How to Recycle Denim

4 ways to reuse your jeans

Even old comfy blue jeans can get to a point where they may not be as wearable as they used to be. But before you think about tossing them out in the trash, consider some of the many ways you could put that denim to use, or re-use. Denim is a durable and rugged cotton fabric that often has lots of life left in it long after you finish wearing it. What you choose to do with your denim clothing will depend on how much, if any, wear is left in them.

Step 1: Donate

If you're ready to pass on your denim jeans, and they still have some wear left in them, consider recycling them by taking them to a charitable organization or a consignment store. Thrift shops and homeless shelters are always in need of clothes. Some communities have drop-off bins or recycle centers that accept denim in various locations around your town.

Step 2: Make new clothes

If your jeans won’t work as jeans anymore but still have some wear in them, you might think about recycling them into a pair of summer cut-offs or a denim skirt. Even if the new article of clothing is not something you can use, perhaps the denim from an old pair of your jeans could be recycled into a jump suit or skirt for a child. If you're not handy with a sewing machine, consult a tailor or seamstress for help.

Step 3: Get crafty

When your favorite jeans are beyond repair or can’t be transformed into a new piece of clothing, there is always the craft table. You can recycle them by turning them into handbags, satchels, laundry bags, a rice hot pack (a sewn leg filled with rice or dried corn) or cut pieces for a quilt. The possibilities are almost endless.

Step 4: Recycle for insulation

Recycled denim is being used more and more as insulation because it doesn't cause environmental or bodily harm. Look for a denim recycling drive at a nearby college or university, or check with Habitat for Humanity to find out where you might be able to drop off your old denim. Habitat for Humanity, in their “Cotton. From Blue to Green” program, regularly uses blue jeans as insulation in their projects. It’s a wonderful way to recycle your denim and give back to others.

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