Last week, I collected a bunch of old shoes from colleagues at work for recycling. All I had to do was send out a company-wide email and put up a large bin in an accessible area. The shoes came flying in. I'll be dropping them off today at a nearby running store that I'd contacted before embarking on this drive.
I learned something in the process. Most of us don't recycle shoes since we don't know that it can be done. Instead, we just put them in the garbage and ultimately it ends up in a landfill somewhere. However, if more of us knew about recycling, more of us would be willing to do so. One of the questions many of them had was: what happens to recycled shoes? I must admit, I didn't know much other than that they were broken down to be used for playground surfacing. I looked it up online and it's a bit more exciting than that. They actually break the shoes into their constituents such as fabric, foam, and rubber. These are then ground up into tiny bits which then go into the surfacing of playgrounds, soccer, football, and baseball fields, athletic tracks, padding under the floors of basketball/volleyball courts, weight room flooring, etc.
So, if you want to do something similar, it's very easy. Simply contact your local running store and see if they recycle shoes. Most would. Keep in mind they only recycle sports shoes. No dress shoes, no hiking boots, no thongs, no sandals. You could then contact your neighbors or work colleagues and tell them about your sole intention. Most people are very willing to cooperate and would be more than happy to get rid of their old shoes sitting in the garage/attic/backyard, if they know that their shoes are going towards a worthy cause. Go for it!