Waste > Sports Gear Donation

Sports gear donation is a great way to engage students across your campus and members of your community in your sports greening initiatives. Developing a program to donate sports gear helps connect the love of sports (by donating sports gear for others to enjoy) with the idea of saving resources (by reusing materials and avoiding).

Sports gear donation drives can collect sports equipment (such as hockey sticks, baseball gloves and basketballs), clothing and shoes. Ask the athletic equipment manager(s) to contribute any unused or outdated team gear.  Some schools have also established ongoing shoe collection programs. There are several programs—such as Reuse-a-Shoe and Shoebox Recycling—that can provide collection bins for used shoes to install in sports facilities.

These donation events are often relatively easy to implement, particularly when led by students, and can help build interest in broader infrastructure and operational greening. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for student leadership in sports greening on your campus. Work with facility managers and other athletics or recreation staff to launch or expand your varsity or club team’s greening work and incorporate more students into your greening initiative.

A sports gear donation drive is one example of a wide variety of environmentally-related community events that your sports department could consider organizing. These events can be a great way to educate and engage with the public on environmental protection. Visit the Community Events section for more ideas.


Student involvement in environmental initiatives can reduce demands on staff time and departmental resources. Student involvement can also help attract support from facilities, athletics, recreation, campus administration, and other departments. The following idea is one example of a task for students to conduct in your sports facilities. This preliminary student project could help facilitate interest in establishing sports gear donation programs across all sports facilities. Consider encouraging interested students to do the following:

Sports Gear Recycling Drive or Donation Program:

Start a recycling drive encouraging students to donate, exchange, or sell used sports gear. Consider arranging campus-wide sports gear donation events (including clothes, shoes, and equipment) to benefit local schools or places of need. Consider hosting a collection drive in the tailgating area during football games or at the entrance to other venues and encourage students and fans to drop off used items on their way into games.

Visit the relevant page in this guide for more ideas for Student-Led Project Ideas.


Sports gear donation and waste reduction at your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Waste” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 8 points for the credits “OP 22: Waste Minimization” and “OP 23: Waste Diversion.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.     


>> Bowdoin Green Athletes at Bowdoin College established an athletic shoe recycling project by placing collection bins from the charitable organization “Rerun Shoes” throughout their athletics facilities. The organization supports micro-entrepreneurs in Liberia, Guinea, and Mali, among other locations in West Africa. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> In January 2012, student-athletes at Columbia Universityformed a Columbia Athletics environmental organization called “EcoLions.” The students launched a shoe reuse program with Shoebox Recycling and have donated more than 200 pairs of shoes for reuse to date. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> The sustainability initiatives for the 2013 NCAA Final Four® in Atlanta included a clothing donation drive as well as recycling infrastructure at all event venues, a community electronics recycling event at the Georgia Dome, repurposing all Final Four banners to create event memorabilia, obtaining paper and plastic materials made with post-consumer recycled content, and reusing or recycling the Final Four® basketball courts. Learn more by reading the NCAA feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.


>> In 2012, the National Hockey League’s NHL Green program partnered with nonprofit Restore Hockey to establish the “Recycle the Game” program, which focuses on collecting used equipment and holding ongoing sports gear donation drives at NHL venues. The program was launched at the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® Spectator Plaza in Philadelphia.

Restore Hockey volunteers collected and refurbished all donated equipment, which was delivered locally to the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, a non-profit organization for youth founded by Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. Each day, the first 50 fans to donate a piece of equipment received a Restore Hockey skate lace bracelet.  All donors were also entered to win signed NHL memorabilia.  Nearly 300 items were collected, refurbished and redistributed.

“Our ultimate goal is to keep equipment out of basements and out of landfills,” said Scott Crowder, Executive Director of Restore Hockey. “All gear collected in Philadelphia will be returned back to the ice, right where it belongs.”

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.



AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)

AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual

WasteWise – How to Start or Expand a Recycling Program

NHL Green Recycle The Game Initiative

Minnesota Guide to Source Reduction