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Reuters Uses AirTags to Track Donated Shoes Destined for Recycling

Reuters writes:

U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they were transforming old sneakers into playgrounds and running tracks. Reuters put that promise to the test by planting hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated shoes. Most got exported instead.

I’ve always wondered what really happens to the old running shoes I toss into the donation box at my local running store, and now I know how to find out—embed an AirTag in them! I would also include an explanatory note to encourage contact in case it was found instead of being shredded for recycling. It might be an amusing way to meet a runner in another part of the world.

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Comments About Reuters Uses AirTags to Track Donated Shoes Destined for Recycling

Notable Replies

  1. I watch Reuters News at least every morning using their AppleTV app.

    The article that they presented was very well done.


  2. Okay, color me baffled. Why am I supposed to be angry that these shoes were sent to somewhere where they would apparently have values as shoes, rather than being recycled? This is surely a more effective and less wasteful use of these shoes than grinding them into dust. If I recall correctly, “reuse” comes before “recycle” in the old ditty?

  3. I suppose most likely because the intention of the donation was to convert the shoes into long-term materials used by runners and walkers or people who play on playgrounds, but now they are likely to be just discarded into a landfill or burning pit - just in another location.

    I know when I am done with a pair of running shoes there isn’t much more life for anyone who would receive them as a donation.

  4. There is a discussion of this in a section of the Reuters article labeled ‘Banned Trade’:

    In 2015, Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade introduced the Prohibition of the Import of Used Clothing regulation. The measure banned the import of used clothes and footwear over concerns about hygiene and the potential of these items to spread disease, as well as the need to protect the local textile industry…

  5. Forgive my cynicism, but my guess is that the third of these is rather more significant than the first two.

  6. Which is a good thing, as sending clothes for reuse in other countries has the negative effect of driving local companies out of business.

  7. Well, I wouldn’t know about being angry, but I can see how people would object to an entity promising to do A with donations but then secretly doing B. Seems quite shady to me. Maybe a tad better than outright stealing from a donations box.

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