Saturday, May 17, 2008

How to Recycle Denim

The other week when I went to collect the trash, I noticed that my husband had put a pair of old jeans in the trash can. He wears his jeans till they are truly unwearable. The more faded and more holes, the more he loves them. But I suppose there comes a time when even his jeans become unwearable. I knew those particular jeans could not be donated so I let them be thrown away, and now I've felt guilty for weeks. 

So I've decided to figure out now what to do next time there's a pair of jeans to dispose of. Here's what I've come up with.
  1. Donate or hand them down - If they are in wearable condition but you no longer have a need for them, make sure they get into the hands of someone who can wear them.
  2. Fix them up - Did you know you can have your jeans repaired, not just patched up, but actually have threads resewn into them to repair them. This may not be worth it for all of your jeans, but every once in a while you get a pair that you absolutely love. Visit Denim Therapy to find out more about having your jeans repaired.
  3. Turn them into a craft project - I'm not particularly crafty, but some people are. Here's a list of creative things to do with an old pair of jeans - turning them into wine bags doesn't sound like such a bad idea to me. This isn't the only site dedicated to recycling denim the crafty way. If you do some searching, you'll find dozens of sites with creative ideas.
  4. Recycle them - From Blue to Green is a movement that is collecting old denim jeans to turn into insulation to be used in Habitat for Humanity houses. It looks like they hold various denim drives throughout the year.
  5. Hold your own denim drive - You know you're not the only person with old, unusable jeans. Contact your local Habitat for Humanity and find out how to hold a denim drive and donate your jeans plus a whole mini van full or more of everyone else's to be used as insulation.
  6. If you live in the UK, you can have them made into sandals for you - is a UK company that turns your old jeans into your new sandals, but they only ship to the UK mainland.
If you have any other ideas for how to recycle denim, please share them by adding them in the comments.

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jmb said...

When I was a child, my dad was a boy scout leader. His crew did a lot of camping (and fire starting) they created matchless fire starting kits. They would use scraps of denim as the item that would first ignite in the fire starter. Check with your local troop to see if they are in need. I don't know about local troops, but my dad's group used this not only as an opportunity to be pyros, but also to understand that things can have life after it could no longer fulfill it's first intended use. This probably can't use up too much denim, but if you just have one or two old pair, it's an option.

Robin Shreeves said...

Thanks for the idea. My dad was a troop leader, too. He did all this amazing stuff with his troops and when I got old enough and joined the girls scouts, I was so disappointed by how wussy they were. I didn't have a long scouting career.

adrian2514 said...

Hey! Thanks for the great info on how to recycle denim..I've never known what to do with my old jeans! I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and I especially like’s carbon calculator ( I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

Annalie said...

Hi I am a stay at home mom in South Africa and change my freinds old jeans into jackets

The Green Artist said...

All my life I have been a Artist.
5 years ago I stopped purchasing
art materials and now utilize old
denim jeans to create all my art.
I create really funky (one-of-a-kind) earrings, vases, pictures..etc.. I sell my creations and give a 20% discount
to my customers if they surrender old jeans for continued recyclying.