Reinventing the T-shirt

Ahhhh the t-shirt. That classic staple clothing item many of us wear on a daily basis. From crew necks to v-necks and tight white crisp ones to colorful old favorites with band names, screen printing, and slogans across the chest. What more can be done to bring new life to the clothing piece that serves as fashion’s canvas? While the t-shirt’s general availability may make it an item that’s unappealing or uninteresting to reuse, it’s quite amazing how much of a toll the constant demand for cotton can take on the environment. The amount of insecticides used to produce just one cotton t-shirt is astounding! So, the next time you’re considering parting with an ill-fitting, stained, or worn-out tee, try out a new way to reuse it instead of just throwing it away.

First thing’s first – if you’d rather see your tee help out someone in need of new clothes or you’re just not into crafting, there are many opportunities to donate clothes to local thrift shops and charity drives. Non-profit organizations such as The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries International, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Association have chapters across the U.S. dedicated to recycling unwanted clothes back into the community. Click on the links above to find a donation opportunity that’s close to you!

Old tees that are simply beyond saving can be saved from the trash can or the back of your closet by various creative projects. One cool way that crafters are “going green” is by using old t-shirts as fabric and knitting material! Mike’s T-Shirt Yarn, a company that turns t-shirts into yarn, hand-cuts once-loved t-shirts and stretches them into versatile ribbon. By using already-worn shirts (never purchasing new ones) and avoiding machinery by doing all creating by hand, Mike’s provides a great example of a truly eco-friendly company. Yarn can be turned into scarves, hats, decorations, and whatever else you can make using crochet or knitting! The great thing about a product made from t-shirt yarn is that it’s as easily washable as a t-shirt itself, making the product green from production to use. What an awesome, sustainable business model.

Another way that creative earth-lovers are saving old tees from ending up in landfills is by turning them into bags – a practice that doubly helps the earth by eliminating the need for plastic grocery sacks. A trendy example can be seen in a DIY blog post from Apartment Therapy! By taking a few minutes to cut and sew old t-shirts, you can fashion yourself a whole set of reusable produce bags that are – once again – easily washable! A great tutorial can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gmXMTUXiWA

T-shirts can also be made into beach bags, bath rugs, blankets, and pretty much anything else you can imagine! So, the next time you stain, rip, wear down, or outgrow and old tee, experiment with some crafty reuse projects before tossing it. You’ll do your part to help reduce waste, and you’ll make yourself a cool new accessory – at no cost! Happy upcycling!

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