Options for upcycling clothes

As summer eases into fall, I’m thinking about clothes. Soon I’ll haul my cold-weather wardrobe from its storage spot, and put my shorts and T-shirts in its place. The kids, ever growing, will need some new items for school. Larger sneakers will replace old; hats and gloves will join their smaller counterparts in the mudroom. Several times during the changeover, I’ll hold something up and wonder, “Why do I still have this?” When no satisfactory answer returns, I’ll fold it up and put it away until next year.

We’ve written before about what to do with old, unwanted clothes. Of course you can also donate clothes, hand them down, gift them to young parents, turn them into household rags, or even make interesting keepsakes. In the case of sentimental tshirt, my wife made a quilt from them. Recently, I found another alternative that I wanted to share: upcycling.

An article at CBC appeared in my RSS feed at the perfect time. It begins by pointing out a problem: wasted clothes. While many people donate unwanted clothes in a way that extends their life, “…North Americans [still] discard a mind-boggling amount of apparel — 12 billion kilograms of textiles every year.” That’s a staggering 26 billion pounds!

I think that’s more than a little disheartening, as do twins Lindsay and Alexandra Lorusso. The pair started their own company, Nudnik, which uses scraps of discarded clothing and other textiles, and turns them into re-sellable outfits for kids. It’s a great idea.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Natalie Festa has begun renting outfits and other articles to customers who are either eco-conscious or on a budget, a scenario that should be familiar to fans of NBC’s Parks and Rec.

Of course, you needn’t start a business to upcycle old clothing. Basic sewing skills will let you create new items from scraps. A tshirt can become a little laundry bag when you sew the bottom shut. A shirt can also become a headband if you’re so inclined.

When it comes to old clothes, definitely consider the donate/hand-me-down route. But don’t overlook the various upcycle options available. There’s a lot that can be done.

8 Comments for “Options for upcycling clothes”

  1. posted by dragon ball super on

    Thanks for your post

  2. posted by Jazz Kat on

    Columbia Sportswear ReThread Program is another option. Visit any Columbia store to drop off your old clothing and shoes through its free ReThreads reuse and recycling program. http://www.columbia.com/About-.....reads.html

  3. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Sweatbands from worn washcloths/towels and a little elastic. Computer or tablet cases from jeans and trim from other clothing. Draft stoppers from almost anything and stuffed with old socks and t-shirt scraps. My t-shirts wear out in front but still have good backs so the backs become hand towels. Houseshoe soles from old leather purses.

    I don’t make scrap quilts but they (or old quilt tops) are my favorite form of upcycling.

  4. posted by Kristen on

    The Nudnik link doesn’t work.

  5. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    Thank you for pointing this out. We’ve fixed the link.

  6. posted by Teq on

    I like to make potholders and rugs out of old cotton t-shirts.

  7. posted by Caroline on

    H&M will take old worn out clothes.

  8. posted by Frank on

    Thanks for sharing the post

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