Can ballet shoes be recycled? (9 must Know FACTS!)

Shoes all over the world are helping in safeguarding and making our environment eco-friendly as a result of their ability to be recycled instead of thrown them away as was the case in no distant past. 

The question on the mind of many people is whether ballet shoes can be recycled like other shoes such as Mary Jane or not. 

The question of their eco-friendliness is a major area of concern for both ballet dancers and spectators alike due to the sheer number of ballet shoes that are rendered useless every single day.

This article will examine whether or not a ballet shoe can be recycled and what process needs to be followed.

Can ballet shoes be recycled? 

Ballet shoes cannot be recycled like other shoes due to some factors which make it extremely difficult such as the cheap materials used in producing the shoes, sweat trapping, inbreathability, slacking and disintegration of the cardboard papers, satins and other materials that constitute the shoes as well as the need to safeguard the feet of ballet dancers. 

Although we can’t rule out the recyclable capacity of ballet shoes, the process of doing so, the time it takes and the resources make the effort completely useless because it can only be run at a loss.

This means that for every ballet shoe that can be recycled, the cost of producing it is higher than the actual cost of purchasing a brand-new one.

Moreover, ballet shoes that are mass-produced by machines are highly disliked by ballet dancers.

This is because special attention and care needs to be put into it and the major markets are producing handmade that are more accurate, comfortable and popular.

It is good to also understand that new ballet shoes usually also undergo some repairs and modifications from the ballerinas that are going to use them and each modify it according to their individual needs.

As a result of this, borrowing ballet shoes is not possible because of the differences in shapes and contours of each ballerina.

Why can’t ballet shoes be recycled?

The major reasons why ballet shoes cannot be recycled are as follows:

  • Destroyed immediately. 
  • Handmade is preferred.
  • Insoles disintegrated. 
  • Deliberate break-in by ballets. 
  • Cheap materials. 
  • Satin doesn’t last long. 
  • Cardboard disintegrated. 
  • Not breathable. 
  • Trap sweat. 

Destroyed immediately.

Ballet shows have a short lifecycle. Some don’t last for up to a day depending on the expertise level of the ballet dancer using them and the manufacturer that produces the shoe. 

A professional ballet can use up to 5 or more ballet shoes in a week which makes the process of gathering and recycling them highly unlikely and economically not profitable.

Most of the shoes that are recycled have a higher lifecycle than a ballet shoe which can be destroyed within a day of using a brand new one.

To make it more interesting, the ballet will first destroy the shoe from its original before using it.

Handmade is preferred.

The production of recycled shoes is always carried out by manufacturers with the capacity and machinery to do so effortlessly.

However, for a ballet shoe, that is impossible because ballerinas prefer shoes that are handmade rather than one that are mass produced by engines instead of humans which takes little consideration to the peculiarity and quality and rely more on producing actual units in a day.

Insoles disintegrated.

The insoles of ballet shoes is the first one to become disintegrate either as a result of using them by the ballerina or through the deliberate effort of the ballerina to make it more comfortable and give the flexibility to perform optimally.

Most insoles are made from materials that don’t last and respond well to pressure such as cardboard papers that can be destroyed by both usage and sweat from a ballets leg.

Deliberate break-in by ballets.

Another reason why ballet shoes cannot be recycled is the activities of ballet dancers themselves.

If you give a ballet dancer a brand new pair of ballet shoes, she will first break it in before she or he starts using it for practice or actual performance.

According to them, breaking it gives you the ability to use the shoe flexibly without much trouble.

Some of the break-in Involves using scissors to cut off some potion particularly the insoles, applying glues, hitting it hard on a pavement or a wall as well and crushing the upper part with arms or elbows to make it softer.

This process makes it difficult for the shoes to be recycled afterwards.

Cheap materials.

Cheap materials are the major components in making ballet shoes worldwide.

Meanwhile, those materials have the tendency of lasting only a few days and it is usually impossible to try and recycle them for other purposes.

Since the manufacturers know that buying the materials for making it is cheap, no effort was made to recycle them at all.

Satin doesn’t last long.

Satin as a material for shoe don’t last long, especially the satins that are used in making ballet shoes.

As a result of satin lasting less than other materials for shoes such as leather, suede and vegans, it is difficult for it to be recycled.

Cardboard disintegrated.

Cardboards are just a combination of cartons made from leaves and synthetic chemicals which can be destroyed when water is poured on them or when your feet deposit excess sweat on the ballet shoes.

This will cause the shoe to disintegrate faster than any other shoe out there.

Not breathable.

Another factor aiding the inability to recycle ballet shoes is their inability to breathe air into the shoe when one is performing or training with the shoes.

This will cause your legs to be uncomfortable which can affect your overall performance during events and organs.

Trapping sweat

Another factor rendering the ability to recycle ballet shoes difficult is due to the fact that the shoe can trap your excess sweat that comes out from your feet during training or actual performance which will in turn make the shoe start smelling that will also affect your feet after you remove them.


Ballet shoes can be recycled not unlike other shoes, but the problem is it is extremely difficult to do so and economically unwise because the cost of recycling is higher than the actual cost of a brand-new handmade one.




Scroll to Top