How to Recycle Old Gear and Lessen Your Impact

Most of us who play outdoors immerse ourselves in the natural world to relax, escape, and be inspired. We adore the outdoors and do our best to protect the precious environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling our waste. As a parent, I am particularly interested in teaching my daughters that it is fun to spend time outdoors, training them how to lessen their impact on nature, and to encourage their growth as environmental stewards. We should all aspire to reduce our impact and there are many ways to do so. Recycling your used outdoor gear is one of those ways.

In a recent (unscientific) poll taken, in the comment area, of a #TeamSierra giveaway on my site multiple people mentioned they donate their used outdoor clothing and gear, which is a reuse of the gear, making it recycled. Some keep and use the gear until it's old and worn and many share with friends. This is fantastic to hear.

Recycle old outdoor gear Photo by Andy Arthur


Clothing and shoes are big expenditures in my household. Those of you with children know how these expenses add up so most of our clothes are passed down to the younger set and even beyond that to cousins and friends and ultimately to a nonprofit or other group in need.

Unless gear is in pieces or thrashed there's no reason to throw it away. And even if it is shredded you just might be able to "craft" or "upcycle" new gear using your old.

I searched online using many keywords "recycle outdoor gear", "donate outdoor gear", "donate camping gear", etc. and found numerous sites and resources to get you started. Even on Pinterest I found suggestions for reusing old hiking and rain boots as planters in the garden and creative people making all sorts of wallets and bags from old tent canvas.

Obviously, some items are trash, but why send anything good to the landfill?  Recycle it or upcycle it. Sell it. Donate it.

Here are some ways you can recycle your outdoor gear:

Donate

  • Pass down used clothing and shoes to the next generation. Beside reducing waste this helps reduce wasteful spending.

  • Nike Reuse-a-shoe program takes your old athletic shoes and creates a material used to resurface athletic fields, playgrounds and courts.

  • Donate clothing and boots to a local nonprofit to sell and earn money for their cause. Many Boy Scout troops have yard sales. Donate old hiking boots for them to sell to raise money for their troop.

  • Donate outdoor gear to nonprofits that take low risk, disabled, or low income youth outdoors.

  • Check with the national and local gear retailers. Frequently they list requests for donated camping and hiking gear in which they distribute to local area nonprofits.

  • Freecycle.org - changing the world one gift at a time

  • Gift your gear to a friend in need or introduce a friend to the outdoor sport you love and share your gear to get them started.

  • Donate bicycles to nonprofits that provide to underprivileged children.


Recycle old gear Photo by Peter Blanchard


Recycle, Upcycle, Repurpose

The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination on this one or search for inspiration online.

  • Recycle backpacking fuel canisters using the CrunchIt tool

  • Many outdoor companies now offer recycling programs. Check their websites.

  • Before you throw that torn tent away, save and clean the tent fabric. Sew handbags, grocery bags, or wallets.

  • Make a kids indoor fort canopy using an old tent.

  • Use old boots as planters in your garden.

  • Use old skis to make a coat rack, fence, or chair.

  • Keep extra backpacks and hiking gear on hand for your guests to use when they visit.


Sell

There are many options for selling your old gear.

  • Yard sales

  • Craigslist

  • Auction sites

  • Outdoor consignment shops

  • Online gear trade websites

  • Outdoor internet forums

  • Your own website store


Before you trash those boots or tent take a brief pause and consider an alternative. Can this product serve another purpose? Is there a recycling program I can use? Every little bit helps and by donating, reusing, selling, or sharing outdoor gear, collectively, we can make a big difference.

How do you recycle old gear?

Walk Simply

-Traci Lehman is an IT Analyst by trade and when she's not in the office she shares her walking and outdoor adventures on Walk Simply. Based in Southern California, Traci hopes to inspire others to go outside, enjoy the little things, and view our world up-close. Follow along on her adventures and keep up on her newest contributions here and on her own blog on Twitter. Just like pictures? Traci's a fan, too. Check out her adventures on Instagram.

Team Sierra
Traci Lehman
posted by
Traci Lehman
Blogger at Walk Simply
Traci Lehman is an IT Analyst by trade and when she's not in the office she shares her walking and outdoor adventures on Walk Simply. Based in Southern California, Traci hopes to inspire others to go outside, enjoy the little things, and view our world up-close. Follow along on her adventures and keep up on her newest contributions here, on her own blog or on Twitter.
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