Diverting Waste – One Step at a Time

Connector Summer 2016

Cassandra Tomas is a proud resident of Strathcona County who values the environment. She has a passion for running and runs a lot! So much that she wears through many pairs of shoes a year. Shoes are a difficult item to recycle but she didn’t want to send them to a landfill. So she found a way to have them reused.

Soles4Souls shoe bin at MPIn January 2015, Cassandra set up the Soles4Souls Alberta Chapter. With the help of some great partnerships like Strathcona County, Meadows Construction and Rotary Clubs of Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and St. Albert, she has collected nearly 10,000 pairs of shoes.

Who is Soles4Souls?

Soles4Souls is a not-for-profit global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. Donated shoes are sorted and distributed around the world to be reused and refurbished in micro enterprises creating sustainable jobs in developing countries. All of this contributes to fighting poverty and reducing waste.

Soles4Souls race brochureStepping up

On top of the seven collection sites in Edmonton and surrounding area that Cassandra set up, she also helped organize shoe drives with schools and businesses all over Alberta. These shoe drives would collect between 150 to 900 pairs of shoes at each event!

To allow for easy disposal, Cassandra partnered with Strathcona County to have a drop-off bin at two main recreation complexes, Millennium Place and Ardrossan Recreation Complex. Millennium Place also has the retail store, The Running Room, located inside making it an ideal location to drop-off old shoes when purchasing new ones. Since collection at this location began in March 2015 an estimated 1,300 pairs of shoes have been collected here.

In July 2016, Souls4Soles was able to combine the 10,000 pairs of shoes Cassandra had collected with two other loads in British Columbia and take them back to Ontario for processing.

The journey continues

The program has become so successful it is too much for one person to handle. Cassandra has partnered with Strathcona County to keep the shoe collection at Millennium Place and Ardrossan Recreation Complex going. The sea can used to store the shoes has been moved to a permanent location at Strathcona County’s new Broadview Enviroservice Station. Residents can bring shoes to the station when they are dropping off their recycling or household hazardous waste. Strathcona County plans on helping schools and other businesses with shoe drives in 2017.Soles4Souls Cassandra with Colliers Int

Stettler and Red Deer have also continued with their shoe collections and will bring the shoes they collect to be stored at the Enviroservice Station.

An inspiration

Cassandra’s passion and dedication to this project stems from her love of running. It is a great example of how one person can turn something they are passionate about into something that can change the world for the better.

Submitted by Erin Wildeboer