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National Recycling Day: Rothy’s past, present and future.

National Recycling Day is celebrated each year on November 15. At Rothy’s, building a sustainable future for people and the planet is at the heart of everything we do. We've focused on recycling since day one, transforming millions of single-use plastic water bottles into our signature thread. Our next step is closing the loop: Taking twice-recycled thread from shoes at the end of their life and repurposing them into brand new Rothy's. 

Back in March 2021, we announced an ambitious 3-year goal: achieving circular production by 2023. From thoughtful product design to careful material sourcing to creating washable, durable items and developing end-of-wear recycling options, our goal is to keep Rothy’s out of landfills. One key milestone in our journey? Piloting a shoe recycling program. In celebration of National Recycling Day, we’re excited to share the results to date, what we’ve learned and what we plan to do next.


Early Steps 

We started our internal recycling pilot in April 2021 using damaged returns, learning how to disassemble each silhouette and finding partners to recycle each material. To date, we’ve recycled more than 1,000 pairs of Rothy’s shoes. 

Last month, we invited our customers (aka you!) to bring your end-of-life Rothy's to our retail stores as part of our as part of our first store takeback event. Thank you to everyone who participated. More than 500 pairs of shoes were collected—Rothy’s Georgetown topped the most donations with 135 pairs. We're testing ways to use the uppers of the shoes collected for new Rothy's products—bringing us one step closer towards circular production. 

Each phase has been an opportunity to test and learn. For example? We learned from customers that they want to be able to recycle their Rothy’s even if they don’t live near one of our retail stores.

We also learned that many customers are still wearing Rothy’s shoes from 5 years ago. Our shoes are made to last. And know that while you don’t have to give up your Rothy’s, there will be a recycling option if and when you’re ready. 

Now, as we focus our efforts on how to scale up that recycling program, we want to take a moment to thank everyone who chose to recycle old shoes at Rothy’s—you’re helping our sustainability goals come full circle. That’s what circularity is all about.

 


Next Steps

Using recycled materials and eliminating waste in production are part of Rothy’s DNA; this pilot program was just one aspect of how we consider every step of our process and how we strive to keep Rothy’s out of landfills. Now we’re preparing for the full-scale, official launch of a Rothy’s recycling program in 2022. We’re also working on expanding our reach to create an accessible recycling program for all customers. Using old Rothy’s to make brand new Rothy’s is how we come full circle.

Ready to lighten your step?

While we love National Recycling Day, every day is recycling day at Rothy’s. As part of the Keep America Beautiful initiative, National Recycling Day is dedicated to educating and motivating everyone to recycle and reduce their plastic use. Here are some ways you can do your part.


  • Make sure you’re tossing the right stuff in your recycling container.
  • Opt for reusable water bottles, shopping bags, coffee cups, utensils and more to limit your single use plastic.
  • Buy recycled products that are made to last. Help us reduce virgin materials by supporting brands who make products from recycled materials.
  • Upcycle. For example, instead of throwing away shirts that are no longer wearable, repurpose them as rags and cleaning towels. 

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