According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, the average household throws away 68 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year. Textile waste accounts for just over five percent of all total municipal solid waste. In other words, landfills are becoming the breeding grounds for discarded clothing that could have easily been reused with a little innovation.
Unfortunately, sustainable style often has the reputation with being drab and expensive. But instead of buying eco-friendly fashions off the rack, consider making your own. Re-purposing, recycling, and upcycling unwanted clothes in your closet can transform your wardrobe into trend-setting style.
Here are a few ideas to get started upcycling your old clothes and save the environment while saving money at the same time.
When you wear them often, it can be easy to scratch your favorite pair of sunglasses. Your first instinct may be to toss the scratched pair and buy brand new ones, but not so fast. Keep those good frames and swap in a pair of replacement lenses for a look as good as new.
Use the old worn-out lenses to make jewelry or holiday ornaments.
Old T-shirts can add up and take up excess space in our drawers and storage closets. Give away the gently used shirts you no longer wear to Goodwill or other charities, and then take inventory of what’s left. Cut up the remaining old shirts and use them as cleaning cloths. I love using old clothes to dust furniture and clean with. Sew patches of your favorite branded T-shirts together to make a unique quilt. You can also use the fabric to make a stylish laptop cover, or protective pocket for your tablet or iPod.
Tear out long strips from different color T-shirts and create a fringe. Sew those strips onto an existing skirt or create a DIY version out of an old scarf or shirt. With the remaining shreds of your T-shirt scraps, twist, braid, and add buttons or wooden embellishments to the pieces to make your own bracelets.
Old Ties and Scarves
Old ties can be challenging to repurpose into something fashionable, but here’s an idea: use an old tie to replace a worn-out purse strap, or sew several tie scraps together to create a unique collar for your dog.
Repurpose scarves in a variety of ways, including a trendy headband, a no-sew apron, a fashionable camera strap, a watch wrap, or even as bows to add some spunk to a tired-looking pair of flats. Take advantage of the light fabric that is usually in vibrant colors and eye-popping patterns. There’s bound to be a great way to create something unexpected and amazing!
Jeans are among the most common wardrobe staples because of their versatility and durability. Most people try to fashion them into cut-off shorts when their jeans finally give out, but there are many more ways to make use out of that great fabric. Upcycle your denim into a smartphone case or trim it into a set of unique cocktail napkins. Use a stamped design to bleach out a pattern on the napkins and stitch on some trim by machine or hand. Other ways to upcycle your jeans include transforming them into a wine tote or inspired picnic bag, a set of quilted placemats, or even a set of coasters.
Our landfills are being over loaded with some many items that we could be recycling and repurposed. The next time you are cleaning your closet take a minute to think green and how you might be able to recycle some of those old clothes into useful items. Use some of the ideas above or be creative and come up with some of your own unique ideas. If you have any creative ways you have reused clothes please let us know in the comments. Help us clean up the clutter together and keep our planet clean!