We all have a dark and neglected corner of our closets where we leave all those old clothes that don’t quite fit us anymore. Spring has sprung, and now is the time to spring clean and make space in your home and life by getting rid of all those clothes that have seen better days. Not only is this the perfect way to welcome the spring, but it’s also a great home project for celebrating Earth Day on April 22. At Lands’ End, we’re using this year’s Earth Day to take steps towards greater sustainability.
In addition to taking sustainability actions and upgrading our sustainability mission, we are also inviting our Lands’ End family to jump on board the eco-friendly bandwagon and help protect the environment. In the U.S. alone, more than 17 million tons of clothing waste end up in landfills each year, and that number grows significantly every year. One of the best ways to ensure your old clothes don’t end up in a landfill is to repurpose them. Read on for our best ideas on what to do with old clothes besides simply throwing them away.
The simplest way to revive clothes that don’t fit anymore is to have them altered. Taking in, or making smaller, clothes is simple enough—even the novice sewer can do it. Letting clothes out, or making them bigger, is also sometimes possible, depending on the piece. This is an especially great way to revive old favorites like dresses and skirts. Taking in a women’s dress can be easily done at home or by a tailor. Some dresses also have built-in extra fabric for being let out. Ask a skilled seamstress or tailor if the piece can be adjusted. Otherwise, panels can be added to expand the size of the piece. No need to throw away ill-fitted clothes when you can simply alter them to make them fit perfectly again.
One of our favorite ways to repurpose old clothes that don’t fit anymore is to simply donate them. Both national and local sites happily accept donated clothing and provide them to individuals in need. Items such as dress pants and other work-appropriate clothing items can help people look presentable at interviews or have something professional to wear to work. Kids' clothing is another great item to donate to families who would otherwise have trouble affording new clothes for their kids. Unless your old clothes are in really bad shape, consider donating them instead of throwing them away.
If you have some nice old items that don’t fit like they used to but are still in pretty good shape, consider selling them for some extra cash. Many boutique secondhand stores and online marketplaces let you easily sell old or ill-fitting clothing. Send the items to a new home where they will be loved—and make a little money, too. Sounds like a win-win and zero-waste option to us!
Clothes that are pretty well worn and have holes or other signs of wear and tear can be made into household rags and dishcloths. It takes absolutely no skills to simply cut a disintegrating men’s T-shirt into strips and use them around the house for cleaning or using in the kitchen. This will also save money–no need to buy rags and cloths when you can simply make your own from old clothes. Another win-win!
This family-friendly project is fun and a crafty way to reuse that perfectly soft old cotton T-shirt that just doesn’t fit the same anymore. Simply cut off the sleeves, fill the T-shirt with pillow stuffing, and sew up the open ends. Slip into one of your pillow cases for a nice makeshift pillow made from a repurposed T-shirt. You can also make old clothes into nice throw pillows. Choose an old dress or shirt with a nice pattern, cut it into two squares, fill it with pillow stuffing, and sew shut to have your old favorite dress become your new favorite throw pillows.
Transform an unwanted women’s sleeveless top into a coveted stylish carrier bag that you can take to the grocery store instead of collecting more plastic bags. You can find detailed instructions online on how to best make a bag from your old sleeveless top, but the idea is to simply sew the bottom of a tank top shut for a super-cool reusable shopping bag with some extra personality.
It’s sad to see our favorite perfectly fitting jeans begin to fade or develop holes. Instead of wearing ripped jeans or saying farewell, simply use an old pair of jeans to patch up the hole. Cut some patches from an old pair of jeans to have on hand for future holes that are sure to appear eventually. If you’re skilled with sewing you can patch them yourself. Otherwise, take to a tailor who can sew on the patch for you to renew your favorite jeans.
With just a few lifestyle changes, we can all be living a greener more eco-friendly existence. This Earth Day, instead of throwing away your old clothes, try some of these ideas to repurpose and reuse them to reduce waste and consumption.