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For America Recycles Day, we wanted to put together a post to show how to recycle, reuse or repurpose your old T-shirts.
The textile industry ranks in roughly 13 millions TONS of clothing a year in the landfill. Although it may not be the biggest portion of our landfills, it's one of the major items in a landfill that is not recycled and will never be recycled. Since we care deeply about the planet, we want to minimize the amount of clothing sent to landfills, and focus on alternative ways to discard your clothing.
We always recommend taking care of your items so they last you a while. If something brakes or rips, try to fix it. If you can't fix it, try to repurpose it. There comes a point in time when the garment is just not serving you like it did in the past, and that's OK. Don't feel like you aren't being an eco-conscious citizen if it just isn't working out for you anymore & you want to get rid of it.
Below is our guide you (& everyone) should take when thinking about getting rid of clothing (or anything, for that matter)!
We believe this is a fantastic option for a quick & painless way to get rid of clothing that is still wearable. This goes for a lot of materialistic items we have sitting around our homes; if you are not using it anymore, there is someone out there who will. Think about Macklemore's song: "One man's trash is another man's treasure". Use apps like Poshmark & Depop to sell your nicer clothes, and apps like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace for other items.
If you don't think you can get much for your items, we believe the easiest thing you can do is start a box or pile of items that you don't want anymore that can benefit someone else. Thrift stores, donation bins & even local schools might accept your old clothing, prom dresses & soccer cleats from Jr. High School, etc. The last thing you should do is toss the item in the trash.
If the item you have is broken and can not be repaired (or you just don't care to, which is OK) - your next step is to repurpose it. There are TONS of options for repurposing, you just need to figure out which one suits you best. Don't repurpose it into something you also wouldn't use. The point here is to turn it into someone you want to use often again. Kitchen rags are always a really easy way to reuse shirts, although we want to know you that you can get a little more creative than that. Below are a few ways you can repurpose an old T-shirt:
There are so many blogs and videos out there that teach you how to turn an old T-shirt into reliable tote bags. No sewing required & it only takes ten minutes! I think having tons of tote bags laying around is a nice & easy trick to avoid single-use bags. These tutorials require you to cut off the sleeves, which you can then use as rags for cleaning! Check out this tutorial for step by step instructions. You can also make it into a produce bag as well!
In the past, this is what I've always done with my old shirts. It's such an easy way to repurpose an old tee and they're always my go-to when working out. I never like to spend a lot of money on workout clothes, because this is just as easy! Check out this blog post if you like a more "racerback" look. This is an easy tutorial, although I personally always went for the "muscle" tank look with low sleeve holes, here. This you can even do if your tee or tank is stained, because it's only going to get dirtier!
That's right - a RUG! This DIY project is another no-sew (personal fave of mine) although it does take a bit more time. In this video tutorial, she uses two t-shirts to create a mini rug, although you can make larger rugs with this too! Not sure if you know already, but rugs are pretty dang expensive & old t-shirts are a really economical way to create rugs for your living space. Plus, they'd probably be really soft! So innovative!
This super easy tutorial takes two tees & makes a dog toy by braiding strips of shirt and tying the ends. This tutorial takes less than five minutes & is a great way to surprise your fur baby with a homemade gift!
Turn It Into A Hanging Plant Holder
This is one of my favorite tutorials because this hanging plant holder looks better than some of the ones you see in the stores! This is another great, no-sew tutorial that is a really trendy way to repurpose a shirt. Check out the blog post here.
If you have a baby in your life, or have a pregnant friend, this DIY baby hat is a really cute way to upcycle some old t-shirts and keep your child warm! I think this could also go for a washable baby diaper as well, although it takes a lot more effort.
There are some things that really can't be reused like socks, underwear, etc. Search your local area for "Textile Recycling" drop off locations. Every city is different although there are tons of companies out there. Hopefully something is close & accessible to your area.
Hopefully this blog helps you consider the end life of everything in your life, not just your clothing. Comment below with some of your top tricks for your products end life!