NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Don’t ditch those ratty, stinky sneakers in the closet.

The Environmental Office in Rota wants them.

The office will hold its first-ever athletic shoe drive starting Oct. 13. They hope to collect as many 200 pairs of old cross trainers, tennis shoes and high-tops and send them to Nike for recycling.

The athletic apparel giant’s Reuse-A-Shoe program grinds the shoes and uses the material to make sports surfaces such as artificial turf, basketball courts and running tracks. They will accept any brand of shoe, including those tattered Chuck Taylor All Stars.

Camille Naaktgeboren, the office’s environmental protection assistant, said recycling the shoes helps out communities and is good for the environment. Athletic shoes are not biodegradable.

“You put a shoe in a landfill and it’s going to last, whereas if you do something like this you’re saving landfill space,” she said.

Last year, Nike teamed up with the National Recycling Coalition — a non-profit environmental organization — to boost participation in the United States. Nike has similar shoe recycling programs in the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.

The Reuse-A-Shoe program started in 1993. Since its inception, the corporation has donated 170 sports surfaces to communities around the world, according to the company’s Web site. More than 16 million pairs have been recycled so far.

The Environmental Office in Rota will have drop-off points for shoes at the base’s Fitness Center, Video Mart, Housing Quick Stop and the elementary school playground.

The drive ends Oct. 27.

Those interested in more information on the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program or in starting a collection should see the Web site

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