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Here’s How You Can Upcycle Your Clothes and Reduce Waste

August 25, 2020

This guest blog is provided by Isabella Lovett.

Every year in America, more than 15 million tons of textile waste is made — a figure that has doubled since the year 2000. As consumers we are buying more clothing than ever and often treating garments as something disposable. Of the 15 million tons of waste, only 2.6 million is actually recycled, 3.1 million is combusted to create energy, but the rest of it is simply put into landfill. The clothing manufacturing industry is polluting the atmosphere and our desire for new fashion is polluting the land that we live on. This is never going to be sustainable in the long term. The only solution is to cut down the demand for new clothing, and everyone can do this at a grassroots level by upcycling clothes instead of buying more. 

Repurposing simple garments

The t-shirt is one of the most purchased garments in America. They are a wardrobe staple for all year round. But when that t-shirt no longer fits, or is not in fashion anymore, don’t throw it in the trash. T-shirts can be easily repurposed into tote bags for soft grocery items like fruit without the need for a sewing machine. Strips of the fabric can be used to make some fun wristbands, bracelets and necklaces. You can use the bottom circle of a t-shirt to create one of this year’s top festival accessories — the scarf-facemask — which is perfect to keep dust away or for social distancing. If you have a t-shirt with a slogan on, with some simple sewing, you can easily transform this into a trendy cushion cover. 

Embellishing your garments 

If you love a garment, but want to give it a new lease of life, then there are plenty of ways that you can embellish it. That way you can create something that looks new for when you’re going out. Simple embroidery is a great way of adding a geometric pattern and a little bit of color. You can also add patches to create a boho style that is fun and current. On thick winter jumpers, try adding homemade colored pom-poms or stitch some feathers into the shoulders for a Game of Thrones look. 

Dye your evening wear

Evening wear and clothes for a special occasion, for instance the classic prom dress, are often only worn once. Of course, you could just forget about the peculiar stigma of wearing a garment out more than once. Rather than throwing out evening wear, you could dye your clothes instead. Synthetic dyes can be easily purchased online and you can use your washing machine to change the color. Alternatively, you can make your own natural dyes from fruits, vegetables and plants and create some interesting effects and patterns. 

Every year, the average American buys 70 new garments — that is one every four or five days. The vast majority will end up in landfill. Upcycling your clothing can help you be part of the solution, by reducing waste and helping to save the planet. 

Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

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