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Does REI Have a Recycling Program? A Complete Guide

When it comes to outdoor gear, there is a growing concern about the environmental impact of disposing of old equipment. 

As more and more people embrace an active lifestyle and invest in outdoor gear, the need for sustainable solutions to gear waste becomes increasingly apparent. 

One question that frequently arises is does REI have a recycling program? 

In this article, we will explore the answer to that question and provide a comprehensive guide on how to recycle your old outdoor gear.

A Growing Concern About Gear Waste

Before we delve into the specifics of REI’s recycling program, it’s important to understand the magnitude of the gear waste problem. 

As outdoor enthusiasts, we often find ourselves cycling through gear for various reasons, such as wear and tear, technological advancements, or simply wanting to upgrade. 

The result is a staggering amount of waste generated by discarded gear. In fact, according to a study conducted by Waste Advantage Magazine, over one million tons of textiles from outdoor gear end up in landfills each year. 

This is where recycling programs, like the one offered by REI, can make a significant impact.

Does REI Have a Recycling Program? Everything You Should Know

Does REI have a recycling program? Types of Gear REI Accepts

REI has implemented a commendable recycling program that accepts a wide range of outdoor gear items. 

From footwear to electronics, they strive to help outdoor enthusiasts responsibly dispose of their old equipment. Here are some types of gear that REI accepts for recycling:

Footwear Recycling

REI understands that many outdoor enthusiasts go through athletic shoes or boots quicker than other gear items. 

That’s why they have partnered with a global recycling company to process and recycle used footwear. 

This program accepts any brand of athletic shoes or boots, ensuring that these items are diverted from landfills and given a new life. 

By recycling footwear, valuable materials are extracted and repurposed, reducing the environmental impact associated with manufacturing new shoes.

Clothing Recycling

When it comes to outdoor clothing, REI recognizes the importance of minimizing waste. 

They collaborate with textile recycling programs to accept used clothing items. From jackets to pants, you can recycle your old outdoor clothing through REI’s program. 

By participating in clothing recycling, you ensure that these items don’t end up in landfills, where they can take up valuable space for years to come. 

Instead, recycled clothing can be transformed into new products or used as raw material for other industries, reducing the need for virgin resources.

Electronics Recycling

The outdoor industry heavily relies on electronic devices to enhance our outdoor experiences. 

However, it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact of disposing of these devices, as they often contain harmful materials. 

REI acknowledges this and offers an electronics recycling program. They accept various electronic devices, such as headlamps, GPS devices, and activity trackers. 

By recycling electronics, REI ensures that potentially hazardous materials, like batteries or circuit boards, are properly disposed of or recycled, preventing them from contaminating the environment.

Battery Recycling

Outdoor gear often relies on batteries to power various electronic components. Unfortunately, improper disposal of batteries can lead to hazardous materials seeping into the soil and water systems. 

REI is proactive in tackling this problem by providing convenient drop-off locations for customers to recycle their used batteries. 

By properly recycling batteries, REI prevents harmful materials from entering the waste stream and encourages responsible battery consumption practices from outdoor enthusiasts.

How to Recycle with REI?

Recycling your old outdoor gear with REI is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you recycle different types of gear:

Footwear Recycling

To recycle your old athletic shoes or boots through REI, follow these simple steps:

  • Clean your shoes thoroughly to remove any debris or dirt.
  • Bring your clean shoes to an REI store in your area.
  • Look for the designated footwear recycling bin within the store.
  • Place your shoes in the bin, and feel good knowing that they are on their way to being properly recycled and repurposed.

Clothing Recycling

Clothing Recycling

Recycling your used outdoor clothing through REI is also a breeze. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure to wash and dry your clothing items thoroughly before recycling them.
  • Check all the pockets and remove any personal items.
  • Bring the clean clothing to a participating REI store.
  • Deposit the clothing into the designated clothing recycling bin provided.

Electronics and Battery Recycling

Recycling electronic devices and batteries requires a slightly different approach. Here’s how to properly recycle your old electronics and batteries through REI:

  • Locate your nearest REI store that accepts electronic recycling. You can find this information on the company’s website or by contacting their customer service.
  • Before recycling, ensure that your electronic devices and batteries are fully charged. This helps the recycling facilities handle the devices more safely.
  • Visit the designated recycling drop-off area within the store.
  • Follow the instructions provided to properly dispose of your electronic devices and batteries. In some cases, you may need to fill out a form or hand your items over to an REI team member.

Other Ways to Recycle Outdoor Gear

While REI’s recycling program is a fantastic option, it’s worth noting that there are other ways to recycle your old outdoor gear as well. 

Many outdoor gear manufacturers have implemented their own recycling programs or offer take-back initiatives. 

These programs enable you to send your gear directly to the manufacturer for proper recycling. 

Some manufacturers may even offer incentives, such as discounts on new gear, as a way to encourage recycling. 

Additionally, local thrift stores, consignment shops, or outdoor gear swaps can be great options for giving your gear a second life.

Pro Tips for Recycling Outdoor Gear with REI

To get the most out of recycling your outdoor gear with REI, consider these pro tips:

Inspect and Clean: Before recycling your gear, take the time to inspect and clean it properly. Remove any dirt, debris, or personal items before recycling. 

While REI does not expect gear to be in pristine condition, a clean item makes the recycling process more efficient.

Donate in Good Condition: If your outdoor gear is still in good condition and can be used by others, consider donating it to local organizations or charities that accept used gear. 

This allows others to enjoy the gear while minimizing waste. Many organizations support outdoor programs for underserved communities or offer outdoor education opportunities for youth.

Stay Informed: Keep an eye out for updates and potential changes to REI’s recycling program. 

As the program evolves and new recycling initiatives are implemented, it’s essential to stay informed. Check REI’s website, sign up for newsletters, or follow their social media channels to stay up to date.

Educate Others: Share the importance of gear recycling with your friends, family, and the wider outdoor community. 

Encourage them to responsibly dispose of their old gear and consider recycling options like REI’s program. By spreading the word, you can help create a more sustainable outdoor culture.


REI’s recycling program provides outdoor enthusiasts with a convenient and responsible way to dispose of their old gear. 

By accepting a range of gear items, from footwear to electronics, they offer outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to minimize their environmental impact.