Sustainable Fashion

5 Ways to Recycle Denim

Ever wondered what to do with old jeans? Instead of tossing them, try upcycling! Check out these 5 creative ideas.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), denim takes up 5 percent of all landfill space. This is especially alarming considering every pair of jeans takes 1,800 gallons of water to make.  

Instead of creating more waste when you are done with your denim, try upcycling it! Here are 5 ways you can recycle your denim instead of sending it to the landfill. 

1. Make New Clothes 

The easiest way to upcycle an old piece of denim you don’t like is to make it into something you would wear. If your jeans are worn out, or you are simply looking for something new, try cutting them! Making a quick pair of jean shorts is the easiest way to go about upcycling jeans. Plus, this idea works great if you want to wear a single pair of jeans through the seasons.  

2. Make a Bag or Purse 

You can make a variety of different bags with a pair of jeans. Some ideas include making a tote bag, a grocery bag, or even a purse. Ideas like these may sound intimidating at first, but there are many online tutorials that provide step-by-step instructions to help you through the process! This video by YouTuber Ire Heart Crafting shows how to make a cross-body bag in just a few steps. You can even make a phone-charging bag as shown here. 

3. Donate to Rag & Bone 

Unlike other clothing brands, Rag & Bone accepts any brand or type of jeans as donations. Not only are you contributing to the circular economy by donating, but you can get 25 percent off your denim purchase at Rag & Bone when you donate! After donating, Rag & Bone will take your denim and repurpose it as thermal insulation or even as pet bed inserts! 

4. Donate to Madewell 

Similar to Rag & Bone, Madewell will take any pair of jeans as a donation and turn them into housing insulation! In exchange you get 20 dollars off a pair of Madewell jeans, and you minimize your waste. Since Madewell started their Denim recycling program, they have recycled over one million pairs of jeans and counting. And thanks to their partnership with Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green, 80 percent of the insulation installed by Blue Jeans Go Green has been from Madewell recycled denim. 

5. Try Slow Art 

Slow art provides an artistic and sustainable way to transform old denim. In the case of jeans, the slow art of making denim quilts has been around since before people wore jeans! In Alabama, Black women have been utilizing denim quilting since the 19th century. The best part is total creative freedom. With the ability to paint, shape, and patch as you wish, making a denim quilt is the perfect passion project. For inspiration, check out Pinterest examples before getting started.  

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