Twelve-year-old EcoErek recycles 3,600 pairs of shoes with USAgain

EcoErek visits USAgain at West Chicago office on Monday, November 12, 2012

Erek “EcoErek” Hansen has been collecting shoes and denim for reuse and recycling since 2009.

A seventh-grader from Curtice, Ohio, Erek Hansen is bringing thousands of pairs of shoes to USAgain’s West Chicago on Monday, November 12, in a partnered effort to keep the nearly 300 million pairs of unwanted shoes thrown out each year out of our nation’s landfills.

Known as “EcoErek,” Hansen has been organizing collection drives throughout the Midwest since 2009, collecting over 3,600 pairs of shoes since Spring 2012 alone. EcoErek began donating jeans to Cotton From Blue to Green, an organization that collects denim and recycles it into housing insulation, which is donated to communities in need after a natural disaster.

“Recycling is so important to protecting our planet,” said Hansen. “Unfortunately, too many shoes and other clothing are thrown into the trash. A lot of people recycle paper and bottles, but many don’t always realize that clothes and shoes can be recycled too. There’s no reason to throw your old stuff in the trash where it ends up in a landfill.”

This is the second year that USAgain and Hansen have worked together to divert shoes from landfills. In 2011, Erek collected  3,000 pairs of shoes. In return, USAgain made a donation on Erek’s behalf to Project Kaisei, a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing awareness and fostering clean-up efforts of marine debris.

Listen in on Monday as EcoErek and USAgain speak with WGN 720 radio’s Jonathon Brandmeier.


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