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Native Shoes, Zappos Are Turning Old Shoes into Playgrounds

Native Shoes is reducing its footprint, both figuratively and literally.

The “100 percent beast-free” (read: vegan) Canadian footwear brand has joined forces with Zappos for Good, the Amazon-owned e-tailer’s philanthropic arm, to recycle castoff Native Shoes into cushy matting for playgrounds.

Dubbed the Remix Project, the initiative is part of Native Shoes’ big-picture ambition to manage every step of its products’ life cycle by 2023. Consumers can help build playgrounds, the company says, by visiting Zappos for Good, requesting a free shipping label and sending all unwanted styles of Native Shoes for grinding up. 

The Remix Project aims to receive 10,000 shoes by Dec. 31 and construct its first playground in 2019.

“Our customers are always showing us how to keep it lite’ and have fun when they wear Native Shoes,” said Kyle Housman, president of Native Shoes, in a statement. “It seemed like a perfect fit to turn them into something useful, on a playground where communities gather to have fun and play. We’re excited to be working with Zappos for Good on this project—what a great opportunity to team up and bring fun to communities.”

Launched last November, Zappos for Good is the company’s way of “spreading happiness and nurturing and celebrating the good in everyone,” said Steven Bautista, head of Zappos for Good at Zappos, which likes to call itself a customer-service company that just happens to sell shoes and clothing.

“As an advocate for environmental sustainability, joining forces with Native Shoes is an amazing opportunity to help communities do more with less by encouraging an environmental best practice in the retail industry that simultaneously creates a fun space for kids­—and their imaginations—to run wild,” Bautista said. “With our overarching goal of delivering happiness, this project’s sustainability efforts allow us to spread smiles on both a national and local level.”

Zappos for Good has more than recycling on its mind, too. This month, it worked with pop band (and fellow Las Vegan) Imagine Dragons to create a limited-edition Superga sneaker to benefit the Tyler Robinson Foundation and its work with pediatric cancer patients. For the holiday season, the organization and retired professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal are fielding donations of new toys, which they will distribute to families in need.