Tag Archives: recycle t-shirts

How to Recycle Your Old T-Shirts

You’ve got a pile of raggedy t-shirts, too pitiful to wear and certainly too shabby to donate to charity. Rather than chucking them in the trash, try out a few of these ways to recycle old t-shirts. Mother Earth will thank you, and you might just wind up with some pretty cool stuff.

Haute couture from holey shirts?

Maybe it’s not fit to wear as a t-shirt, but it might still have a place in your wardrobe. A shirt with a cool design on the front, such as a band name, can easily be turned into a trendy, one-of-a-kind purse. If you’re feeling sassy, you can turn that old tee into a pair of undies. That’s right! It’s such a popular trend that you can even find patterns for t-shirt panties on the Internet.

Keep it clean

Without a doubt, the most popular use for old t-shirts is to turn them into cleaning rags. Unlike paper towels, t-shirt rags are reusable. Stick them in with a load of laundry, and there good for another few rounds of cleaning. They’re great for drying dishes, cleaning up spills or washing your car. You can cut the shirts up into smaller pieces to use as eyeglass wipes, too.

Old t-shirts can also keep things clean by protecting your expensive clothes. Place the shirt over your suit or dress on the hanger, and it will help keep off the dust. You can place them over shoes as well.

Decorate your house

Decorate my house with ratty t-shirts? Eek! What would Martha Stewart say? It might sound crazy, but old shirts can be transformed into some pretty cool décor. You can make quick and easy throw pillows from old shirts, and you don’t have to worry if they get dirty or spilled on. Let the shirts pull double duty, and cut a few up into small pieces to use as stuffing for you pillows.

If the shirt has a particularly interesting or artsy design, you can cut it out and frame it. You’ll have a very unique piece of art and quite a conversation piece. Or decoupage several shirts squares and paste the finished product on a board. T-shirt squares can also be incorporated into funky quilts.

Gifts for our four-legged friends

You can give an old shirt to your dog as a blanket. They’ll love having something with your smell on it to cuddle up with. You can also use the fabric to make little catnip toys. All you need is a bit of stuffing and a package of dry catnip. Sew up a dozen or so and donate them to the local animal shelter. Or, tie the shirt up into a few knots and you’ve got an instant doggie chew toy.

A few last random ways to recycle old t-shirts:

· Cloth diapers
· Packing material
· Sell them to a company that buys cotton to make rags
· Handkerchiefs
· Donate them to elementary schools for children to wear as painting smocks
· Plant ties
· Woven rugs
· Bedding for ferrets

With all the ways you can give old t-shirts a second life, tossing them into your garbage can should be the farthest thing from your mind!


An Example of Eco-Fashion and Idea For Recycling T-Shirts


The Green T Reuse Design Contest was put on by Sew Green who is a non-profit organization in Ithaca who encourages sustainability in fabric, fiber and fashion. There were more than 100 entries in 15 categories by 60 designers from ages under 12 to over 70 and from beginners to professionals. One of the reasons SewGreen believes in this project of reuse and recycling of cotton t-shirts is because of how damaging and intensive it is to grow conventional cotton. Cotton actually uses 25% of the world’s pesticides and herbicides but only takes up 2.4% of the usable farmland. Consumers also tend to frequently dispose of clothes, in fact over 70 pounds of clothing are given awan and 80 percent of those end up in landfills. As of now only about 3 percent of cotton is grown with organic farming methods.

The winners were an eco-fashion team called “the Realitee for Humanitee: Sustainabilitee” from Cornell’s office of Publications and Marketing. They created a series of outfits from over 100 different t-shirts. The items created included a reversible cape, a hat that becomes a drawstring purse, a belt, a dog coat and designer leash. The winning designs will be featured in a gallery in the Communtiy School of Music and Arts from April 4-14 and in a Fashion show on April 27th.

For more information check out this article at Cornell.edu or SewGreen.