By Tyler Cooke, Emory University Track and Field
Over 60 members of the Emory Track and Field Team cut their winter break short to return to campus a week early for their traditional Early Return training camp. The team struggled through freezing weather, two-a-day workouts, and cramped dorm rooms, but came through victorious, just in time for the start of the semester. In addition to improving their athletic skills, the Track and Field team also uses Early Return as an opportunity to give back to the community through an annual service project.
This year, the Emory Track and Field team partnered with Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. Started in the 1990s, Nike's shoe recycling program turns old, unusable athletic shoes into new athletic surfaces. Since the program's inception, Nike has collected over 28 million pairs of shoes and covered over 638 million square feet with Nike Grind, an area nearly the size of Manhattan. Not an ounce of the shoe goes to waste, and Nike has even incorporated some of the recycled material into a new line of products. The Reuse-A-Shoe program is part of Nike's Better World initiative, which includes other programs that plastic bottles into clothes and use simpler manufacturing techniques to produce more with less waste.
For Emory's track team, this partnership took the form of a door-to-door collection program. On a gray Saturday afternoon, exhausted from their relentless training regimen, the team took to the streets and neighborhoods around campus. Carrying oversized garbage bags and decked out in Emory gear, groups of athletes headed out into the cold to ask local residents for any extra athletic shoes. Junior Lukas Mees enjoyed working on the project, and said, "It was great to reach out to the community and help protect the environment."
Over 200 pairs of shoes were collected, and the project is far from over! Donation boxes with the motto "Just Do(nate) It" have been placed in several locations around the WoodPEC. The Reuse-A-Shoe program accepts any kind of athletic shoe with a rubber sole, but no spikes, cleats, boots, or flip-flops. Help us reduce our landfill waste, and clean out your closet at the same time!