How To Recycle Birkenstocks [6 Best Ways]

Recycling Birkenstock sandals or shoes is a responsible and environmentally friendly way to extend the life of your footwear while reducing waste.

Birkenstocks are known for their durability and comfort, and with proper care, they can last for many years.

However, when they finally reach the end of their life cycle or if you want to dispose of a pair that you no longer need, recycling is a great option. 

In the context of sustainable footwear practices, it’s worth noting that the U.S. Department of Interior reports a staggering statistic: a whopping 300 million shoes are thrown away each year, contributing to the growing issue of waste in our society (Source: brightly. eco).

This wasteful trend underscores the importance of considering responsible alternatives for footwear disposal.

In this guide, we’ll explore how to recycle Birkenstocks responsibly to minimize their impact on the environment.

We’ll cover different methods, such as reusing, donating, and recycling through appropriate channels, ensuring that your beloved Birkenstocks can have a second life while reducing the strain on landfills and resources.

Whether you’re a longtime Birkenstock enthusiast or just looking for ways to reduce your ecological footprint, recycling your Birkenstock footwear can be a simple yet impactful step towards sustainability.

What is Birkenstocks?

Birkenstock is a brand of shoes and sandals that are known for being really comfortable and good for your feet. They’re special because they have a special shape inside that helps support your feet in a natural way.

The bottom part is made of cork, which is a kind of wood, and latex, a rubbery material. This makes them soft and comfy to walk in. Many people like them because they last a long time and are good for your feet.

You might have seen sandals with two straps on top – those are often Birkenstocks, but they also make other types of shoes and sandals.

What to Do With Old Birkenstocks?

When you find yourself with a pair of old Birkenstocks that you no longer wish to wear or that have seen better days, there are several environmentally-conscious alternatives to consider instead of tossing them in the trash.

One option is to donate your old Birkenstocks if they’re still in good condition, as many charitable organizations accept gently used footwear. 

Another route is to explore recycling options; certain materials in Birkenstock sandals can be recycled, so check for local recycling programs or contact recycling centers for guidance.

If your Birkenstocks have creative potential, consider repurposing them in DIY projects, such as garden plant pot holders or art pieces.

Selling or trading them online, seeking Birkenstock’s repair or recrafting services, or incorporating them into craft projects are additional ways to give your old Birkenstocks new life while minimizing waste.

The Benefits of Recycling Your Shoes

Recycling your old shoes is a good thing for a few important reasons. First, it helps the environment.

When shoes end up in the trash, they can take a long time to break down, and that can be harmful to the planet.

Second, recycling shoes can give them a second life. Even if you don’t want to wear them anymore, someone else might find them useful. So, it’s a way to help others. 

Lastly, some parts of shoes, like the rubber soles, can be turned into new things, like playground surfaces or sports fields.

This means fewer new resources are needed, which is better for the Earth. So, recycling your old shoes is a win-win: it’s good for you, good for others, and good for our planet.

How to Recycle Birkenstocks Effectively?

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Recycling your old Birkenstocks effectively involves finding sustainable ways to dispose of them while minimizing waste. Here are some methods to consider:

#Donate: If your Birkenstocks are still in decent condition and can be worn, donating them to charities or organizations that collect footwear for those in need is a great option. This way, someone else can benefit from your gently-used shoes.

#Recycle Materials: Birkenstock sandals are made from various materials, such as cork, leather, and rubber.

Check with local recycling programs or centers to see if they accept shoes for recycling. Some materials from your old Birkenstocks may be repurposed into new products.

#Repurpose or Upcycle: Get creative and find new uses for your old Birkenstocks. The unique materials and designs can be used in DIY projects, like making plant pot holders, crafting art pieces, or even using the straps as colorful laces for other shoes.

#Sell or Trade: If your Birkenstocks are still in good condition, consider selling them online through platforms like eBay or Craigslist. You might also find consignment shops or secondhand stores willing to purchase them or offer a trade-in option.

#Contact Birkenstock: Reach out to Birkenstock directly to inquire about their repair and recrafting services. They may be able to refurbish or recycle your old Birkenstocks, extending their lifespan.

#Local Recycling Programs: Some regions have specific recycling programs for shoes. Contact your local waste management or recycling center to see if they have guidelines for recycling shoes, including Birkenstocks.

By choosing one or more of these methods, you can effectively recycle your old Birkenstocks, reducing waste, and contributing to a more sustainable approach to footwear disposal.

When is the Appropriate Time to Dispose of Birkenstocks?

The right time to get rid of your Birkenstocks depends on a few things. First, if they’re really worn out or damaged, it might be time.

Also, if they’re not comfortable anymore or you have foot problems, it’s a good reason to consider new shoes. Sometimes, it’s about your style changing or wanting something more eco-friendly. 

Birkenstocks can last a long time, but eventually, they wear down. So, the right time to say goodbye to your Birkenstocks is when they’re no longer working well for you, whether that’s because of how they feel, how they look, or how long you’ve had them.

How Do You Refurbish Birkenstocks?

Refurbishing Birkenstocks is like giving them a makeover to make them feel and look good again. First, check the soles and straps; if they’re damaged, you might need to replace them.

Cleaning them well with a damp cloth can make them look cleaner. Also, you can use a special cork sealer to protect the cork footbed. If the footbed feels less comfy, you can add new cork or foam to make it soft again. 

