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SHOE RECYCLING: Urbandale students collect old shoes for Nike program

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Elementary students in Urbandale are learning recycling doesn't have to stop with cans and bottles.

Even old tennis shoes can become something new.

“They grind all the shoes up and turn them into basketball courts and running tracks,” said Grant Christy, a 5th grader at Webster Elementary.

Through Nike's ReUSE a Shoe program, old pairs are stripped into three parts: rubber, foam, and fabric.

The materials are ground up and then reused as the surface for athletic facilities.

So this month, the student council at Webster Elementary took up a collection.

“We had a bin either inside our classroom or outside that you'd put the shoes in,” said 4th grader Maia Bibbs.

Altogether the school collected 389 pairs of shoes.

“I didn't even think we would get to the hundreds, but we got over that,” said student Mikayla Zmolek.

“A lot of the classrooms would have their bins wide open because they were proud of the number of shoes they were collecting. But a lot of teachers definitely had the lids down because of the aroma, stench, whatever you want to call it,” said third grade teacher Bill Olson.

It's not just about the fabric and rubber. Each pair of shoes takes 2,000 gallons of water to make, according to Nike. That means Webster saved over 700-thousand gallons.

“It's just great to know that you're helping with the environment,” said Christy.

With the encouragement of the city of Urbandale, two other elementary schools are collecting shoes as well.

Two classrooms that collected the most shoes at each school received checks from the city of Urbandale–one hundred dollars for first and fifty dollars for second.

Nike covers the cost of shipping the shoes out to their facility.