Keep Columbus Beautiful: First of its kind to collect shoes

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 13, 2013 

Keep Columbus Beautiful does exactly that — tries to keep our streets clean and once a year volunteers clean the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

This year, the commission decided to help local residents clean their closets by starting a shoe recycling project.

Since October, Keep Columbus Beautiful has been collecting new and gently used shoes. The original goal was to collect 1,200, 30-gallon plastic bags that contain 25 pairs of shoes each. Right now, the commission has 254 bags.

The final days to get your shoes to Keep Columbus Beautiful is 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday at the Recycling Center, 25 22nd Ave., across from the Dolly Madison plant on Victory Drive, and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Kmart on Macon Road.

"We'll take all different styles," said Gloria Weston-Smart, executive director. "We take baby shoes, toddler shoes, shoes for teens, adults, men and women's. We just ask for a complete pair of shoes."

Out of the 77 similar organizations under the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, Keep Columbus Beautiful is the first to conduct the shoe recycling project.

Chairwoman Beverly Kinner said other cities are watching carefully to see if Columbus' effort is successful.

About 30,000 pairs of shoes end up in our landfill every year, said co-chairwoman Cleo Griswold. Some, like high-tech shoes, take as much as 1,000 years to decompose. Leather shoes may take 45 years and rubber-soled shoes may take 80 years.

"I was amazed at what I read," Kinner said.

These shoes will go to an organization that will refurbish shoes and disinfect them and send them to undeveloped countries where the shoes will be welcomed, Weston-Smart said.

"We hope to get at least 350 bags," Kinner said.

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