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take them to a Birkenstock store or a professional cobbler who knows how to fix them up nicely. Refurbishing Birkenstocks can help them last longer and keep your feet happy.

Can Birkenstocks Be Composted?

Birkenstocks, specifically the traditional ones with cork and leather components, are not suitable for composting in the same way that organic materials like food scraps and yard waste are.

While cork is a natural material, it doesn’t readily break down in a backyard compost pile and may take an exceptionally long time to decompose.

Additionally, the leather and synthetic materials used in Birkenstock straps and footbeds do not compost well and can introduce non-organic matter into your compost.

To dispose of old Birkenstocks in an eco-friendly manner, consider alternative options such as donating, recycling, or repurposing them.

These methods can help reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of your old footwear.

If your Birkenstocks are still in good condition, donating or finding someone who can use them is a great way to extend their lifespan and reduce waste.

Care and Maintenance of Birkenstocks

Taking proper care of your Birkenstocks can help extend their lifespan and ensure they remain comfortable and supportive. Here are some tips for their care and maintenance:

#Regular Cleaning: Clean your Birkenstocks regularly to remove dirt, sweat, and odors. Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away surface dirt.

For deeper cleaning, you can use a damp cloth or sponge with mild soap and water, but avoid soaking them.

#Cork Footbed: The cork footbed can become discolored or damaged if it gets wet. If your Birkenstocks get wet, let them air dry at room temperature, away from direct heat sources. Don’t expose them to extreme heat, as it can cause the cork to crack or warp.

#Leather Straps: If your Birkenstocks have leather straps, you can use a leather cleaner and conditioner to keep them soft and supple. This helps prevent the leather from drying out or cracking. Apply the conditioner sparingly and follow the product’s instructions.

#Suede Footbeds: Some Birkenstock models have suede footbeds. Use a suede brush to gently clean and refresh the suede surface. Avoid getting the suede wet.

#Storage: When not in use, store your Birkenstocks in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Avoid leaving them in a hot car or exposed to extreme temperatures.

#Replace Insoles: Over time, the cork-latex footbed may wear down. If you notice a loss of support or comfort, Birkenstock offers replacement insoles that you can easily insert into your sandals.

#Rotate Your Pairs: If you have multiple pairs of Birkenstocks, rotating them can help extend their lifespan as it allows each pair to air out between wears.

#Avoid Excessive Water Exposure: While Birkenstocks are designed to handle some moisture, avoid prolonged exposure to water, such as wearing them in heavy rain or submerging them in water.

 By following these care and maintenance tips, you can keep your Birkenstocks looking and feeling their best, ensuring that they continue to provide the comfort and support you love for many years.


In conclusion, recycling Birkenstocks is a responsible and sustainable approach to footwear disposal. Birkenstock sandals, known for their durability and comfort, can find new life even when they’re no longer suitable for your needs.

By exploring recycling options, such as donating, repurposing, or seeking professional refurbishing services, you can reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of your old Birkenstocks. 

This not only aligns with eco-conscious values but also contributes to a more sustainable future, where resources are conserved, and others can benefit from your well-loved footwear.

So, when the time comes to part ways with your Birkenstocks, remember that recycling them is a thoughtful choice that promotes both environmental and social well-being.


Can you restore old Birkenstocks?

Yes, you can restore old Birkenstocks. Restoring them means making them look and feel good again. If the soles are worn out, they can be replaced. Cleaning them with a damp cloth can make them look cleaner.

You can also use a special cork sealer to protect the cork footbed. If they feel less comfortable, you can add new cork or foam to make them soft again.

Sometimes, it’s best to take them to a Birkenstock store or a professional who knows how to fix them up nicely. Restoring old Birkenstocks can give them a new life and make them comfy for your feet once more.

Does water destroy Birkenstocks?

Water can harm Birkenstocks if they get too wet. It can make the cork footbed warp or grow mold. Water can also affect leather straps, making them stiff or cracked, and it can stain suede footbeds.

While Birkenstocks can handle some water, it’s best to avoid wearing them in heavy rain or letting them stay wet for too long. If they do get wet, make sure they dry completely before using them again.

Proper care can help keep your Birkenstocks in good shape, even when they encounter water.

Do Birkenstocks have a lifetime warranty?

Birkenstocks do not typically come with a lifetime warranty. Their warranty policies can vary depending on the retailer or country, but in general, they offer warranties that cover manufacturing defects for a limited period, usually within the first year after purchase.

However, the lifespan of Birkenstocks can be quite long with proper care and maintenance, even without a lifetime warranty, making them a durable and reliable footwear choice.

Is it OK to wear Birkenstocks every day?

Wearing Birkenstocks every day can be okay for most people as they’re designed for comfort and support. However, it’s essential to pay attention to your feet.

If they start to feel uncomfortable or hurt, it’s a sign that you might need to give them a break or consider different shoes for a while.

Rotating your footwear and not wearing the same shoes every day can be a good idea to keep your feet happy.

Why is Birkenstock so expensive?

Birkenstocks can be expensive because they use high-quality materials, are handcrafted in Germany where labor costs are higher, and are known for their comfortable and supportive design, which makes them a popular choice despite the higher price.

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