Feet are kind of a funny thing. Your feet affect your whole body. If my feet hurt, I feel terrible all over. If my feet feel good, I can do just about anything. Can you remember as a kid what it was like to run around barefoot in the soft spring grass? That was a great feeling!
Can you imagine what it’s like to go barefoot every day in muddy bogs during a rainy season? Or to walk on hot, parched and rocky soil without shoes? Many children — and adults — experience that every day. In fact, in some parts of the world, many children have never even owned a pair of shoes. There are people who have lost everything because of natural disasters, and they would treasure a pair of shoes. We take a lot for granted in our cushy little world where the greatest concern many of us have is whether we are wearing the most popular brand of shoes.
This spring, Georgia residents have a chance to share their “soles.” Corny, I know, but Georgia residents can add a shoebox to their recycling collection bins for the month of April. Liberty County will participate in a shoe-collection campaign, giving all of us the opportunity to share the no-longer-worn soles in our closets. Soles4Souls, the international shoe charity, is coordinating a “Turn Up the Sole” campaign in Georgia in partnership with the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, the Georgia Recycling Coalition, 1-800-Got-Junk?, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Whole Foods. This Earth Day initiative will give thousands of individuals around Georgia the chance to recycle their new or gently worn shoes.
“Spring is a busy time for environmental efforts in communities across our state with the Great American Cleanup campaign and Earth Day celebrations,” Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation Executive Director Sarah Visser said, “and Turn Up the Sole is a great way to connect those efforts to social issues of poverty and need. This is true sustainability.”
Considering that more than 300 million shoes a year end up in landfills in America, it’s easy to see how this statewide recycling campaign can do even more good than just helping others get shoes. When these shoes break down in our landfills, the toxic glue that holds the shoes together can leak into our water supply and atmosphere. This campaign offers a simple way to help reduce the strain on our environment: donate your gently worn shoes to people in need instead of throwing them away.
Soles4Souls cleans the donated shoes and ships them to needy people around the world, who will treasure the gift for years to come. Since its inception following the Asian tsunami, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 17 million pairs to people in 127 countries. Your shoes can become international travelers! With one in four people living in poverty around the world, many do not have access to footwear, so your shoes — whether they are Jimmy Choos or Keds sneakers — will be greatly appreciated.
“Donating is surely the highest form of reuse,” Georgia Recycling Coalition Executive Director Gloria Hardegree said. I hope you agree with her. Most of our closets are full of shoes we rarely wear. Instead of dropping the unwanted pairs in the trash, consider stopping by one of our local drop-off sites in April — including a special drop-off at our sixth annual Earth Day Celebration on April 23 — and sending some of your old soles on an adventure to someone who needs them. I will provide more drop-off information soon, but start going through your shoe closet now. I bet your feet will feel good about this.
Upcoming events: City-wide cleanups
March 24: Allenhurst, Gum Branch and Midway
April 14: Flemington and Riceboro
April 28: Hinesville and Walthourville
To volunteer your group or as an individual for one of this year’s Great American Cleanup events, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All cleanup supplies, a picnic lunch and T-shirts will be provided for all volunteers.