Boston Running Company, Yankee Runner and the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank and placed a shoe receptacle at each business, as well as at each of Triton’s five schools. Once a month, Atherton and Triton facilities manager Chris Walsh visit the sites to pick up the donations.
“There was a period of time where I was going at least once a week to the Greater Boston Running Company, because people were filling the boxes tight,” Atherton said.
ShoeBox has partnered with more than 2,600 different organizations, many of them schools, over the past two years, buying old and used pairs of shoes. The Pennsylvania-based company pays 50 cents a pound for the shoes and has recycled more than one million pounds of footwear in the past two years.
“Rubber lasts 200 years in a dump or landfill,” Atherton said. “To me, it was a great idea to get money from recycling and keep it away from the dumps.”
Once the shoes are back at Triton High School, Atherton boxes them up and ships them, prepaid to ShoeBox. From there the real journey begins. Thirty-five percent of the shoes stay domestic but the rest leave the country. Since ShoeBox has relationships all over the globe, the shoes are shipped and sold to vendors, cleaned and resold in countries such as Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guatemala, Chile, Kenya, India, Bolivia, Haiti, Poland and Zimbabwe. According to ShoeBox, more than 70 percent of the world’s population depends on shoe and clothing reuse to live.