5 Tips for Sustainable Shoes and Repurposing Dancewear

5 tips for sustainable shoes and repurposing dancewear

More than ever, it’s important for everyone to do their part in making our world more sustainable and greener. Reducing waste, recycling, and repurposing items is the simplest way we can all make a positive impact on the planet. As we begin 2022, we thought it a perfect moment to list out some of the clever ways dancers can make sustainable choices with their shoes and dancewear – from reusing ribbon, and upcycling old legwarmers to supporting businesses dedicated to reducing waste – here are our top five tips…

5 tips for sustainable shoes and repurposing dancewear - pointe shoes

1. Reuse your pointe shoe ribbons and elastic

All pointe shoes die eventually, but just because your box has broken down and your shank is shot, doesn’t mean your ribbons and elastic don’t have longer to live. Many of our SAB students reuse their pointe shoe ribbons and elastics multiple times for the pointe shoes they wear in class. Simply cut the stitches off your old shoes and voila – you have perfectly sized ribbons and elastic to sew on your new pair of shoes. To ensure the satin ribbon doesn’t fray as you keep reusing, you can always burn the edges (carefully) before you sew them on. And of course, you should always use clean ribbon and elastics for performances.

5 tips for sustainable shoes and repurposing dancewear - tights sachet

2. Upcycle old tights into a fragrant dance bag sachet

Tights have a run? Upcycle an old pair of tights into a fragrant sachet (or a few) to keep your dance bag or locker smelling sweet and fresh. This works especially well with mesh tights, though any will work. Simply cut your tights anywhere along the legs. Be sure to give yourself enough fabric to work with (generally six inches in length works well.) Sprinkle some dried lavender or other potpourri in the center of the fabric then pull up the edges of the fabric to cinch at the top. To secure, tie a tight knot with some twine or ribbon… you could even use a drawstring from an old pair of ballet shoes if you want to go the extra mile in recycling! Toss in your dance bag and enjoy.

5 tips for sustainable shoes and repurposing dancewear - legwarmer door draft stopper

3. Make a door draft stopper from an old legwarmer

This idea is two-fold in sustainability – not only does it repurpose an old dancewear item, but it can also help reduce energy use at home while keeping your space warm and cozy! Take an old legwarmer – preferably one that’s full-leg-length for optimal door blockage – and stitch one end closed with a sturdy yarn. If you don’t feel like sewing, simply pinch and twist one end and securely tie it closed with twine, ribbon or elastic. A worn-out hair elastic would be a perfect option! Fill the legwarmer with either old clothes, blankets, dried beans or popcorn kernels depending on what you have on hand. A mix of old clothes with beans works really well for adding fullness and weight to your stopper. Close up the other end of your legwarmer and position it under your door.

4. Donate old leotards

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning as so many young dancers can benefit from donated or handed-down dancewear. This is an especially helpful idea for students who are quickly outgrowing their clothes or have different level uniform colors as SAB does. When you’re done with a leotard that is still in good condition, wash and donate it to your local GoodWill or pass it on to a younger student at your school. You could even take this concept a step further as one of our advanced students has with her non-profit Peace Love Leotards and set up a formal dancewear donation box at your studio!

5 tips for sustainable shoes and repurposing dancewear - Petit Pas

5. Shop Petit Pas for repurposed pointe shoe accessories

Our list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of our friends at Petit Pas who have taken repurposing dead pointe shoes to another level. Petit Pas’ line of accessories is made from the leather and satin from dead pointe shoes worn by our SAB students, which get deconstructed and sanitized before they are reworked into bracelets, mini hairpin purses, and more. SAB provides Petit Pas with all their used shoes, and this stylish initiative has diverted over 400 shoes from landfills! Check out the Petit Pas shop to see the ingenious way they give old pointe shoes a whole new purpose.

And that’s just the beginning – there are plenty of ways to shop sustainably and reduce dancewear waste. Our thanks to the team at Petit Pas for helping create this list of ideas. Here’s wishing you an eco-friendly New Year!