Jacob Dailey, rural Goessel teenager, spent part of his recent spring break cleaning up old shoes in his family’s basement. He spent another part of it researching recycling opportunities online and found a great project to turn old sports shoes his family was going to burn, into energy-wielding tiles that could light up a variety of venues.
“We take stuff to the recycling bins in Goessel once a week and burn the rest,” he said. “It just seemed a shame to burn all these shoes. I looked for alternative online and came up with the Nike Re-Use A Shoe group project. It just seemed to fit perfectly with where I am in 4-H and with our need to get rid of all these shoes.”
Nike Grind, an offshoot of the Re-Use A Shoe project, teamed up with an innovative new company in England called Pavegen, which makes surface padding from recycled shoes and infuses it with components that create kinetic energy from foot traffic. At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, four Pavegen-infused tiles produced enough energy to power 16 LED spotlights when they were installed in high-traffic walkways. They could also be used to light up flooring in sports arenas, shopping malls, basketball courts or anywhere people walk regularly.
Dailey’s part in the Nike sponsored process is to be in charge of shoe drive collection points in the community.
“At this time there is a drop box at the Goessel City Library and at the Marion County Extension Office in Marion, but I am looking for some more drop off locations,” he said. “I’ve committed to collecting 500 shoes but if everyone puts a bit of effort into spreading the word, we could collect a lot more!”
Dailey is a 10-year-member of the Goessel Goal Getters 4-H Club in Marion County and hopes his shoe drive will help him attain a Key Award at the end of the 4-H year. The Key Award is one of the highest honors 4-H’ers can attain under the age of 17. A requirement for the award is to be involved in community service, and more importantly demonstrate leadership in a beneficial role.
He is excited about the opportunities made possible by simply collecting old shoes from under the bed, and in his case, during the family basement spring-cleaning.
“There are two facilities which process the old sports shoes into recyclable material,” Dailey said. “One in Tennessee slices the shoes up into three parts, rubber outsole, foam midsole and the fiber upper. These parts are used to create new products such as track surfaces, interlocking gym floor tiles, and playground surfaces. The other facility in Belgium recycles old shoes to create energy tiles which can light up places they are installed.”
Dailey said he will be accepting shoes from now until Sept. 1. Others can join him in hosting drop boxes at local schools or businesses. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.