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Iowa State Band Uniforms Recycled as Tote Bags

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AMES, Iowa (AP) Once stored away in boxes with no sign of daylight, Iowa State University's old marching band uniforms are seeing new life this semester.

After being retired in 2010 when ISU changed its official logo, nearly 1,000 polyester wool-blend uniforms are now being reincarnated as tote bags and laptop cases.

"When they changed the logo and the color changed a little bit, it's like, we've got to get new uniforms," said Michael Golemo, ISU marching band director. "But what do we do with the old ones?"

Sending the uniforms to a landfill was really the only option, Golemo said. That's until ISU was contacted by a California-based company that repurposes old material into bags.

The company, The Inconvenient Bag, has begun designing and selling customized eco-friendly bags to schools across the country, Golemo said.

ISU put in an order for 500 one-of-a-kind bags this semester, and is expecting another 500 by early next year after the first batch sold like hotcakes to ISU alumni and students, he said.

"If we do have leftovers, we could sell these at the bookstore or something, but that's not the plan right now," Golemo said. "We're keeping it in-house for the marching band and the alums."

The bags and laptop cases sell for $45, with profits going to the marching band. And aside from a small piece of Velcro that functions as a closure, every bag is made entirely from uniform materials.

Suspenders now serve as straps, and overlays work as the front panels of the bags.

"We're happy that these are being repurposed, and we just have enough to make the alumni happy," Golemo said. "It's a limited item."