Household > Something Old, Something New

Clothes and Material Recycling/Upcycling

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. 
                                                                                                                                                                                             - Wikipedia

There are many options available for clothes/material recycling, including; charity shops, car boot sales, bring banks, door-door charity collection bags, Ebay and Freecycle.

Below are a few alternative suggestions for both recycling and upcycling.

Re-design, Revive

Need some new shorts? Jeans gone ‘out-of-fashion’? Why not pull out the fabric scissors and turn those scruffy old jeans into some nice shorts? Or even a skirt, if you can master the technique. You could even add some nice details, use bits of other old clothes, lace detail, patches etc. The end product will be a one-of-a-kind, unique to you, and when others say ‘I love your shorts/skirt/jeans, where did you get them?’ you can proudly say they are your own creation.

Tops are another good one. I have revamped tops in the past, most recently a band t-shirt, which my sister was about to throw out as it was ‘dated’ and too big. I claimed this t-shirt, but not liking the largeness and fit of it, I decided to get the scissors out and turn the big, baggy t-shirt into a cool off-the-shoulder crop, which I wore to see the band a couple of weeks later.

If you are really creative, you could even create a whole new item of clothing from bits and pieces of old clothes. Sewing machine may be required! 

Give it a try, it is great fun. Have a look through your wardrobe, separate things that you wear, from things that you haven’t wore for ages/are not likely to wear again, things that you no longer like/that no longer fit, and get creative. If you have a charity bag at home put any clothes you do not want in there, or put in a bin bag, ready to recycle elsewhere.

Other Uses

Another thing that I have done in the past is use old items of clothing, in my case leggings, which have a tendency to not last very long before ripping. I have cut some of these up to make dust rags, which can be used and washed many times, this also saves using a disposable wipe every time you do the dusting! This saves on waste. Just be careful what material you use, as some can leave bits everywhere. Old bed sheets can also be used as dust rags.

Use old t-shirts when painting/decoration, or even using at-home hair colouring kits. I have an old t-shirt which I wear when my sister dyes my hair for me, to save ruining good clothes by staining them.


Hold a swap party

Invite friends and family round, ask them to bring any clothes that they no longer want and hold a swapping party.
Benefits: good fun, lots of laughs, and you can get some great new clothes, whilst getting rid of your unwanted. All whilst being good to the environment.


To locate your nearest textile bring bank click here, or for more information check out our factsheet

If you have any suggestions, we would be happy to hear them. Please email to  

01743 343403