The College of Human Ecology’s Green Ambassadors, in partnership with Cornell Thrift, is hosting a shoe and sock collection drive through April 27 to benefit both community members and low-income individuals abroad who are in need of proper footwear.
“We were sitting in a meeting a year and a half ago … and we were wondering what more could we do to recycle [in addition to] recycling just papers and glasses and compost,” said collection drive organizer James D. Rounds, who is the laboratory manager of the HD EEG & Psychophysiology Laboratory.
After consulting some experts at the Tompkins County Recycling and Materials Management, Rounds decided on the idea of a shoe and sock drive.
Socks and shoes are the most requested items in homeless shelters nationwide, according to recyclenation.com.
Rounds, a member of the Green Ambassadors, defines the organization as “a collection of students, staff, faculty interested in voluntarily helping to make part of Cornell and the greater community beyond Cornell a little bit more sustainable.”
This year marks the second collection drive for the program. During last year’s drive, two large bins weighing at least 700 pounds of socks and shoes were collected, according to Rounds.
Rounds said he was surprised to see how smoothly the event went last year and attributed the success to the Green Ambassadors’ mixed membership of students, staff and faculty members.
“Part of what makes the Green Ambassadors special is how much the facilities staff are involved,” Rounds said. “Being in such an environment enables the sharing of different perspectives on community spaces … and highlights what’s similar across people in different spots in their lives.”
Same as last year, the socks and shoes collected will go towards the St. Pauly Textile Inc., a collection agency based in Rochester, New York.
Once there, the company will sort through the collection, recycling non-useful fabric scraps and providing socks and shoes in usable conditions at low costs to people across the world, according to Rounds.
Because of the involvement of students from Cornell Thrift this year, Rounds said he believed the drive will create even greater local impact.
Cornell Thrift is a student organization with a mission “to reduce campus‐wide waste through redistribution of reusable personal items,” according to the group’s website. This year, it will help expand the scope of the event by setting up outlets for redistributing personal items, according to Karen Ceballos ’18, Cornell Thrift’s co-director of programming.
Ceballos said that shoes and socks in good condition will be available in Ezra’s Exchange, Cornell Thrift’s free closet in Willard Straight Hall, and footwear will be available at “Free Table Fridays,” which occur every other Friday at a table in Willard Straight Hall or Ho Plaza. The next tabling event is scheduled for April 20.
This year, the goal is “to collect at least as many shoes as last year, and … to spread awareness of how things can be recycled,” according to Rounds. He also encouraged people to continue recycling even after the drive has ended by regularly bringing textiles to the Tompkins Recycling Center.
Students can donate used or unwanted clean, dry and mostly odorless shoes and socks to the collection bin in the College of Human Ecology Commons between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day until April 27, according to the drive’s event page.